WARNING: If You Do Not Support Your LHBS It Will Close.

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by plaztikjezuz, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. plaztikjezuz

    plaztikjezuz Defender (600) Dec 19, 2004 Michigan

    I think the title pretty much sums it up in the business world.

    The industry is in the middle of a slow down and if you like having a local homebrew show you need to shop there.

    I know they do not always have what you want when you get a hair up you butt and just want to brew with little notice.

    But only buying 50 lbs sacks of grain from us will in the long run bite you in the butt when your local shop closes for lack of support.

    While I do not have a problem with many of the cheaper online shops (More Beer/Adventures). I do have a problem with shops owned by AB InBev. They are not a friend to the craft beer world and have little use for homebrewers who do not buy their products.
    MrOH, jlordi12, telejunkie and 6 others like this.
  2. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,381) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I would definitely buy more from my LHBS if they offered any added value for the price, like brewing knowledge beyond the most basic, or even basic knowledge that's generally correct. Sadly, mine does not, and most of the ones I have visited don't.

    When I do visit my LHBS, more often than not I hear some newbie getting terrible advice. Sometimes it's possible to join the conversation and help, but it can be pretty awkward. There's only so many times you can take hearing "Don't ever use an aluminum kettle" or "We don't have Caramunich, but regular Munich is basically the same thing."

    That said, there are some very good LHBSs. If I lived closer to Philly, I would but a lot from Keystone. I would hazard a guess that yours is a good one also, given your interest in sharing on the forum.
  3. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (824) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    That's funny and tragic all at the same time. The guys at mine are nice, to be sure, but really only versed in the basics, as you've said.

    Only ever go in to buy grain, as I don't brew enough to justify buying by the 55 lb. sack and having my own mill. Hops I get from HopsDirect because of their price and because I like being able to choose from a variety of whole leaf. Yeast/microbes I mostly culture myself.
    GormBrewhouse likes this.
  4. crcostel

    crcostel Initiate (80) Feb 26, 2006 Illinois

    What is happening with LHBS mirrors the general economy. Brick and Mortar stores cannot compete on price with the internet megastores. To survive they need to provide knowledge, service and/or freshness.

    If your store has it, then by all means patronize your LHBS. If it doesnt than nothing can keep it afloat.
  5. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Defender (625) May 29, 2011 Florida
    Beer Trader

    I would go to my local homebrew shop if:

    1. It was closer to my house (its 35 mins away)
    2. They had their beers on tap for tasting (for donations) or just samples
    3. Some lively & technical discussion about brewing.

    This would make the higher price worthwhile. But, to me, the drive is not worth it. Convenience factor wins out and I order my ingredients online at Farm House Brewing Supply or More Beer.
  6. StupidlyBrave

    StupidlyBrave Initiate (161) Jan 2, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I get my advice here and my supplies there. I do very little online, usually only things my local shop doesn't have. Like flaked wheat... But their yeast varieties aren't very good, I may have to reach out to other places for that if I want certain specialty strains.
  7. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,139) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    If it weren't for my LHBS I wouldn't brew.
  8. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (321) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    I impulse buy at lhbs. I buy on line and thru friends here and there.
    I believe brew hut in Denver and others like it will continue because of population nearby and generally a informative, fun and supremacy full of choices of home brew product.
    plaztikjezuz and SFACRKnight like this.
  9. Witherby

    Witherby Initiate (137) Jan 5, 2011 Massachusetts

    I almost never buy my ingredients online unless it is something obscure because shipping seems to eat up any savings.

    My LHBS is only 10 minutes from my house but I hate shopping there because of the poor selection and surly owner. Fortunately I have another LHBS near my work and another one on my way home from work.

    As for info, I get that from books and magazines and the internet. Sure seems like a lot of people at these stores don't take advantage of any of those resources, though. How do people that live and breathe homebrewing have so little intellectual curiosity?
    FeDUBBELFIST and Mothergoose03 like this.
  10. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,139) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Have you been since they put in the meeting and classrooms? They have a full hood and do demos on a ruby street system now.
    GormBrewhouse likes this.
  11. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,346) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Yes, the hobby has slowed down, more shops are closing than opening. Brew more often, support your local shop if you like it well enough.

    @plaztikjezuz where is you shop in MI, roughly?

    I buy mostly from AiH, some from the small shop in S. Lyon.
  12. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Disciple (321) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Hopefully I will return next year. 2 years ago we dropped in for supplies and the choices was overwhelming. Staff was super friendly. If it was not a double brew day I could have stayed a long time.
    SFACRKnight likes this.
  13. csurowiec

    csurowiec Devotee (429) Mar 7, 2010 Maryland

    I support my LHBS. It is only about 5 miles from my house. They are well stocked and the knowledge is decent. The only thing I have purchased online is kegs because AIH was running a deal once on buying multiple kegs and the local store couldn't even come close.
    I also try to help the store by volunteering my time to do classes in the store. Hopefully that helps to bring in more customers.
    FeDUBBELFIST and Tebuken like this.
  14. Tebuken

    Tebuken Disciple (326) Jun 6, 2009 Argentina

    Really?. Is it real that homebrewing activity is declining in USA? . Here in Argentina is a terrible BOOM !! these days.
  15. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,346) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    This is true, and has been covered in Zymurgy, and at HomebrewCon that is going on now. The boom in Latin America is known. Do you know that the AHA has started a Spanish translation of Zymurgy online?
  16. Tebuken

    Tebuken Disciple (326) Jun 6, 2009 Argentina

    Didn´t know that.
  17. Buck89

    Buck89 Poo-Bah (2,171) Feb 7, 2015 Tennessee
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    I have a great (IMO) LHBS about 15 minutes away. They're a combined gardening/brewing store and do both very well. I buy almost everything there except hops, which I prefer to get from Farmhouse or Yakima.
  18. JrGtr

    JrGtr Devotee (407) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    I generally support my LHBS. Their prices aren't the best, but they're convenient and they usually have good advice.
    Grain by the pound is $2.00, by the sack pretty much averages to online, when you factor in shipping ($50 - $60, depending on variety)
    HOps are a bit pricey, $6 an ounce or so, they usually have a good selection, but yeast is pretty well priced, generally in good shape, though they don't always have the more obscure strains.
    Equipment is mostly fairly priced, and they but and sell used stuff.
  19. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,381) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    $6 an ounce for common varieties? WTF.
  20. Tebuken

    Tebuken Disciple (326) Jun 6, 2009 Argentina

    1 LB Pilsen 2row malt 50 cents u$s
    1 oz Cascades 7% AA 1 u$s

    Don´t think come to live here is a good idea, unless you think you can accustom to live in the middle of a giant clutter,LOL
  21. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (736) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I'm not loyal...what has my LHBS done for me lately?
    I don't use the telegraph anymore either.
    What did it for me was pre-ordering some WY 1318 and then having my wife pick up the 1968 that was "pretty much the same". :angry:
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  22. YamBag

    YamBag Initiate (190) Feb 2, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Keystone has great selection and everyone is friendly and helpful, but I don't find the staff to be that knowledgeable. I really like Fancy Camper in Frazer, Cory is great and is knowledgeable, plus he's a passionate homebrew.
    kcq101 likes this.
  23. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (253) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    I support my store for random cheaper pieces of equipment but there kettles are insanely marked up. I always buy my grain there(sometimes in bulk), hops are half the price when I buy pounds at Yakima house. If I need 2-3 oz I buy there and I reuse yeast.
    All in all I probably spend 40-80 dollars a month there with it randomly being over a hundred some months. They are very helpful with recipes and equipment help. My store is keg and barrel (Berlin,NJ). They are very good
    epk, LuskusDelph and plaztikjezuz like this.
  24. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (736) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I'm almost afraid to use the StarSan refill I got from my LHBS ...the price was right, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's not really StarSan, but 100% phosphoric acid...maybe it doesn't matter :confused:
    jlordi12 and plaztikjezuz like this.
  25. invertalon

    invertalon Devotee (434) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    I have a very good brew shop here in Cleveland which (I believe) is somehow co-owned or operated by Platform Brewing... At least, I think there is some relationship there.

    Great inventory, prices are pretty good... Usually I try to go there, but sometimes, online ordering is still more convenient especially because I buy bulk-hops and sacks of grain, even shipped, come out cheaper per pound then when I can buy for there and pickup... $50-55 for a bag of 2-row I can pickup or around $40ish shipped?? Easy choice...

    But I still like to drop in and buy my yeast and specialty grains there when I can.
    SFACRKnight likes this.
  26. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,139) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    My LHBS does discount refills on PBW, they buy a 55 gallon tub IIRC and refill off that for almost half the price.
    Granitebeard and GreenKrusty101 like this.
  27. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (736) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I mix my own PBW...TSP Substitute and Oxiclean, but if I could find it at half price I wouldn't bother.
  28. plaztikjezuz

    plaztikjezuz Defender (600) Dec 19, 2004 Michigan

    I can tell you it is awkward because you are stepping on someones toes.

    I sometimes give people advice I am not happy with because they would not understand the real deal without it taking way too long. I have work to do and I cannot dedicate 30-60 minutes to a customer. Then make other customers wait while I go over it again and again because they do not want to read.

    I'm all about helping people and have taught hundreds of people to homebrew.
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  29. plaztikjezuz

    plaztikjezuz Defender (600) Dec 19, 2004 Michigan

    The Red Salamander in Grand Ledge (suburb of Lansing).

    I like Adventures, Jason is a cool guy, I met him first when I worked at Brewing World (Kuhnhenn's) in Warren. As a store we buy from Adventures wholesale business. So we like this place. A lot.
    hopfenunmaltz likes this.
  30. plaztikjezuz

    plaztikjezuz Defender (600) Dec 19, 2004 Michigan

    Not the same thing. TSP is poisonous, PBW is designed to rise away easily.

    I built a keg/carboy cleaner it uses 1 gallon to clean many items.
  31. plaztikjezuz

    plaztikjezuz Defender (600) Dec 19, 2004 Michigan

    We do acid sanitizer refills, but we do not sell Star San, it is a similar product. But not made by Five Star it is made by a local chemical company. Many breweries in Michigan use their products as well as dairies.
    hopfenunmaltz and GreenKrusty101 like this.
  32. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,381) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, but I'm not talking about customers who don't get it. I'm talking about crap advice, right off the bat. If someone can't be bothered to know their business, their toes probably should be stepped on. Or their business should fail. I've seen the latter a couple times now in my area.

    Regarding teaching/understanding "the real deal," I have often wondered why stores don't have "flyers" with answers to some of the most common questions. They could give them the quick (but correct) answer, then hand them a cheat sheet to take home.
  33. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,381) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Now that sounds like a great loss (or break-even) leader that could bring customers in. Something like that would probably get me into the LHBS more often, where I'd be likely to spend more while I'm there. (Even if the brewing knowledge wasn't there.)
  34. plaztikjezuz

    plaztikjezuz Defender (600) Dec 19, 2004 Michigan

    I hope your local shop gets more knowledgeable employees.

    The main reason why no fliers are book sales. No one would buy a book if I gave them the info for free. Plus it could get into copyright territory?

    We have a cheat sheet for brewing with extract. I was going to make one for cider but I decided against it. The amount of the sales really did not warrant the effort. Cider is expensive so by the time they get here the purse strings have been tied and I have really try to talk them into a $2 pack of yeast nutrient and campden tablets.

    I love it when people tell me they want to make a killer product and then do not follow my advice on how to do that. YouTube is full of "Uncle Buck's". Yes, think the John Candy movie where he is a know it all and a convincing one at that. Those are YouTube Uncle Bucks.
  35. plaztikjezuz

    plaztikjezuz Defender (600) Dec 19, 2004 Michigan

    Shops are not supposed to do this. At one point in time Five Star stopped selling 5 gallon buckets of PBW to homebrew shops. This was 2008ish. They have backed off a little. But if they see you selling in your own packaging online they will send that letter.

    But yes we use the acid sanitizer as a loss leader. $12 per pint, $6 refill, $18 per quart is about half the price of SS. The cost of the iodine concentrate went up so much it is cheaper to buy Five Stars IO Star Iodopher.
  36. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (736) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Almost everything is poisonous :sunglasses:...I was talking about TSP substitute though :astonished: Cheers
  37. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (736) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    On a side note, my buddy gave me a gallon of "DU-TEX" temperature sensitive extra-strength acid cleaner (for milkstone on dairy equipment) that's probably every bit as good as StarSan/phosphoric acid...nice living in a dairy town :slight_smile:
  38. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,346) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    OK, know of the store, but have n ever been there.
    plaztikjezuz likes this.
  39. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,139) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    The place that does that, castle rock homebrew supply, has very knowledgeable staff. The only downside is they don't have a huge inventory.
  40. Granitebeard

    Granitebeard Initiate (158) Aug 24, 2016 Maine

    I buy from my local shop. It is basically on the way to/from work and I try to buy there as much as I can. Yeast and some special hops are the hard part, for variety and price (yeast is like $10 for liquid). Granted by the time you factor in shipping it is about even. While they seem far more "average joe" kind of guys, one of the original owners now has two tap rooms in the area, so I guess their base knowledge is sound.

    Just a random note about AB, not saying I want to shop from their HB websites, but the Merrimack NH location will be brewing small batch craft beers soon-ish. I heard that from my father who lives basically across the river from it. Not saying these small batch craft brews will change my mind about AB but they are apparently trying to dip their toes into the craft brew world.
    plaztikjezuz likes this.