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Mark Ranes

Profile of a homebrewer

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Mark Ranes

Homebrewer Mark Ranes recirculates wort at a recent Teach a Friend to Brew Day event at his Turlock home. Alexis Naccimento is pictured over Ranes’ left shoulder learning how to brew beer.

Photo contributed/

POSTED March 9, 2012 11:24 p.m.

TURLOCK — Turlock resident Mark Ranes is one of the thousands of people who brew their own beer as a hobby. The technology manager said what started out as an extension of his love of cooking has turned into a full-fledged passion.

Ranes recently answered questions about his journey into homebrewing:

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN HOMEBREWING? “This is my ninth year of homebrewing. I have 135 batches under my belt.”

“I had a friend who did it. I was the barbecue guy and he would bring the beer. He was my mentor.

“I was always into cooking and this is an extension of cooking — it’s science and art.”

“Yes; the Central Valley Brewers Guild. We have members from Stockton to Merced, mostly from Modesto and Turlock. There are 20 to 23 active members. In a club you find experienced guys and latch onto them, that’s what really got me going.

“We have monthly gatherings and a style of the month. We focus on that style; bring homebrew examples of it and commercial examples. We then discuss what goes into making it. We also have a homebrewer topic of the month. Last month it was record keeping. We also talk about what we brewed recently.”

WHERE DOES YOUR HOMEBREW CLUB MEET? “Sometimes we meet at Barley & Wine (a beer brewing supply shop in Modesto) and sometimes at Dust Bowl brewery or the tap room.”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TYPE OF BEER TO BREW? “IPAs (India Pale Ales); it’s a nice, hoppy beer. Lately, I’ve been brewing brown ales, which go nicely with pork and chicken. Most of us homebrewers are also foodies.”

DO YOU COMPETE AT HOMEBREWING EVENTS? “I just started competing. Last year, my barley wine and vanilla porter were entered into the National Homebrew Competition in San Diego. I won a third place bronze medal for my barley wine. The conference itself was pretty cool. There were 2,000 people and at a banquet one night they served a different beer with every course. I also got to meet up with homebrewers I talk to over Twitter. When it was announced I won third place, a friend from Minnesota was cheering me on.”

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BLOG LAZYBREWER.COM: “I’m a techie and I was looking for a reason to start a blog. Homebrewing was a perfect fit.”

WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO HOMEBREW? “Lots of people get into it to save money. Once you’ve got the equipment, it’s pretty inexpensive to make your own beer. But, to me, it’s that I can make exactly the beer I want to drink. I love the look on people’s faces when I hand them a beer and they say, ‘Man, you made this?’

“Homebrewing is a very social activity. It’s fun to do with a group. I built a bar in my backyard and I have eight of my beers on tap. It’s fun for entertaining. A lot of people will come over and say they aren’t into craft beers. I say, ‘It’s not that you’re not a beer drinker, you just haven’t found one you like yet.

“I can always find something everyone will drink.”

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE THINKING ABOUT STARTING HOMEBREWING? “Find a homebrew club and find reliable sources on the Internet and read, read, read.”

209 staff reporter

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