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Highland Park resident crafts home-brew business

A home-brewed ale ready for fermentation. | Phosubmitted

A home-brewed ale ready for fermentation. | Photo submitted

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Updated: October 1, 2013 3:12AM

If all goes as planned, Highland Park resident Michael Buss will soon open a local business geared to the home-brew hobbyist.

Last week, the city of Highland Park created a new class of liquor license that accommodates that type of enterprise.

The need for a new license category surfaced when Buss proposed opening a business to tap into the surge of interest in home beer making. His North Shore Brewing Supply company would sell ingredients, supplies and equipment for making beer at home.

He also plans to offer classes where participants can create their own beer with tastings. Participants would have the option of leaving the beverage on the premises during the four- to six-week fermentation process and return to pick up a consumable alcoholic beverage.

Buss, 37, hopes to finalize his business’ financing this week, which will allow him to commit to a retail location in Highland Park. He hopes to have a soft opening in August and a grand opening in September.

Buss, who consults for a nutritional cleansing and supplement firm, has been making his own beer as a hobby for about 17 years.

“You have your basic ingredients — hops, malt, water and yeast — and from there you add different specialty grains, herbs, anything to make it your own,” he said. “That is what makes it fun. You get something completely unique that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Buss likes to make peach ale using peaches from his own yard, and a roasted pumpkin brew using pumpkins and peppers from his garden.

“I grow my own hops as well. It’s one thing to say you have made the beer yourself,” he said. “When you actually grow the ingredients, that is really fun.”

The city’s new Class B liquor license authorizes the retail sale of beer as part of brew-it-yourself beer-making classes, parties, events, demonstrations and similar activities, attended exclusively by persons at least 21 years of age. The retail sale may include tastings of beer made on the premises, storage on the premises and delivery of a finished beer to the purchaser for consumption off the premises.

At the request of Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, the liquor code will specify that anyone picking up the finished brew must be at least 21 years of age.

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