Scott Stoner, owner of Just Brew It, pours grain into a container to be used during brewing. Stoner has been brewing beer for more than four years. (Staff photo by Evan Shields
Scott Stoner, owner of Just Brew It, pours grain into a container to be used during brewing. Stoner has been brewing beer for more than four years. (Staff photo by Evan Shields
Scott Stoner and Christopher Gibson didn't have any brewing experience when they decided to start brewing their own beer more than four years ago. Their usual choices of beer had become routine and they wanted something different.

"We wanted to brew something that had volume; a better beer," Gibson said.

When they started, the two would spend hours reading books on the subject and reading articles to learn about the new challenge they would be taking on.

"No degrees in brewing," Gibson said.

They would experiment a lot during the creation of the beers. Mostly, experiments included the use of different types of grains and hops. Gibson said they never tried using anything like adding raisins or oranges when making their beer. They just stuck to the essential ingredients: barley, hops, water and yeast.

"We critiqued them," Gibson said. "We'd brew them longer, we'd boil them a little bit longer, get the alcohol content where we wanted it. We would add more hops versus less hops. We played with it a lot."

Gibson said they would try beers from other breweries and sometimes try to duplicate the taste, but said that they tend to stick with their own recipes.

"These are original recipes. No one knows what's in them," Gibson said.

Stoner and Gibson used to brew their own beer in Stoner's garage, but their operation has expanded into a microbrewery called Just Brew It at 719 W. Main St. They have been serving beer for two months and have grown the number of beers they serve.

"We have 12 beers that we brew, five that are on tap," Gibson said.

They have a goal of creating 10 different beers to have available on tap, as well as having rotating seasonal beers for different parts of the year.

"We've been well-received," Stoner said. "I think it's positive."

The first step - and one of the most important - is getting things cleaned and ready for use.

"Clean, sanitize, clean, sanitize, non-stop," Gibson said. "That's the thing about a brewery: You're always cleaning something."

Sometimes the two can spend up to three hours cleaning the utensils they used while brewing.

The first step in the brewing process is the hot liquor stage, which involves heating ingredients to the desired temperatures - which are part of their secret recipe. Around the same time, the grains are crushed. After the hot liquor stage is done, the contents are transferred to the mash tun, where grains are added. Then the hops are added to the mixture. The next step is the boil kill, where anything that might be harmful is killed by boiling.

This whole process takes about three hours to complete. From there, the beer goes into a container to be fermented. Fermenting takes between 12 and 14 days, depending on the style of beer. The microbrewery has five fermenting pots that can be used at the same time.

When they brew, they typically go for about 10 hours before they're done. The two like to brew beer at night because the process pumps a lot of heat into the building. By brewing the beer at night, they can avoid extreme heat and they can avoid bothering anyone else in the rest of the building.

Stoner and Gibson both take tremendous pride in the fact that they are able to brew their own beer rather than going out to a store and buying it.

"It's fresh. It's not packaged and shipped across God's creation before it gets to you," Gibson said.

Ultimately, the two continue to brew beer because of the fun they have while doing it.

"If this wasn't fun, if we didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't be doing this just to be in business," Stoner said. "But if you get into it, and you're not having fun with it, put that stuff up and go buy your beer."