CUSTOMERS from Wakefield at Brew Zone are shown bottling their own beer. From left: Ken Duval, Bob Bradley and Josh Polster. (Courtesy Photo)

Published in the November 27, 2017 edition.

By GAIL LOWE

SAUGUS — Everyone has someone on their holiday list who seems to “have everything.” They’re the ones who are hard to buy gifts for, the ones who leave gift-givers scratching their heads.

Now, the solution might be as close as that glass of beer you’re holding in your hand.

It could have even been made at Brew Zone, a store on Rte. 1 south in Saugus (135 Broadway) where beer lovers go to brew their own.

Said one excited North Shore patron, “We used to drive to Nashua to brew our own. Now we can come here.”

Brew Zone is owned and operated by Kelli Parece and Jim Parece, whose father Warren is well known in Melrose for his starter and alternator business on Tremont Street.

The Pareces opened Brew Zone in early November, and already dozens of people have come through the door to brew their own. Samples from their menu of over 40 recipes include Southie Irish Red (a light body amber ale with dry finish), Smashing Pumpkin ale (a malty, sweet ale lightly spiced with pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger) and Saugus Stout (a bittersweet, full-bodied brew featuring the roasted barley character of all stouts and the one most similar to Guinness).

Altogether, they offer ale, brown, red ale, wheat, lager, pale ale, pilsner, porter, stout and seasonal brews.

There are six 13-gallon copper kettles at Brew Zone, and each batch of beer yields about 72 22-ounce bottles (or six cases) which, Jim Parece notes, most people use. A batch costs between $185 and $234, depending on recipe. Bottle caps are included but bottles are not. For their first time, brewers will need to purchase reusable bottles from Parece or they can bring their own.

“We will rinse and sanitize them when you come in to bottle,” he says, emphasizing that the machine is not a bottle washer. The bottles that go in must be clean.

He advises brewers to clean their bottles the best they can by rinsing each bottle after use in warm water a few times and place them back in the case upside down.

“When you return to brew another batch, we’ll rinse and sanitize them for the next batch,” Parece says. “But people are responsible for cleaning their own bottles.” For the sake of convenience, the Pareces do carry and sell bottles in the store ($10.75 per case or 12 22-ounce bottles).

“Bring in a friend or two and split a batch,” he suggests.

Parece also says people are welcome to hold special occasions such as a birthday party, men’s or women’s night out or corporate team building event at his store.

“If you add a personalized label to your beer, after your guests enjoy the beer, they can keep the bottle as a memento of the event,” he says.

Between two and two-and-a-half hours are needed to brew a recipe. Then, the finished brew is left onsite to ferment for one week. Two weeks after fermentation takes place, the brew is bottled.

The added bonus is that there is no clean-up involved, unlike what happens when people brew their own beer in the basements of their homes.

“Whether you’re an experienced home brewer or beginner, you’ll have a great time during your session with us,” says Kelli Parece. “Come by with friends or by yourself. Either way, you’ll enjoy a brew made by you. And remember — we do all the clean-up.”

Cash, credit cards and checks are accepted. Gift cards are also available. Appointments are being booked, so call now to reserve a kettle. Thursdays 5-9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Call 781-231-BREW (2739) or visit www.brewzone.net.

The Pareces also offer for sale T-shirts, beer glasses and key chains emblazoned with the Brew Zone logo. Eventually, they plan to offer wine but that remains a future goal for now.