Strange Brew / Strange Brewery

Brewery, Bar, Homebrew, Beer-to-go

416 Boston Post Rd E
Marlborough, Massachusetts, 01752-3605
United States

// CLOSED //

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Ratings by mtchaput:
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Reviewed by mtchaput from Massachusetts

4.78/5  rDev +22.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5
Oh Man, Have you seen the new shop? I just moved back to the area and went to check it out and i was blown away. This place is huge! Far better than the little house that they use to occupy.

Quality - The Quality really varies, and i don't mean that in a bad way. They have everything, New or Used. So maybe you feel like going for the high end brand new, or maybe the same thing, only used. They stand behind all of their stuff. While i was there, a guy came in with a leaky keg that he had bought there... Not only did they replace it on the spot, but they pressure tested it, and cleaned and sanitized it before he left. The Quality of the store overall is awesome, while it may look disorganized at times, that seems to be from the sheer volume of supplies they bring in for their customers.

Service - The service is something that you really don't see anymore. When i walked in, everyone popped out of all these places to say hi to me. They offered me assistance, but weren't pushy - and when i did need help, it was like talking to an old friend. I'm only an extract brewer, but these guys didn't talk down to me, or make themselves seem elite, they really just seemed like they wanted to help me make a good beer.

Selection - They really do seem to have everything; From newby stuff like "True Brew" all the way up to the coveted "Blichmann". They make up their own recipe kits, which may not seem impressive - until you see the beer menu with HUNDREDS of options. I did a quick count in the hops fridge and i came up with about 85 different varieties from all over the world. The yeast fridge is equally impressive. Every Wyeast you can imagine, from the common to the seasonal, and all fresh within 2 weeks of manufacture date. The Grain/Grain room is amazing. Offerings from all the classic countries, in all the classic, rare, and new varieties.

Value - I bought a few recipe kits, and some new fermenting equipment, but i feel like the experience of Strange Brew is really what made it worth it. I spent quite a bit, but i actually left there feeling like i had an ally in the brewing world. As cheesy as it sounds, it was like i had a Big Brother that i could go to for help when i needed it with my Brews. That feeling alone makes me think that the value far exceeds the cost.

Overall - Go Check this place out. The store is massive, but its very apparent that they still live by the principles of a good family business. There's only 4 guys running the whole show, but boy do they really put their all into making sure you're going to succeed. Sure they may seem a bit rough around the edges, but they LIVE beer. That's what these other home brew shops are missing. These guys are in it for the beer.
Nov 26, 2012
More User Ratings:
Photo of jlindros
Reviewed by jlindros from Massachusetts

4.07/5  rDev +4.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.75
NOTE: This is a review for the brewery/bar, not the store. The store is essentially almost non-existent now.

OK, now that the bar is open in it's more semi-permanent location, I feel like I can review this place. It was just a temp area in the back for a while, and I'll have to come back and add more details once they get the beer garden open.

So it's a decent but small bar area, maybe 7-8 seats at the bar, but now has lots of high-top tables, comfy chairs/couches and some game type setups. The setting is basically in a homebrew shop, so you get all the supplies around, but also lots of beer and brewery paraphernalia. Usually not too busy when I go, typically after work on Thursday or Friday, typically only a few people in and out. Haven't been on Saturday although I hear it's usually a lot busier then. Also, a little disappointed that since the brewery opened, the selection of homebrew supplies has basically gone to nothing. All the grains, hops, malts, even little things here and there, all seem to get diverted to the brewery and nothing left for homebrewers.

The beers are actually surprisingly good (sorry Brian, I didn't mean that to sound patronizing). I guess all those years of homebrewing and sharing beers with customers paid off. There are a few here and there that could use work, and there are a lot of experimental "fun" beers, so that's always fun to try. The other beers are usually pretty solid. Lots of IPAs too, and they seem to just change up the beers all the time so there is rarely the same beer on tap if you come back a few weeks later. (Enough with the IPAs, maybe try some other fun styles). Typically like 8-10 beers on draft at any given time, mostly IPAs with different hops, and tons of fruited beers. They love to brew with fruit or other spice additives (like horseradish, peppers, or wasabi).

Only other issue is that the draft system is a little wishy-washy, so sometimes the beers are a bit foamy, but other times it pours perfectly. I think they plan to get a really nice draft system eventually.

So far it's basically just been the owner or one of the other workers running the bar when the owner is not there. He's great to talk to and hang out, learn all about the beers and his vision of the place. He's quick to give you a sample of anything.

So overall a fun place to checkout, good beers, good company if you like to talk beer with the owner.
Jan 28, 2019
Photo of JohnnyB
Reviewed by JohnnyB from Massachusetts

5/5  rDev +28.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5
I'm a newbie to brewing have done two kits and seven "batches". I sometimes feel like a big dope when I'm walking in to order my "supplies". This staff totally makes me feel comfortable, they never say "You should do this and that instead". What they do is give advice, inform You what your ingredients will add or subtract from Your brew, they are there when You need them, not crowding or leaving you dumbfounded either. Their selection is top notch as is there staff. I always look forward to making the trip to Marlborough and plotting my next brew!
Dec 10, 2015
Rated: 3.55 by kettleandcask from New York

Dec 04, 2014
Rated: 4.75 by WoostaBia from Massachusetts

Sep 24, 2014
Rated: 5 by HeavyDandtheGirls from Massachusetts

Aug 20, 2014
Rated: 4 by run4beer2112 from Massachusetts

Jun 19, 2014
Rated: 3.75 by geocool from Massachusetts

Jun 09, 2014
Rated: 4.5 by JKV96 from Massachusetts

Mar 23, 2014
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Reviewed by ActonBrewer from Massachusetts

2.49/5  rDev -36%
vibe: 2 | quality: 3.5 | service: 1 | selection: 3
I have shopped at Strange Brew dozens of times, with this past weekend being my last. I have been teaching my brother-in-law to homebrew and using commercial beers as a style selector. He wanted to make a hoppy red ale (think Pursuit of hoppiness) and asked one of the employees what he might suggest to get a recipe together. The employee's response was a pointing finger to his "Fight the system" tattoo as he told us that he doesn't drink commercial beers and couldn't help us. We politely asked for a red ale kit, and I added two extra ounces of hops to tweak it ourselves. While the store was open, we felt unwelcome - almost as if we were inconveniencing them.

An elitist attitude in a messy and disorganized store is not the way to win new customers. While browsing, I felt like something was going to fall on me or crash to the floor. If you were well stocked and welcoming to new home brewers, you might be able to pawn off over-priced equipment. While I like the owner and have worked with him in the past for brewing demos, something needs to change drastically for me to do any more business with them.

The bottom line is that if you want to charge higher prices than your competition, you need to employ excellent staff with quality ingredients in a well organized and comforatable atmosphere.
Jul 11, 2011
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Reviewed by AllThingsNinja from Massachusetts

2.54/5  rDev -34.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2 | service: 3 | selection: 2.5
Strangebrew is located in a house on a retail dominated section of the post road, and is adorned with a few dead bears. It's hippie and welcoming, and pretty much decked out as your run of the mill homebrew store with a little too much stuff for the space.

The grains are annoyingly pre-packaged in 1 - 10lb increments. The variety doesn't run too deep. They are the standard grains that have been in play for the past 10 years with cara-bohemian and marris otter (but no golden promise). Grain is pretty steep. Thirteen pounds ran over $33 and that included a 10 Lb bag of base malt.

The hops are stored in a drinks cooler which isn't very cool and has no door so it ends up being a hair less than room temp. The variety here is solid, but that's pretty standard in this day in age. Hop prices are fair ($3 oz).

This place won't tempt me to drive somewhere other than Modern in Cambridge, or Jaspers in Nashua.

yeah, it's cool that they have lots of taps for sampling kit brews. I'm not sure that's legal. I also haven't bought a beer kit in 5 years. I like recipes and self formulation. This shop is not optimized for those interests.
Apr 09, 2011
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Reviewed by kegwizard from Massachusetts

4.7/5  rDev +20.8%
I have been shopping here for years. They are very nice people and always try to make sure i leave with what i need to make my beer. Ever since they moved to their new store they have so much more stuff. All the hops and yeast are refridgerated. Im always so happy with the selection of yeast its usually very fresh but sometimes it sells quick so if you want a special kind call first, they recently started carrying white labs (they always had wyeast) They have a huge selection of all kinds of brew equipment for me to drool over. they have a full kegging section that could get beer to the moon if needed. They always have some sweet homebrew to sample while shopping.
Mar 17, 2010
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Reviewed by MaliciousBot from New Hampshire

3/5  rDev -22.9%
I have only been to two homebrew stores in my life. One is Blackstone Brew supply and the other is Strange Brew. Compared to Blackstone brew which recieves high grades by others, this place competes pretty well with ingrediant selection. Lots of variety, great selection of yeasts, great selection of hop varieties and great LME and DME selection.

I just went in for some yeast and something to strain hops with. Paid 4 bucks for the yeast and opted not to purchase a really cool strainer that would have been ideal for me because it was about 30 bucks. Sorry, maybe im cheap but thats way to much for something like that. I can buy an extract kit for that kind of money. I was offered An IPA made with columbus hops. It was delicious. Yum.
Sep 24, 2009
Photo of dirkchivers
Reviewed by dirkchivers from California

3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
I have not been to many other homebrew stores so my ability to compare is rather limited, still i like going here. The people have generally been rather personable, but i would have liked more help as a beginner to brewing; I want to be told exactly how to do such and such, not about your years of experience or "how easy it is" - i am past the point of it being "easy." It seems as though they have finally gotten comfortable in their new location and there stock is sensibly arranged, though it is very much a place where one must know what they are looking for. I would echo other BA's comments about the prices of equipment, i would not and did not get my equip from them because 56$ was (ahem) rather steep for a plastic bottle with a handle. As for their brewing stock, it was enough to overwhelm me, though probably enough to underwhelm the experienced. I think the store could also use a good dusting and some music.
Apr 28, 2009
Photo of StrangeBrewer76
Reviewed by StrangeBrewer76 from Massachusetts

4.45/5  rDev +14.4%
What I liked best about Strange Brew were the kits. As an extract/specialty grain brewer you would be hard pressed to find a better selection of kits. There are probably forty to fifty different kinds to choose from and all kinds of other ingredients to tweak it to your liking.

Brian the owner is a real nice guy able to answer all your questions and offer suggestions from experience being a homebrewer himself.

There is also a kegerator of some home brew for you to sample if you so choose while you browse.

Less than but nearly half of the store is dedicated to wine making as well as most home brew shops are.

If you're looking for a small pluming part or minor ingredient you would be better off asking because it's a little disorganized when it comes to things that don't sell every day. They probably have it but you would not likely find it without guidance.
Feb 08, 2009
Photo of Faulconerbrewing
Reviewed by Faulconerbrewing from Massachusetts

3.5/5  rDev -10%
Nice guy who owns it. It's right off rt 20 in Marlborough and it looks like a house. He has a lot of selection for both wine and beer and always has one of the kits on tap for you to taste.

The shop is very expensive though. He wanted $56 for a 6 gallon glass carboy, which is close to double what you would pay online or at most other shops.

Ingredients were also very expensive. I paid $8 for one pound of dry malt extract. Also, I did not see the ability to by large amounts of grain for all grainb brewing. Grains need to be purchased in eaither one or three pound bags.

If I'm in a pinch, I'll deinfitly use strangebrew, but I will go elsewhere to ry and save some money.
Jan 30, 2009
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Reviewed by krantul from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +2.8%
This is a pretty good-sized homebrew supply shop; they have a pretty impressive array of stuff, with a huge variety of malt extracts and grains (and bulk grain). They stock a pretty good range of equipment, with a few of the more recent innovations (such as Better Bottles), and a really good supply of kegging parts and related knicknacks.

It is, as other reviewers have noted, a bit chaotic in there. It's a bit dim and rustic, with a few aisles of really high shelves loaded up with stuff. The ingredients appeared relatively new and fresh, though some of the equipment and parts looked a little dusty. There's a lot of oddball stuff in there, like old glassware and assorted breweriana junk. I find that fairly interesting, though it may be offputting to someone who expects a bright and shiny shop; I must have poked around for a half hour on my first visit.

They have a very nice selection of specialty malts, and I was pleased that I could get everything I wanted for an Arrogant Bastard clone I was working on. The hop selection is reasonable, best I've seen locally, but it still suffers a little from the lack of variety in whole leaf hops we seem to have around these parts. They stock Wyeast smack-packs for yeast, though the supplies seemed a little depleted when I was in.

Staff is friendly. I didn't really have any pressing questions for them, and I'm usually one to just wander about and find my own tuff even if takes twice as long. I spoke to one employee about wort aeration options, and while he didn't seem to hold any particular opinion on the subject, he knew where the various parts were round the store and I walked out with a Liquid Bread aeration stone. On another visit, they gave me a taste of an Octoberfest they'd brewed up, which was quite nice.

As with most smallish shops, the pricing on equipment can vary from reasonable to steep, but I found their ingredients to be very reasonably priced, cheaper than most online sources when you take shipping fees into consideration. The only downside for me is location, as it's a bit of task to get there from Worcester; they're not remotely near the Marlborough highway exits.
May 27, 2006
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Reviewed by Burt from Rhode Island

3.45/5  rDev -11.3%
Quality, the only items that I have bought from here have been old magazines and some keg lube and corks. There are some areas in here that are a little dusty and disorganized, but is well lit.

Service, the guy behind the counter was quiet, always seems to be working on his computer when I go there. They have an online store so he must be busy getting orders.

Selection, they have a huge amount of inventory compared to other places that I have been to. They have new and used bottles, labels and a lot of store made beer kits to choose from and your basic home brew supplies that you would be looking for.

Value, some of the prices were high on something’s and reasonable on others.

Overall, I have meetings down the road from here once in a while so I always take a trip to check them out. I recommend that you do too.
Feb 28, 2006
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Reviewed by OldSock from District of Columbia

3.6/5  rDev -7.5%
I had never been, but I had forgotten to buy rice hulls for a pumpkin beer so I made a quick run over to pick some up and to check this place out.

Quality – The couple of items I bought seemed reasonably fresh. However, the whole store had sort of a dingy, disorganized feel, that I wasn’t a big fan of.

Service – There were two people working when I went, the guy behind the counter was on the phone, and the other guy was in the backroom. When the guy from the back came out he helped me find some things and chatted for a few minutes.

Selection – Seemed like a well stocked store, just about everything a homebrewer needs, both equipment and ingredients. However, I did not see anything in stock that would distinguish this from the half dozen other homebrew stores that I have been in.

Price – The one big detraction was the higher the normal prices, not a lot more, but everything seemed to be a dollar or two more than what I am used to paying.

Seemed like a decent store, but nothing worth going out of the way for.
Oct 27, 2005
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Reviewed by gentlebubbles from Massachusetts

4.2/5  rDev +8%
A small, tightly-organized shop, aside from the cans of extract that seemed to have wandered about. It didn't seem dusty at all to me. Maybe that was the old location?

The guy behind the counter was silent, even on being greeted, but once I started to ask questions, he was quite helpful. He even noticed that I was clearly getting ingredients for a batch of beer and asked if I needed yeast.

The extracts look good and the grains are mostly in bulk bins, with some specialty grains in packages. A freezer holds a good selection of hops, all in sealed foil-wrap packages.

There's an impressive collection of back issues of home-brew magazines stuffed into wire racks at the front counter. Shelves of secondhand bottles and brewing equipment line a couple of walls.

Prices are competitive across the board. If you know what you're looking for, this is a good place to go.
Aug 05, 2004
Photo of xXTequila
Reviewed by xXTequila from Massachusetts

2.5/5  rDev -35.7%
My first impression of this place is it needs a good cleaning.
Most everything here is dusty and looks like it has been there quite a while. Another thing is it isn't very well lit. The people working there stay behind the counter, barely mumble to you when they finally talk and dont seem to have the common sense to turn down the stereo behind the counter when you are talking to them even though you keep saying "sorry can't hear you" what was that?" or "what?". The prices I would say are average for ingredients.
I go here because it is somewhat closer than other shops.
Nov 21, 2002
Strange Brew / Strange Brewery in Marlborough, MA
Brewery rating: 3.82 out of 5 with 20 ratings