Straight Fermentations

John Straight
John Straight

Article Contributed by
Mallery Rockwell

Straight Fermentations staged its grand opening on August 18 at 104 Chautauqua Avenue in Lakewood. John Straight and Steve Spears are the proud co-owners of the only homebrew and winemaking store in southern Chautauqua County. Spears operates the original Dunkirk Homebrew, identical to Straight Fermentations.

A Passion for Beer
“I got bored with retirement – I like to drink good beer and it sounded like a fun hobby,” Straight said. “I love it.” Straight is a retired schoolteacher from Fredonia Central School District and was fortunate enough to be able to pursue his interest in brewing beer. He has been brewing for 10 years after discovering he could brew excellent beer in as little as five weeks.

“We knew we wanted something in the Jamestown part of the county,” Straight said. After Straight and Spears surveyed the area, they chose the perfect space for their brewing products. “We fell in love with the community right off the bat.”

Quality Goods
“We have 10 base grains and 30 specialty grains to brew the beer with,” Straight said. The grains are imported from Germany, Belgium, and England, as well as the U.S. Straight Fermentations offers a wide variety of ingredients and equipment to make perfect batches of beer and wine. They sell beer and wine kits along with helpful guides for crafting the drinks. With the kits, the wine is ready to be sipped on in roughly eight weeks rather than years.

“Straight Fermentations and Dunkirk Homebrew, the only homebrew stores in Chautauqua County, offer a variety of specialty spices, herbs, fruits and fruit flavorings – lemon grass, dried elderflowers and grapefruit peel, for example. Corks, caps, straining bags, bottle washers, funnels and other drinking items are available for purchase. Selections of other commodities line the shelves, including natural flavorings, yeasts and juices.

Many cooking fans will come to Straight Fermentations to buy spices, dried milk, berries and similar ingredients used to make delicious homemade recipes.

Learn to Brew
While he doesn’t teach scheduled classes or lessons, Straight encourages customers to stop in to learn about and experience the brewing process firsthand. “Make an appointment, come on in, we’ll get your ingredients and I’ll walk you through the brewing process,” Straight said. All of the grains are located in a separate back room, along with the brewing equipment. Straight has a list of recipes with various grains and ingredients that can be used for different beers.

“I like to talk to people,” Straight said. “It’s my hobby and I enjoy sharing what I know about it with others and learning from them.” One customer knew he wanted a pale ale beer but wasn’t sure which other ingredients he wanted to add. Straight provided him with a basic pale ale recipe and helped the customer create his own recipe by adding grains and altering the hops and yeasts.

John Straight

Straight Fermentations is open Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. Visit or call (716) 763-8530 for more info.

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