It was clear to Joe Dato that a hobby was in order.
The 43-year-old father of three is a database administrator for a medical software company and coaches athletics for his children.
“I told my wife, I need a hobby. I think I’m going to make beer,” said the Munster resident.
His wife bought him a one gallon kit in January and since then, the now converted brew master has not looked back.
Dato quickly dove in to the one gallon beer making kit which makes about seven or eight beers and costs roughly $40. Now he buys five gallon kits, which yield about two cases and are more cost effective.
“I recently brewed up a citrus wheat beer, which is a crowd favorite,” Dato said.
Dato is not alone in his love of the frothy drink. Craft beers have been gaining in popularity since Thomas Jefferson first told someone to pour him a pint in 1812.
Northwest Indiana is home to craft-focused, specialty beer bars such as Beer Geeks and brewers such as the renown Three Floyds Brewery.
“Even though craft beers cost more, people have realized they taste better,” said Jason Owens, owner of Beer Geeks in Highland.
So much so that Owens now has more than 20 continuously rotating specialty beer taps in his repertoire of drinks.
Those who have a yen for brewing their own beer can get all their supplies at stores such as Brew and Blooms in Hammond and Kennywood Brewing Supply in Crown Point.
According to Jeremy Shuman, owner of Brew and Blooms, it’s not hard to make beer.
“You make a gumbo, cool it as quickly as possible, add yeast and let it sit,” Shuman said.
The initial investment is about $40. The kits are available to make as many as 30 different beers and more. Beer makers also will have to buy hops, yeast and grains. There are beer making instruments such as strainers to buy.
Customers can cut costs. For Dato’s five gallon beers, he uses his neighbor’s turkey deep fryer to brew his beer.
He then repays him with the tasty drinks he brews.
Dato said he would never sell his home-based brews.
“There are laws against that, and it takes the fun out of a hobby,” Dato said.