Homebrewing, the art of making beer and wine at home, has been legal since 1978 in the U.S., but over the past few years, it's become one of the hottest hobbies and has gone from catalogs and online, to storefronts popping up across the country, including Sioux Falls.

I've got three friends who have been homebrewers for a number of years. It started out as a hobby for all of them. A way to make a beer or a wine taste the way THEY want it to. I've been fortunate to sample several of their offerings and can honestly say that it's as good as anything you'll find in the liquor store or pub.

I spent a few hours at one of the new stores that are catering only to the homebrewer here in Sioux Falls this weekend called Barrels & Bottles Etc. at 41st & Western. It was an education to me to not only talk to the owners about their homebrewing experiences, but to listen in on conversations they had with customers that came in.

Most were experienced brewers, who came in with specific needs and questions, eager to talk about their latest flavors. A few novices also dropped by, because they've got friends who have done it and it sounded like fun.

With the available kits for both beer and wine, the cost is minimal, considering that a typical beer kit will yield about two cases of home brew, while the wine kits typically yield 27-30 bottles of wine (making the cost about $2 a bottle for wine!)

The rise of craft beers has contributed heavily to the rise in homebrewing. As we experience new flavors and new combinations, we’re drawn to recreate them on our own. Because brewing is a complicated alchemy, it’s only natural for beer drinkers to become curious about the process.

Over the coming months, classes will be offered for the beginners and for the more advanced brewers. There will be wine tastings so you can sample some of the stock flavors available in the kits.

Just googling 'Homebrewing' brings up a thousand options for magazines, articles, websites, discussion boards and more. So embrace your inner 'mad scientist', because the cost, space and knowledge needed to get started has come down considerably.

People are getting into homebrewing to serve at parties, to make to give as gifts, to enter competitions, or just to enjoy by themselves. The best line I heard about the ease of learning how to brew is 'if you can make a cake from a box recipe, you can learn how to make beer and wine.'

Maybe there's hope for me after all.