- Associated Press - Monday, November 24, 2014

BELOIT, Wis. (AP) - Creativity can take many forms and art can come from anywhere.

Cory Ellis proves this as sunlight comes pouring into his garage and he stirs a large pot of a creative concoction that smells both nutty and a bit like wheat.

“A lot of home brewing is like kind of MacGyvering because you’re piecing stuff together,” Ellis says as he lowers the heat on the burner while continuing to stir the mash — grains, sweet potatoes and pecans, after a recipe his mom used to make.

Ellis is in the first stages of brewing an ale based on sweet potato casserole - a hobby he shares with several people as part of the Stateline Brewing Society members.

Society members sit around a tall table and talk brewing, the Beloit Daily News (https://bit.ly/1A8J7Xu ) reported. They sample each other’s brews and are open to anything that’s fermented. Every second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at Suds O’Hanahan’s, anyone is welcome to join the group and bring either their home brew or another unique beer to share. Bringing a drink to share is not required - just encouraged.

And the members are more than happy to share their knowledge by talking history, brew styles, science and much more.

Members have systems that vary from a piecemeal brewing system to something that looks like it could have come out of NASA. They brew beer or wine and develop their own twist on recipes — some even grow some of their ingredients in their backyard.

When it comes to brewing up unique creations, Ellis holds his own. Nicknamed the “Male Martha Stewart,” Ellis not only brews creative beers like Peanut Butter and Jelly, he also makes baked goods with his leftover grains. He said he enjoys attending the society’s meetings because they are more laid back.

“This is not a club where we’re going to kick you out if you don’t know the terms,” Ellis said. “It’s just a fun hobby . and a good way to meet people.”

Chris Karstaedt, a long-time member of the club, said he enjoys brewing because it can be instinctual.

“I like to go from the gut,” Karstaedt said. “I put something together in my mind, and then throw it together.”

But for others, it can be about the challenge of brewing a difficult beer.

Curt Meyers, who manufactures automation equipment and likes gadgets, said he’s been focusing on American lagers because they’re more challenging.

“There’s not a lot of things to hide the flavors so any mistakes in the brewing process show up right away,” he said.

Meyers said he became part of the club seven years ago when he took up brewing as a hobby because he likes talking beers and bouncing ideas off the other members.

Dave Knutson, who has been making his own wine for over 34 years with his wife Jan, grows grapes for rosés and white wines. But the pair will use other fruits given to them by friends, using everything from parsnip to rhubarb, often naming the wine after them.

Knutson said he enjoys being part of the brew society because members bring beverages suited for connoisseurs rather than a typical beer made for mass production. He said the club and the craft are both accessible - people just need a passion to create something unique.

“There are a lot of people liking beers and are liking the concept of a craft beer and they say, ‘Well I could never do that’ well yeah, you can,” Knutson said. “If you can follow a recipe and listen to some of the wisdom of some of the people here that have experience at it…these guys would be here to help them out - lend them some equipment, lend expertise, help with the whole process. Once you have that first batch down, you’re hooked.”

Back in the garage, Ellis’ mash is coming along well. The process will not be finished for another month. He said he enjoys brewing odd beers that others haven’t thought of before.

“I do a lot of it just to get reactions out of people,” he says. “Some people like it, some people don’t. It’s kind of like art in some sense: Not everyone likes cubism, but some people love it. It’s all personal taste more than anything.”

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Information from: Beloit Daily News, https://www.beloitdailynews.com


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