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LHBS woes

So I envy you people who live in Minnesota. I have 3 LHBS within a 45 minute drive of my house. None of them are all inclusive. Meaning I either need to travel to multiple locations or just order online to complete a recipe. I always like to support local when possible but its becoming a hassle.

Yesterday I went to one shop to get the ingredients and the didn’t have the yeast I needed (was looking for WLP838) or the Carafa II. I figured I would head over to another of the LHBS since it’s close to work. Well, despite their website saying they had WLP838, they didn’t in store so I had to settle for the last WLP820 in the fridge. On their site they are advertising the new Avangard malts. I ask about them while I’m in there and they have 3x1lb bags of Munich repackaged by LD Carlson. So I just grabbed my Carafa II and yeast and left annoyed.

I was looking on the site of the 3rd LHBS near me at the availability of their malts and while they have a wide selection of maltsters they don’t sell 2-row. At all.

Like I said, I really want to support local business but running around from town to town takes time and money. I’m usually pretty leery ordering liquid yeast online cause I don’t know what conditions it was in while it was shipped. I may just need to get over that and strictly order online.

Does anyone else have this issue?

I have 3 LHBS within 20min or so and another 2 under an hour away. I really only shop at 2 of these on a regular basis. I think the problems you list are common. The smaller guys can’t always have every yeast or grain available. Having said that I can call, text, email, or even facebook message either of the owners and ask what they have available. They get back to me promptly and if they don’t have what I need, they will get it in pretty quickly. I do have to occasionally swap an ingredient, but IMO that’s still a small price to pay for having 2 great LHBS’s so close to me.

I moved from Baltimore where there are 3 really solid LHBS’s within 30 minutes to Rochester, NY where there are 3 really horrible LHBS’s within 20 minutes. Let’s just say this: they are combination homebrew and hydroponic stores, so take a wild guess on which inventory they focus on.

I have zero compunction about throwing business to an out-of-state retailer with these cheeba monkeys as the only other alternative.

It does sound as though each of us has a business opportunity however…

I do understand the overhead in having lots of different types of yeast especially with having such a short shelf life but it just seems there would be at least one store out there that would have everything I need 90+% of the time but it seems I’m always substituting something or another.

Here in the KC area…

I have one that’s 5-10 minutes away depending on how I hit the lights. They carry the basics. Their malt selection is paltry (prepackaged LD Carlson). They sell White Labs yeast. Their prices are pretty reasonable. They’re frackin closed on Sundays. That’s half the weekend! I get yeast or emergency items here–but not on Sundays. :roll:

Another LHBS 15-20 minutes away. They have the best inventory in the area. Their prices are outrageous for everything but specialty grains. They sell Wyeast. I buy yeast, specialty grains or emergency items from them.

Another one 15-20 minutes away. They’re mainly a brew-on-premises shop that sells homebrew products on the side. They have good prices on sacks of grain. They sell Wyeast. I buy sacks and yeast from them.

There are a couple others about 30-40 minutes away. Too far to justify the fuel expenditure.

There are some things that nobody in the area carries. For example, CaraRed or pale chocolate malt.

I used to buy nearly everything online. Now I buy sacks and yeast locally, hops online in bulk and nearly all of my equipment/other supplies online from various vendors.

see my avatar.

I have one LHBS 15-20 mins away that just opened recently. They have decent inventory, decent prices and the owners are really nice people. I like shopping here because it’s geographically desirable and I like supporting local new businesses.

I have another 30-40 mins away that has a little better inventory, lower prices(lower rent too I’m sure) and the bonus, a much more experienced brewer/BJCP judge/owner. The owner is a great knowledge resource for a less experienced brewer like me. I like to shop here for the lower prices and free advice!

I understand how ya feel Matt. The two LHBS I go too are about a hour away and carry very limited supplies of stuff. One of them only carries dry yeast and better grains. The other carries wyeast and white labs yeast and mostly lme and dme. So what I been doing is me and my fellow brewers will put a shoping list together and order in bulk online and split the order when it comes.

Back when I lived in the States, I didn’t know how good I had it for homebrewing supplies. There were three very good shops within 40 minutes drive of my house, and they were all open late enough that I could stop by after work, or on the weekend. If there was something special I wanted to order over the net, shipping was reasonably or even free.

Now I have one LHBS about 30 minutes away with less selection than any of the three I used to shop at, despite being the best stocked HBS in the country (and the only one within 2 hours drive of me). I rarely brew APAs or IPAs because until recently the only American hops that were stocked were Cascade, Williamette and Amarillo. The store closes early, so I have to leave work early to get there, and it is closed on weekends.
Internet orders cost an arm and a leg, with shipping costs often coming in around the same range as the order itself. And that’s for Europe-based web stores. I have yet to find a N. American home brew shop that ships to Europe.
But on the bright side, I’ve learned to get decent brews substituting ingredients, and have become an expert in reviving old yeast packs and building them up into healthy starters.

Here in SW FL, I have one…yeah one and it is fairly sparse inside, on top of that it’s about a 30 min one way trip. I would love to support him but I’m probably going to have to just check with him when I need ingredients, buy what he has and order the rest.

It’s cold down here in FL for beer lovers, real cold…it’s getting better (we now have 2 microbreweries in Fort Myers…2!) but it’s still a bland Mic Ultra kinda town.

[quote=“schitzoflink”]Here in SW FL, I have one…yeah one and it is fairly sparse inside, on top of that it’s about a 30 min one way trip. I would love to support him but I’m probably going to have to just check with him when I need ingredients, buy what he has and order the rest.

It’s cold down here in FL for beer lovers, real cold…it’s getting better (we now have 2 microbreweries in Fort Myers…2!) but it’s still a bland Mic Ultra kinda town.[/quote]

Cigar…City??? Tampa’s what, an hour north of you?

Can you get Intuition from Jacksonville down by you? We are going to Amelia Island for a babymoon thing and I came across them. They look pretty delicious.

Beer culture/beer scene all starts with homebrewers. Get a club together!

Maybe you have a business opportunity for a nano…

But, as Peter Griffin says, I digest…

I really shouldn’t complain. Maryland Homebrew, Annapolis Homebrew and the newer Nepenthe Homebrew in Baltimore did really spoil me, but our shops aren’t terrible here in Roch.

If I didn’t have decent enough shops, however, and had a reasonable amount of space, and a non-nagging wife, I would just invest in a crusher, some rubbermaid/Vittles Vaults and buy grain by the sack. Keep 5-ish US-05 sachets around, buy hops in bulk and vacuum seal/freeze (even with good shops nearby, especially if one likes hoppy beers, its foolish not to do this anyway), and learn to harvest yeast and grow up yeast as Cellars said. Basically find out which things you use a lot of, get an Amazon Prime subscription, order in bulk, and for things that are perishable, learn to delay their perishing. Plus it almost feels like being a Prepper.

[quote=“Pietro”]Cigar…City??? Tampa’s what, an hour north of you?

Can you get Intuition from Jacksonville down by you? We are going to Amelia Island for a babymoon thing and I came across them. They look pretty delicious.

Beer culture/beer scene all starts with homebrewers. Get a club together!

Maybe you have a business opportunity for a nano…

But, as Peter Griffin says, I digest…

I really shouldn’t complain. Maryland Homebrew, Annapolis Homebrew and the newer Nepenthe Homebrew in Baltimore did really spoil me, but our shops aren’t terrible here in Roch.

If I didn’t have decent enough shops, however, and had a reasonable amount of space, and a non-nagging wife, I would just invest in a crusher, some rubbermaid/Vittles Vaults and buy grain by the sack. Keep 5-ish US-05 sachets around, buy hops in bulk and vacuum seal/freeze (even with good shops nearby, especially if one likes hoppy beers, its foolish not to do this anyway), and learn to harvest yeast and grow up yeast as Cellars said. Basically find out which things you use a lot of, get an Amazon Prime subscription, order in bulk, and for things that are perishable, learn to delay their perishing. Plus it almost feels like being a Prepper.[/quote]

1st) Tampa is about 1.5hrs north of here so a 3 hour round trip

2nd) Cigar City is a decent company but I prefer both local breweries to them and there are so many smaller breweries I hit up if I make that trip, which I will be on the 28th :slight_smile:
Pegs - Gulfport
3 Daughters - St pete
Green Bench - St Pete
Cycle Brewing - St Pete
Pair O’Dice - Clearwater
Rapp - Clearwater
Barley Mow - Largo
Dunedin Brewery - Dunedin
Seventh Sun - Dunedin

3rd) I just came into a fridge that I will be using as a fermentation chamber in the garage so I will have some more room in the house fridge for storage. Though I am waiting to invest in All-grain until I have a few more batches under my belt and have convinced the wife this is a long term endeavor.

4th) There are two clubs in Fort Myers, but I just started brewing in January and have yet to find the time to contact and/or go meet with them to see which would be a good fit if at all.

5th) I was bemoaning the lack of a close and well stocked LHBS since I would love to support a local business, the closest brewery to me is 20ish min and I’m still there at least twice a month. That is even where I brewed my first batch, right next to their 50 barrel system :slight_smile:

6th) I would love to open a nano one day when I have a lot more experience, but right now there is a bill up for vote that would block new breweries from having a tasting room…woo go big beer puppets…

Matt,

I live about 3 minutes from Leeners and am repeatedly let down, so I feel your pain. I’m not sure where you’re at in Cleveland but if you’re on the south or east sided suburbs and can make a trip to grape and granary in Akron, they have a huge selection of yeast and most malts. It takes me about 20 minutes to drive down there and they are a great second source. Other than planning ahead and ordering from NB or B3, it’s what we have to put up with.

To Pietro, the business opportunity you speak of is tantalizing for sure. But over the years, I’ve seen the smaller shops dwindle away their inventory and lose staff or completely close down. Probably a product of the economy, but how can a small shop compete with a huge online retailer like NB, B3, AHB, etc.? What I’d like to see come back is the brew on premise/supply store businesses. I feel like new brewers are hard to come by nowadays, and with every macro brewery getting into the “craft” market, people will be even less likely to BYO.

[quote=“moose”]Matt,

I live about 3 minutes from Leeners and am repeatedly let down, so I feel your pain. I’m not sure where you’re at in Cleveland but if you’re on the south or east sided suburbs and can make a trip to grape and granary in Akron, they have a huge selection of yeast and most malts. It takes me about 20 minutes to drive down there and they are a great second source. Other than planning ahead and ordering from NB or B3, it’s what we have to put up with.

To Pietro, the business opportunity you speak of is tantalizing for sure. But over the years, I’ve seen the smaller shops dwindle away their inventory and lose staff or completely close down. Probably a product of the economy, but how can a small shop compete with a huge online retailer like NB, B3, AHB, etc.? What I’d like to see come back is the brew on premise/supply store businesses. I feel like new brewers are hard to come by nowadays, and with every macro brewery getting into the “craft” market, people will be even less likely to BYO.[/quote]

Yeah Leeners is the place I visit the most and the place closest to my work. I work in Twinsburg but I live further north in Lyndhurst so Grape and Granary would be a 35-45 minute drive for me one way from home. They are also the store that (at least according to their website) doesn’t carry 2-row. Could just be they don’t have it on their website or I’m an idiot and can’t find it :slight_smile:

I’ve never actually been to Brew Mentor in Mentor but my buddy lives out there and any time he’s headed over to my place, I have him grab me some stuff from there that may or may not be at Leeners. I like to grab my yeast at Leeners cause I can throw it in the fridge at work and fire up my starter when I get home. But they’re terrible at keeping the different varieties in stock.

Matt,
Come on over… http://www.homebrewohio.com/pd-briess.cfm Drop $100 and get 10% off. I do everytime I go. I still think Grape and Granary is the way to go.

[quote=“zwiller”]Matt,
Come on over… http://www.homebrewohio.com/pd-briess.cfm Drop $100 and get 10% off. I do everytime I go. I still think Grape and Granary is the way to go.[/quote]

Maybe on my way to Cedar Point this summer :slight_smile:

Yep, worth a stop. Pretty good shop. Call John at Grape and Granary, they might be old school and just not listing the 2 row online…

Wow, maybe (hopefully) its a difference of geography, but I have to disagree with this one. Most of the people that don’t drink big beer, won’t drink ‘crafty’ beer from big beer either, unless they get truly hoodwinked (which has happened to all of us I think). Also, I feel like everywhere I turn, there is someone new to homebrewing. The true DIY/hipster/barter/anarchist scene aside (and at least where I’ve been, that’s a big part of the HB contingent), I feel like many people who are in ‘other’ fields that are ‘into’ beer are making that first step toward beer freedom and buying a kit.

I am at a point where I buy very little beer, because I can brew what I like, have plenty for me to drink, cellar, and to give away, and my process is honed enough where I can make beer that I enjoy as well as others. Granted, not all hobbyists get to that level (not meaning to brag with that statement) but I feel like its still a healthily-growing pastime.

I was kind of half-joking about opening a LHBS, largely because retail is a huge pain in the @$$ (apologies to anyone that works in retail, but it personally is not for me). However, I do think a LHBS can compete with online retailers, depending on location, if done right. Hosting homebrew club meetings, having festivals/partner days, learn-to-brew events, brew-on-premise, knowledgeable, helpful staff, good social media all contribute to the Baltimore area having 3 successful HB supply stores. :cheers:

We have one LHBS in town and they usually have a decent selection of stuff in stock. Problem is they are in a location that is hard to get to, their parking situation sucks, and their hours can sometimes be a little difficult to work around. I’ve found that I can order everything online and have it shipped to my door for the same price or a little less than the aggravation of having to deal with their setup. Don’t mind supporting local business but I shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced to do it.

I have it great in Fort Worth, TX. My store carries every grain I could want, wyeast, open 7 days a week, and the owner takes pride in having pricing comparable to major online retailers.

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