Support your local homebrew shop (or LHBS). That is a common statement I hear sometimes. I like the spirit of the saying for sure, but I think I have met the end of my time at my local shop. Wednesday I went to my local shop and I was pleasantly surprised. Usually, they are missing several ingredients that I’d like to put into my recipe. (To make it worse, they often suggest things as substitutes that personally I don’t think will really work.)
Two things they came up short on. I wanted some Crystal 80 for an Oatmeal Stout recipe. They don’t carry C80, they had some sort of C150 (cara-red I think?, so its not even a crystal malt). I looked in there little malt guide they have hanging on the shelf and they closest thing I could find to it LISTED was a Cara-Munich III 65-75L. But when I picked up the one pound bag of the stuff, it was 53-63L. Well, I have never used Cara-Munich so I figured I’d suck it up and use the Cara-Munich III in place of C80… ugh.
The second thing they didn’t have was American 2-row malt. This they normally carry but they were out of it at the time. She said it would be in the next day…but I was there now. So instead I went with something they called Pale Malt. I don’t even know if it’s an English Pale Malt or Briess’s Pale Malt.
On the ride home, I started thinking about this more. Why don’t they put the origin of the malts on the bulk grain bins? They have bins labelled Pilsner, 6-row, 2-row, Wheat, and Pale Malt but what does that mean? I know I could have asked but they are super busy with Grape season and no one was coming out from behind the counter as I scratched my head in front of the bins. (I should mention the bins are right in front of the counter where no one was spurred to help me. I know I should have asked!)
I did actually get someone’s attention and asked about the “2-row” situation. When I said I would just sub the other malts for my needs, I asked if they had any pre-bagged 5lb lots left. She said “No, but there is plenty of 1lb-ers available.”
I said I was looking for 16 lbs of 2-row, again she said there’s plenty of 1lb bags if you want. When I asked if there was a price difference she said, “Well the self service stuff is cheapest of the 1lb, 5lb, bulk options.” Congrats on trying to up sell me to the bags at $0.30 more per pound or whatever it is.
At least they had all the hops I wanted, but they were out of WLP002 and like the 2-row I won’t hold it against them – I just went for WLP005 (same flavor a little more attenuative). I picked up some tubing and caps as well.
All said I spent just over $98.00 (I got ingredients for a wheat beer as well, so two beers total).
So here is the local part: I know I can get all the ingredients I want the first time if I ordered online at one of the big online guys. Then factor in my drive time and gas money…shipping is actually cheaper. Not to mention my local has prices about 10% higher then anywhere else. Depending on where I order from, shipping might even be free! Oh well. The local shop is nice to have mainly in the summer when shipping yeast across the country isn’t a good idea but for the most part doesn’t this global-internet economy make any shop my local shop???
Stay tuned for an Oatmeal Stout Brew log and a Wheat beer brew log from me… and maybe a few online orders as well.