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Sustainable Table: Home Brewing

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Beer is popular across the world, but starting local often results in a better and more affordable product.

This weekend, the Harvest Festival at the Jackson County Expo will have the largest beer tent ever in Southern Oregon. More than 50 craft brewers from the Northwest will show off, but it’s also a chance for a lot smaller home brewers to ferment their way to recognition.

One of those home brewers in Steve Terilli. The kitchen is exactly where NewsWatch12 caught up with Terilli, who has been brewing for 3 years now. His daughter Kia is proud to show off her father’s brew awards; one them is from the Southern Oregon Brew Fest, where Terilli hopes to impress the judges again.

“When the home brewers brew, they brew to a certain specific style and they will enter the beers; we’ll break them into similar groups and then evaluate if there are any off flavors, if they are brewed to style, and how well they did,” explained Steve Borup, the Judge Captain at Southern Oregon Brew Fest.

Terilli’s drink is one of 120 brews submitted for tasting, all from Southern Oregon, and most getting their supplies at the same locally owned store. The main ingredients, hops and barley, aren’t necessarily local, they’re more regional.

“It’s all grown in Northern California, Oregon, Washington,” Steve Terilli explained. “Malted in Washington, the hops from either the Willamette Valley, just up north and the Yakaima Valley over in Washington.”

With such small batches made, usually topping out at 10 gallons, home brewers have the opportunity to experiment a little. Those ingredients are often picked, like local berries, or picked up just down the road at the farmer’s market. This year, a brew or two of Terilli had something very local.

“We just had a modest little, one hop vine this year, and got a little bit of hops that we are going to be able to incorporate which is really cool,” said Terilli.

Whether your cup runneth over with awards or not, you’re in control of what you’re consuming, which is all of what eating and drinking local is all about. Of course, you’ll have to try it out yourself, or make friends with someone like Terilli to see what its really all about. Steve Terilli and all the other brewers will have to wait to find out their fermented fate. The Southern Oregon Brew Fest at the harvest fair is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.