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What's brewing? Knebel's craft goes beyond baseball

Recently acquired reliever has hobby that's a perfect fit in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- Corey Knebel was already a brewer. Now he is a Brewer.

That connection was made first by Knebel's friend Judd Messer, who was among the handful of people aware that Knebel had been homebrewing craft beer before Jan. 19, when the right-handed reliever was acquired by the Milwaukee Brewers in a swap that sent Yovani Gallardo to Texas. Via Twitter, Messer shared Knebel's suddenly-apt hobby with the rest of the world. In Milwaukee, which was once America's beer capital, local news outlets picked up the story. The newest Milwaukee Brewer had an instant fan base.

"That's how it all kind of got out," Knebel said. "I kept asking him to delete the Tweet, but he said, 'Nah, I think this is going to be fun.'"

Knebel, 23, became a craft beer enthusiast after the Tigers made him a supplemental first-round Draft pick in 2013. While traveling throughout the Midwest with the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps, Knebel would seek out local breweries. His goal is to try a beer in every state.

The idea of brewing beer at home came from left-hander Ross Detwiler, who was traded from the Nationals to the Rangers in December. Detwiler shared the story of his father, who has been homebrewing for decades.

Knebel was intrigued, so he visited a supply store in Austin and jumped right in. His first batch was a German Hefeweizen, made with two-step fermentation and conditioned (carbonated, for the non-hopheads) in bottles. Last week, Knebel and his fiancée, Danielle, cooked up batch No. 2, a Belgian wheat.

Next, Knebel wants to tackle an IPA.

"[Detwiler] kind of told me where to go, so I went over there, tried it out, and it was so much fun," Knebel said. "I'm not going to stop. It's such a great hobby to have. I'd love to have kids and be able to tell them someday that dad has been brewing beer for 25 years."

Knebel also hopes to share some good baseball stories. A former University of Texas teammate of Brewers pitching prospect Taylor Jungmann, Knebel made a brief Major League debut last season with the Tigers before they traded him to the Rangers for Joakim Soria. Knebel was shut down in August with right elbow discomfort, but he was able to rehab a slight ligament tear without surgery.

Knebel has just begun throwing full bullpen sessions. So far, he said his elbow feels strong.

"It's been a big roller-coaster ride. No one wants me," Knebel joked. "But it's been fun. I feel very blessed to be with the Brewers."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy.
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