A couple of weeks back I was meeting my friend Phil at a local homebrew store here in Grand Rapids. A friend of his is getting married in June and he thought it would be fun to bring a couple of batches of beer to the wedding. Phil is a new brewer who has made a couple of kits that he’s bought online. He has shown interest in all grain brewing so I thought that it would be fun to help him out with this project.
I was late so I set off wandering through the store looking for Phil. I overheard a conversation between the first few people I ran across that piqued my interest. One of the employees was walking a couple of new brewers through the equipment that they would need. I could tell that the new customers were excited about making their first beer. The store employee was equally excited about sharing what he knew about brewing.
After a few minutes I found Phil wandering through the store. It was his first time there and he was impressed. As we put together recipes I explained what the different ingredients were for and showed him the hop and yeast coolers. Like the participants in the conversation above, I had a great time talking about what we were trying to do and I think that Phil had fun learning.
It’s possible to buy any homebrew equipment or ingredient online and have it delivered to your door. That is incredibly convenient, especially if you live in an area where there is no homebrew store. It’s great to have a choice but there are some huge benefits to frequenting your local homebrew store.
- A staff of homebrewers
Every homebrew store I have visited is staffed by at least a few homebrewers. These folks are passionate about the hobby and more than willing to share their knowledge with both new and veteran brewers. They can help you tweak your recipe or offer advice about what equipment to buy. This is especially useful if you don’t have a group of friends to brew with or you are all beginners.
A homebrew store is a great place to get plugged into a community. Most of the customers are brewers and like the staff are willing to talk your ear off about their hobby. Also stores tend to promote events and competitions that bring brewers together.
- Able to browse and touch
I like to touch things before I buy them. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what I need and it’s nice to look the choices over. It’s also really cool to taste grains you haven’t used before to see how they may fit in to a recipe. This is something you can’t do on the Internet.
- Supporting local business
I would rather give my money to somebody I know than to strangers a thousand miles away. It keeps money close to home giving locals the ability to support the business that you work for. It also makes the three reasons above possible. If your local store doesn’t make money it can’t offer you those benefits.
These are just a few of the things that make your local homebrew store a fun place to visit. If you haven’t been to yours in a while go check it out this weekend.