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Home-brewed in Northwest Indiana
TONY V. MARTIN | THE TIMES Bob Heinlein shows the wide variety of specialty grains he has available for creating different kinds of beers at his Crown Point store. On Friday, Heinlein opened the brick-and-mortar store for his online business, Kennywood Brewing supplies. The business serves the hobbyist beer brewer and winemaker.

Bob Heinlein started brewing his own beer as a hobby 11 years ago. That hobby has turned into a Northwest Indiana business that helps others create the perfect brew or wine.

"There are no alcohol sales here. We don't sell beer or wine. We sell the equipment and mixes that help people make their own," Heinlein says.

Kennywood Brewing Supply started six years ago in an addition to Heinlein's home. "At first we sold supplies online. That evolved into people asking if they could stop by to pick up their supplies to eliminate shipping costs," he says. "Then we started setting up appointments."

On Friday night, a new Kennywood Brewing Supply opened its doors on the Courthouse Square in Crown Point in a small shop at 3 North Court St. Customers can visit and buy beer- and wine-making supplies from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The shop is closed on Sundays through Tuesdays.

There's something special about brewing your own beer or making your own wine, Heinlein says. By law, each household can make 200 gallons of beer and 200 gallons of wine for their own consumption.

"It used to be that a household could make 200 gallons of wine, but not beer. President Jimmy Carter (had that law) repealed to allow people to brew their own beer," Heinlein says.

For years, Heinlein created his own beer-making kits. Now the kits are manufactured and sold in boxes that include malt extract, hops, yeast and even bottle caps.

Kits are available to brew 28 styles of beer, Heinlein says, and Kennywood Brewing Supply offers 25 varieties of hops and 50 types of straining yeast. Customers can also buy bags of grain. Each kit makes five gallons of beer, which represents two cases and one six-pack of finished brew.

Seasonal beers, including stouts for winter and light ales for spring, can also be brewed at home with supplies from Kennywood.

Equipment home brewers need is also available there, including bottles, kegs, faucets, carbon-dioxide canisters for making draft beer, and copper coils with plastic tubing that cools down the boiled mixture of malt, sugar and hops known as "wort" so yeast can be added.

Most of the world's beer is based on the water available locally, but home brewers can also buy additives at Kennywood that will replicate the water from a specific region of the world.

Brewing beer dates back millennia, Heinlein says. "The world's oldest recipe was for beer," he says. "We have books of recipes and recipes we've created." Two of Heinlein's own beer creations have won silver medals in national competitions sponsored by the American Homebrewers Association.

The basic set up to brew beer at home costs between $75 and $125, Heinlein says.

In addition, Kennywood offers wine-making kits, which feature various fruit juices and which will each create six gallons or 30 bottles of wine.

"Grapes are available once a year, but the kits are around all year," Heinlein says.

Among the wine-making supplies customers will find at Kennywood are fermenting pails, glass carboys, wine bottles and corks. Equipment and supplies to make wine cost about $125, he says.

A variety of chemicals are also sold here to clean and sanitize equipment.

"Everything that comes in contact with beer or wine has to be sanitized," Heinlein says. "These are food-grade sanitizing products."

Those who want to create beer or wine "Made in Northwest Indiana" will find an advocate in Bob Heinlein and Kennywood Brewing Supply.

"I got my first beer-making kit from my father as a birthday present for my 40th birthday. That was 11 years ago," he says. "Now it's become a life passion. I love the hobby and the people in it."


Company name: Kennywood Brewing Supply

Type of business: Beer- and wine-making supplies

When opened: 2003

Location: 3 N. Court St., Crown Point

Phone: (219) 765-BREW (2739)

Owner: Bob Heinlein

Number of employees: 2