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MADISON, Wis. – When a law was passed in the 1980s that allowed persons to brew their own beer, the interest sparked a cottage industry and novices soon began honing their craft. Count Tom Burton, senior managing editor at CUNA Mutual Group, among those who got bit by the craft-brewing bug. Burton leads the editorial team that produces CUNA Mutual’s Dimensions magazine, the Lending Resource newsletter and its annual report. More than 10 years ago, Burton started his tutelage under another home brewer and soon began experimenting with small batches in bottles using prepackaged ingredients. Burton has made a small investment in brewing equipment including a draft beer system complete with a beer refrigerator that houses carbonated kegs. The process involves a confident grasp of chemistry and an instinctual reliance on one’s taste buds, he said. “You can control everything that goes into the beer,” Burton said. “You can make a stronger ale. The more grain you use, the stronger the taste because of the sugar.” Burton buys special grain, grinds it up, mashes it and then heats it until its starch component turns to sugar. Yeast is then added. Once the concoction has been mixed, it is placed in a huge carboy, a bottle encased in a protective covering, and stays there to ferment from a couple of days to a few weeks. He has become such the craft-brewing expert that the three, five-gallon batches he makes each year are sought after by friends and colleagues. Burton quickly adds the home-brewed beer is given as gifts and he hasn’t pondered any considerations of giving up his day job to open a brewery. He has created his signature beer aptly called Burton Brau. Brau is the German word for beer. Burton has also visited some of the “beer nirvanas” including attending October Fest in Munich, Germany and visiting Belgium, where he knocked on the door of a monastery known for its homemade beer (“They wouldn’t let me in,” he laughs). According to the Association of Brewers, 1,465 craft brewers produced 6.6 million barrels of beer in 2003. [email protected]

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