What’s happening?

Just wanted to post what is going on in my life. I apologize I haven’t posted in awhile but life has been busy. I am about to make a big move back to Washington state very soon and the move has a lot of uncertainty so there has been a little stress. It’s time for me to leave North Dakota and in the end it will be for the best so I need to focus on that for a little while. Hopefully I’ll be brewing again soon and working on finishing a few projects that I am looking forward to sharing here.

I continue to watch what is happening in home brewing, new developments and some of the new products available. Small batch brewing and brewing in small spaces is still growing in popularity and I think it will continue to be a trend the industry can’t ignore. Why not pursue a hobby regardless of your time or space requirements? Thankfully everyone can with home brewing.

On a more serious note I want to talk about your local home brewing supply shops. Many cities are fortunate enough to have one or more. These small businesses are a source for not only brewing supplies but information, ideas, help and provide a feeling of community amongst home brewers. Sadly I am hearing about more and more of these small shops closing. There a lot of reasons a small business closes but nationally, small businesses have been hurt by online shopping and home brew shops are no different. Large online retailers have tremendous buying power that provides them the opportunity to offer lower prices and there is the convenience factor of never having to leave your home. Your local shop may only order a few sacks of 2-row where a large online retailer will order pallets of bags of 2-row. So with just that in mind your LHBS may have higher prices but like all small businesses they have overhead like business insurance, business loan payments, utilities, employee salaries, medical insurance premiums, a house payment, car payment, little junior’s braces and college fund etc. Not to mention often a building lease payment (most home brewing wholesale companies will not allow you to buy from them unless you have an actual store front so no doing business from your garage).

Things your LHBS offer that the big online retailers don’t…immediate access to brewing supplies, no shipping costs or waiting. Need a pack of yeast on brew day? They will have you covered. Need a single drilled stopper? They have it for you and you don’t have to pay $10 shipping for that $2 stopper. Have a question or just want to talk about brewing…your LHBS. Many LHBS offer deals for local brewing club members and some even offer their space to host those clubs for meetings. They often have brewing classes. Many will special order something you want but they don’t carry. Some will store that 50 pound sack of 2-row you bought from them, so you don’t have to find a place in your tiny apartment, and then mill it for you at your convenience. They also are the cornerstone for the community feeling us home brewers have. For me I don’t get that feeling of community when I click on the “checkout” button on a website. Local small businesses also put money back into the community and often provides jobs so it is a win win.

When I started home brewing in Seattle in 1989 I basically was a regular fixture at the local home brew shop in the Greenwood neighborhood and learned so much. I immediately felt accepted into the hobby. I later helped at another home brew shop and it was rewarding to help new and experienced home brewers. I was fortunate to have lived in a city with a couple great LHBS but then moved to a city with none. I had no choice but to order supplies online and wait. When I did order online I chose an online retailer that is also a small business and not owned by a major corporation. Many LHBS have an online side to their business and that is a bonus to us that live in a town without a local shop. Yes online shopping often saves you money, and brings you many choices that local shopping might not. Those two things have helped the hobby grow but remember many of us began home brewing with a visit to a local home brew shop. The interweb is great for shopping but don’t forget the local home brew supply store in your town, they are home brewers like you and I that took the leap to open a small business to help follow home brewers. Just like we home brewers support craft breweries because most were started by home brewers with a dream, try to support small home brew shops. If you haven’t visited your LHBS, stop in and say hi.

With that being said I do occasionally promote or give a plug to an online retailer or specialty business but I only do so because they are small businesses, we can all access, that promotes the hobby, promotes small batch brewing, support their local home brewers and offer great service.

I’ll step off my soapbox. As always I appreciate everyone visiting my blog and hope you all get at least a little inspiration from it.

Keep brewing, subscribe to the blog updates and stay tuned.


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