Home Brews a Hit

Dan Semenick and Ryan Buchanan in their home-brewery.

    Zymurgy is a word you certainly don’t hear often — it’s a branch of applied chemistry focused on fermentation. While it can be found near the very end of the dictionary, it is near the top of the mind for Smyrna residents Dan Semenick and Ryan Buchanan. The pair is combining the principles of zymurgy and their love of beer to create unique brews in their Kent County neighborhood. 

The friends joined the increasingly popular home brewing trend in 1998, starting out with just a pot and a bucket. Brewing was relatively simple; they experimented with flavors like cloves and juniper. 

 More than 20 years later, their brewing skills have evolved and they brew everything from IPAs to porters and stouts. Their brewing garage is outfitted with all the trappings of a professional brewery, complete with beer taps, brewing stations and kegs. The beers have creative names with nods to pop culture references like, Threat-Level Midnight, Gradual Enlightenment, Steal My Sunshine and Van Mo. 

For the dynamic brewing duo, combining science and creativity comes naturally. Semenick teaches chemistry engineering at Smyrna High School and previously worked as an analytical chemist. Buchanan, a former English teacher, brings a lot of creativity and spontaneity to the team. 

This merging of the left-brain and right-brain ways of thought led to the creation of the name of their brewing endeavor, Analytic Prose, as well 
as the logo. For the last six years, the pair have been creating their own recipes — they decide how much grain, hops and yeast to add to create the perfect combination. “We like to do imaginative beers; we like to push the envelope,“ says Buchanan.

One of the biggest challenges facing home brewers is fine-tuning the last flavor profile. “You get it really close to how you want it, and it’s just missing something and you have to figure out how to change it,” says Semenick. While the refinement process includes trial and error, the two agree they’ve never made an undrinkable beer.

To continually improve, they ask for critical feedback from their friends. “That’s the nice part of being a duo, we can be critical. We had a couple of friends over and called it a tasting. We had eight beers and we asked them to score it, to try to be critical,” says Buchanan. And the feedback has paid off. The two have participated in several home-brewing competitions and consistently placed first or second. While they aren’t planning to leave their day jobs anytime soon, they are excited to see where the journey leads. They have a five-year plan to expand the operation.  

No matter what the future holds, both encourage beer lovers to give home brewing a try and agree that the most rewarding part is watching people enjoy the beers they create. “We try to make beers that will keep everyone happy. It’s a tremendous amount of fun,” they say.