Jan 30, 2012

The Research: Part 3

The final post I want to make in the research category is one about the traditional, brick & mortar, local homebrew store.  If you are lucky enough to have a store nearby, this is a great place to visit.  (You can find a nearby store by visiting the Homebrewers Association directory.)

In this modern world, full of instant information, huge selection, and Amazon.com pricing, why visit an actual store?  Several reasons.

First, the people.  These people are passionate about brewing and passionate about helping you brew.  They are a great resource for practical questions on ingredients and, in this specific case, equipment.  They probably have used most of what is in their store and can speak to it first hand.  You get much better service than online retailers (which usually provide no customer service unless something doesn't work the way it should) because there are actual people with whom to talk and ask questions.

Hops/Yeast Fridge
When Eric and I first made our foray into homebrewing, we bought our equipment at our local homebrew store.  Looking back, I am extremely thankful we did.  We ended up leaving with some things that I would not have purchased if we were doing it online, but those extras really helped in the brewing process.  On the other hand, they told us to not buy some things because we wouldn't need them - either for a long time or ever.

Compare boil kettles.
Second, you get to be hands on.  Being hands-on with the equipment or ingredients is priceless.  You can smell the malts; you can hold the kettles; you can even sample some brew made with a kit they are selling (if your local homebrew store is top-notch like mine is).  It is super easy to compare pots of different sizes and prices.  (Size does matter, by the way.)  We looked hard at different size kettles for our batches and being able to look at a 32 quart VS 20 quart really makes you want to buy the 32 quart.

Look for upgrades.
Third, the prices aren't that bad.  While they may be a little higher on some items, the overall cost isn't much.  Many prices in the store are the same or beat online retailers.  It all depends on what you are looking for.  When you visit a homebrew store, you get your product immediately and there is no need to wait or pay for shipping.  And this is just the equipment.  I haven't even mentioned the ingredients yet.  When you visit your homebrew store, you are most likely getting fresher ingredients.  You can see when the yeast was produced and see the grain you are going to buy.  There is no beating that.

So, visit your local homebrew store.  They will help, I'm sure of it.

And if you are curious, my local homebrew store is Weak Knee Homebrew Supply in Pottstown, PA.  I am borrowing all of their images, so, hope they don't mind.  They do an excellent job and it is fun visiting.  If you are ever in the area, check them out, have a few samples, talk with Dave or Bill, and buy something.