The Great Candi Syrup Experiment

If you have made Belgian beers before there is a really good chance you have heard or seen candi sugar and candi syrup along the way. These two are forms of the same fermentable sugar and are widely used by commercial and home brewers alike. There are a few things we should chat about before I get into the process of making this stuff, so here is the rub:

 

The biggest question I get about candi sugar at the shop is, “Is it different than regular table sugar?” The second most asked question, “Does it really matter? I heard Belgians don’t even use the stuff.” The answer to both of these questions is a resounding YES. If you want to know a ton more about the use of candi sugar, you can read “Brew Like a Monk.” In essence, candi sugar tastes different because of the processing it goes through. Candi syrup/sugar use additives that are not required to be added to their ingredients labels, therefore, they can call it 100% sugar. Belgian brewers have largely replaced clear candi sugar and syrup in their golden ales and tripels with sucrose, beet sugar, dextrose and other types of white processed sugar. I still like to use clear candi syrup in my Belgian ales, and that is because I prefer the slightly tart flavor produced from the citrus-like flavors of the acids used to process the stuff. In darker Belgian beers, it is quite normal for breweries to use darker, caramelized candi syrups in large quantities. Many breweries in Belgium do not use large amounts of caramel or roasted malts and the resulting sugar is where a large portion of the color for their darker beers comes from.

 

Now that we have cleared that up, we can talk about a basic candi syrup recipe, how to turn it into candi sugar rocks, and what a great recipe would be.

I started my candi sugar experiment with nothing but what I already had in my brewing closet and my kitchen cupboards. As a rule, the Maillard reaction (non enzymatic browning), does not occur at low temps in plain sugar when the sugar is heated with water by itself-it instead turns into plain caramel. So, that is where the other ingredients come into play.

 

Things you will need:

  • Diammonium phosphate (Yeast Nutrient)
  • Citric Acid (I used orange juice, but you can use any type)
  • 1 lb Table Sugar (I prefer Beet Sugar)
  • 2 qts of Water
  • (optional preservative)

 

Process:

  1. Combine 1lb sugar and 3 cups of water in a sauce pan and begin to heat.
  2. As it heats up, add the citric acid (I used the juice from one orange) and a ½ tsp of yeast nutrient and bring slowly to the point where the sugar is lightly bubbling over medium heat.
  3. Now is the part where you watch boiling sugar. Do not go too hot or too cold with your burner- medium heat is good. If you are using a thermometer you want to stay shy of the 300 degree point. That is where the sugar starts to get too hot, get solid, or go south really fast. If you walk away from a brew pot it will boil over; if you leave your sugar it will burn. Same difference.
  4. Now, I let mine go for five or so minutes, but you can decide when is enough, and you can experiment with raising and lowering the temperature until you get your desired color. When you are happy with the color, you will need to add a little water to compensate for the boil off.
  5. Once you are at your desired color you, can stop the process by killing the burner (this is where I add 1 tsp of stabilizer like potassium metabisulfite) .
  6. a. Syrup – Add 1/3 of a cup of water to keep the syrup in a liquid state. If you are making the rock form you will not add the waterb. Rock Candy – Instead of doing 6a, pour the syrup onto a silicone baking sheet and set it in the fridge to cool.
  7. Package it up! If you do not use stabilizer you should try to use the syrup relatively soon and the rock form can be stored in your freezer nearly indefinitely.

 

At O’Connor’s we have a Belgian Dubbel and Tripel Kit for all you extract brewers and we’d take $4 off the recipe if you want to try your own candi sugar! We have recipes for all sorts of Belgian ales for both all-grain and extract brewers and I hope to see a few more folks try out this fun technique in the following month. Let us know about your experiments; we love to share stories here at your favorite local HBS!

 

Nick LaVelle, Home Brew Expert

A Week in Laramie: The Front Street Tavern

During the first week of May, Andrew De Haan took a trip to Laramie, Wyoming to visit his friend Jeremy. What follows is a log of beer and adventure with drinking in Laramie and Denver.

In his essay “The Moon Under Water,” George Orwell lays out ten key features for his ideal London Pub. If you care to read them, you may find them here. While many of his stipulations are outdated, the general point is apparent: the perfect pub is a home, a place that takes its food and beer seriously, that serves as a meeting place, preferring conversation over everything else. Of course, the pub that George Orwell is describing does not exist, but in the spirit of Orwell, I have come up with my own list of criteria for my ideal bar:

  1. The furniture and bar must be of a dark, stained wood, and there’s a brass footrest that runs beneath the bar.
  2. There is large windows in the front so that during the daytime it is only lit by natural light.
  3. There are no televisions and no loud music. You should not have to contend with these things for anyone’s attention.
  4. The decorations are spare, but memorable, with little neon involved.
  5. The bartenders remember you by name.
  6. The food is kept simple, comprised of snacks such as pretzels and nuts, as well as a daily bowl of soup served with a roll.
  7. The beer that’s on tap is delicious and affordable, with no more than ten taps, each being excellent, interesting, and drinkable, with no style duplicated, and with at least two rotating taps. The bottle list consists of rare and/or aged beers, kept for special occasions.
  8. All pints are Imperial and alcohol percentages are always posted.
  9. There is outdoor seating in the form of picnic tables in the warmer months.

While I’ve yet to come across a bar perfect enough to include all of these things, while in Laramie I managed to discover a place I wish I could call my local: The Front Street Tavern.

I walk in on a dusty late afternoon seeking a few pints to quench my thirst. Plus, I heard their happy hour is half-off everything, including cocktails. They’ve just opened up and I’m the only soul in here, so I head up to the bar and order a pint of O’Dell’s Easy Street Wheat, their summer seasonal.

The Easy Street Wheat, served with a lemon slice, is a cloudy American Wheat not unlike Bell’s Oberon. The wheat is apparent, tangy and doughy, with a light body and tingling carbonation. Thirst-quenching, but it is nothing memorable. Before I know it, my glass is empty.

Next I order up a pint of Snake River’s Lager. Snake River is a small brewery out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and their Lager is their flagship beer, made in the style of a Vienna Lager. While I do not know this at the time, Snake River’s Lager has won several medals at GABF, as well as other global competitions. It pours a clear amber with a sweet malt aroma. A sip brings a smile to my face as the beer sits on my tongue—the beer is deep, toasty, with flavors of figs and prunes coming through, yet it is smooth and goes down easy. Nothing cloying or overly chewy, but instead it invites taste after taste. At 4.8% ABV., I could revel in it without it kicking me over. To me, this the quintessential drinking beer, and I am saddened to think I won’t be able to get it at home.

Since it’s still happy hour, I order another pint. O’Dell’s St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale, straw blonde in color, falls somewhere stylistically between an American Pale Ale and IPA. However, if this were even four or five years ago, this would have been an IPA. At 6.5% ABV and 46 IBUs, the ale has a huge, dank, grassy hop aroma. On a drink, a subtle honey-like note comes through, backed up by breadiness and a ton of nectarine-and-pine hop flavor. There is little bitterness on the tongue. I am guessing that this tremendous hop flavor with little bitterness was achieved by adding little-to-no bittering hops, and then overloading on the late additions and dry-hops. The perfect beer to convert those who don’t like “hoppy” beers.

At this point the bar starts to fill with people of all varieties. It’s nearing the end of happy hour, so I order another pint just to round out my time here, as well as by a t-shirt. The bartenders cop me a beer, and I feel right at home. My head is buzzing with romantic ideals (and alcohol too), and the whole world turns rosy. This is a place I could stay for a long time.

A Week in Laramie: Part 2

During the first week of May, Andrew De Haan took a trip to Laramie, Wyoming to visit his friend Jeremy. What follows is a log of beer and adventure with drinking in Laramie and Denve.

The road cuts through the rock on I-80 as the shuttle descends into Laramie. These tarnished silver hills, torn ragged by the highway—I’ve spent the past two hours gawking out the window as the land rose and rippled. There is a point where the edge of hill stops and the view opens up, and there before me is the high plains of Wyoming, stretching flat and barren with little growth over three feet. The town itself is not that large—under 30,000—but it’s got roots. Once solely known as a railroad town, Laramie now has the only university in the state, the University of Wyoming.

I get dropped off by the shuttle at the university where I meet up with Jeremy. We headed to the Library, a local sports bar/brewpub across the street from the University’s library. It’s a bit of a joke around town—Don’t lie to your mom. Tell her you’re at The Library. The place has three parts to it: the family restaurant, the bar, and the liquor store. We’re seated in the bar area, which is a scrappier,s worn-out version of a typical sports bar. It’s got character, and I love it.

Wyoming has odd state liquor laws that forbids grocery stores to sell liquor, wine, or any beer over 3.2% ABW, but they allow places that already hold a liquor license to sell booze-to-go. Strangely enough, the laws do allow drive-thru windows. How odd and fickle liquor laws in our country can be.

At the Library we order a big pizza and a couple pints. I pick the kölsch to start. There used to be a time when I wanted to drink only the biggest and boldest craft beers, my interests only piqued by beers over 7% ABV, but that’s long gone. A true measure of a brewer’s abilities is whether he or she can brew a tasty, low-alcohol and low-IBU beer that remains elegant, delicious, and drinkable. This kölsch hits the spot. Straw-yellow, a crisp hoppy bitterness, with a bready malt profile, but it finishes clean and dry. Right now, it’s exactly what I want to drink while eating this pizza.

Jeremy and I swap stories and catch up for awhile, then a friend of his swings by. More pizza devoured. More beer ordered. I get a pint of their Coffee ESB. With a strong whiff of coffee, this reddish-brown ale does not smell like much else. As I sip, all I can think of is how it tastes like a generic iced-coffee, with little to show for beer-wise. While it is clean and drinkable, it fails to strike a chord.

The night rolls on, and when we get home I’m beat. It’s only 9:30pm MST, but I’ve been up since 6:30am, and that was in Michigan, a world away. I hit the sack and sleep for a good ten hours, waking up, ready for more.

A Week in Laramie: Part 1

During the first week of May, Andrew De Haan took a trip to Laramie, Wyoming to visit a friend of his. What follows is a log of beer and adventure from drinking in Denver and Laramie.

The plane hits the tarmac, shuddering with the sound of rubber coming into contact with the ground, hard and fast, friction made apparent. Standard and uneventful, I’m sure, but it sends my heart reeling every time. When I place my feet in the Denver International Airport, the respite I gain from being on solid ground is quickly overwhelmed by the fact that I’m in an airport—a spidery nebula of anxiety. An airport is never somewhere you want to spend more time than you need to—it’s a thoroughfare, a world between where you were and where you’re going, where night and day have little bearing, where all of human behavior is focused on leaving, or at least getting through security. Fortunately, this airport is equipped with a New Belgium pub and a Boulder Beer Co. pub. I catch a train and hike down the concourse to the New Belgium pub for some vittles.

The New Belgium Hub looks sort of like a cross between a sports bar and a Build-A-Bear Workshop. With televisions flickering on the wall, and a color palette brighter than the future of a National Spelling Bee Champion, it’s a bit of a clash, but I am in no place to complain. It’s 10:30am MST, but it’s well into lunchtime for me. I order a grilled portobello sandwich with fries and a 1554 Black Ale. The waitress asks if I want a 14oz. or a 20oz.—I think the answer is obvious. I sip on my big glass of 1554 while I wait for the food. It’s a deep mahogany color with beige lacing, bready and warm on the palate, with a burst of dried apricot backed up by caramel. It finishes dry, a touch of roast lingering. Not unlike a Märzen, but with a fruitier ale profile complimented by roasted malt. My guess is this ale has a significant percentage of Vienna and/or Munich malt. It is incredibly drinkable, yet at this elevation, I feel it just after one. I try to savor the food and drink, but end up scarfing it down in about 20 minutes.

Determined and wobbly, I walk down the concourse toward my bus-stop. After getting there and realizing that I have more than an hour to burn, an insatiable urge for ice cream overcomes me. I head to the food-court and spot a TCBY a floor below me. Taking the escalator, it is slowly revealed to me that right next to the TCBY is the Boulder Beer Taphouse. Looks like frozen treats are off today’s menu. I make a beeline for the bar.

Boulder Beer has been available in Michigan for some time now, particularly their Hazed and Infused Pale Ale, Mojo IPA, and Mojo Risin’ Double IPA. I’ve enjoyed each of these beers several times, but with looking at their tap list and seeing several names I did not recognize, I decided to try something new. I order a pint of Flashback India Brown Ale. A deep reddish-brown with an off-white head, Flashback smells strong of pine needles and brown sugar. Bitter up front, it dissolves and opens up into a citrusy chocolate mid-palate—reminding me of one of those orange-flavored chocolate balls. The ale finishes with a scraping bitterness, perfectly dry, toasty, and a residue of floral hops on the tongue reminiscent of goldenrod.

After savoring the pint, I meander back to my bus-stop. I board my shuttle, staring west toward the great mountain faces rising into the hazy sky. Majestic and powerful, they captivate and beckon me. I cannot imagine what is to come…

No Boil Berliner Weiss

Hi everyone, it’s Nick! For the last year, Andrew (the newest addition to the shop) and I have been discussing older styles of beers. After doing several sour beers, I finally decided to try my hand at a few techniques that I have researched, and I want to share my results with you.

Recently Ben brewed a German Pale Ale for the shop (on tap now), and at the end of the sparge there was a tiny little bit of sugar still draining off. So, I took the opportunity to try something called a “Sour Mash”. I took the spent grain and mashed in an additional six pounds of grain to get some more sugars out. Once I let it rest I drained the wort off into a sanitized bucket (one of my sour buckets to avoid cross contamination) on top of two ounces of Saaz leaf hops. In the ancient ales of yester-year all malts were kilned over open fire and had a distinct smoke flavor. I wanted to give a nod to that, so instead of pitching yeast I dumped two pounds of smoked malt in to allow the wild bacteria on the grain husks to ferment the wort. Grain husks are covered in Lactobacillus and other wild things. The next day it was cranking away just like any other beer yeast, and in about a week it was finished fermenting! I killed the wild bacteria with a back-end short boil, and after a quick few days in secondary the beer was on tap. It’s more smokey than I would have imagined, but the slight tartness and the light body are perfect for a Berliner Weisse.

The recipe is below! Enjoy!

Step 1: Make a 1.028-1.034 O.G. Mash light in color with at least 30% of the mash being Torrified or White Wheat (in the old world it was smoked wheat)

Mine: (Fresh): 3 lbs Pilsen, 3lbs White Wheat

(Spent): 8lbs Pilsen, 3lbs Organic 2-row, 1 lb Caracrystal

Mash in at 148° F for 6 hours

Step 2: Rack hot onto a pile of Grain and Hops

Mine: 2lbs of Smoked German Malt (Makes the beer more savory, for a more refreshing lemony flavor use basic 2 Row or Pilsen)

2 oz Saaz Leaf Hops

Step 3: Ferment for 1 week or until the Gravity of the wort is 1.010-1.006

Step 4: To help remove protein haze and a achieve a mild bitterness from the hops, rack the fermented wort off of the grain and leafs into a kettle and bring to a boil for 10-15 minutes. Chill this to below 80 and rack into a secondary container. Try to keep from aerating the beer at this point to avoid O2 ruining your batch. Keep in secondary long enough for any more remaining sediment to drop out (about 4 days)

Step 5: Serve! If you are bottling it at this point you should re-pitch yeast and add priming sugar. Be wary! All your equipment touching this beer is a potential contamination risk for your future batches, so please mark your sour equipment accordingly. Traditionally this beer is served with a splash of Mugwort or Raspberry Syrup, but it is great straight too!

Have fun! If you decide to do this feel free to stop in to O’Connor’s and pick my brain about it!

Nick LaVelle – Professional Home Brewer and honest dude.

The Great Belgian Pumpkin Beer

The Great Belgian Pumpkin Beer

Recipe by Mitch, O’Connor’s Home Brew Supply Brew Expert

For the past month we have been helping people put together recipes for their pumpkin beers.  Here is one that I know you will enjoy.  Come on in, and we can get the ingredients together for you!

Brewing Specs

Type: Extract

Batch Size: 5 gallons

Boil Size: 4.01 gallons

Boil Time: 60 minutes

Final Bottling Volume: 5 gallons

Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage

Equipment: 5 gallon brew pot

I typically roast a medium sized pumpkin in the oven for about an hour at 325 degrees. I like to clean it, cut it up into chunks (2in x 2in), and put it into a shallow baking pan. Most people put some water in the bottom so it does not burn, and it helps break the pumpkin down more….but I use apple cider instead for the taste. After the pumpkin is roasted, I throw it all in my pot with brewing water heated to 155 degrees. At this point I also add the steeping grains. I steep this one for an hour, because the water is so dense it needs more time to absorb all the flavors from the grain. After the hour of steeping you can do one of two things: 1. You can dump the brewing water through a strainer to get the big pumpkin chunks out, or 2. You can boil the wort with the pumpkin in there. I have done it both ways, and they both work. I found that I got a little bit more pumpkin flavor by leaving it in, but I do not think it makes that much of a difference. At this point, just continue brewing like normal.

As a side note: Canned pumpkin can be used in place of a fresh pumpkin. Just make sure it is 100% pumpkin. You do not need to roast canned pumpkin either. You also do not need to strain it, as it is usually pureed. It will pretty much dissolve in your kettle.

Prepare for Brewing

Total water needed: 7.21 gallons

Steeping Grains: Steep at 155 degrees for one hour

6 lbs Pumpkin

8 oz Biscuit Malt

8 oz Vienna Malt

8 oz Crystal 60

3 oz Black Patent

Remove grains and prepare to boil wort

Boil Wort

Add water to achieve boil volume of 4.01 gallons

Estimated pre-boil gravity is 1.095 SG

Boil Ingredients

9.5 LBS Golden Light LME

1 oz Northern Brewer hops (60 minutes)

1 0z Hallertauer hops (15 minutes)

2 teaspsons Pumpkin Pie Spice

Estimated Post Boil Volume: 3.64 gallons

Estimated Post Boil Gravity: 1.073

Cool and Prepare Fermentation

Cool wort to fermentation temperature

Transfer wort to fermenter

Add water to achieve final volume of 5 gallons

Fermentation Ingredients

1 package of Belgian Abbey II Wyeast (1762)

Measure actual original gravity (Target: 1.073)

Measure actual batch volume (Target: 5 gallons)

Fermentation

Primary fermentation for 4 days at 67 degrees

Secondary fermentation for 10 days at 67 degress

Prepare for bottling/kegging

Measure final gravity

Age for appropriate amount of time

Enjoy!

Livin La Vida Loca Cream Ale

Ricky Martin enjoying a Livin La Vida Loca Cream Ale


My dad is not a beer drinker. He’s not really a drinker at all, but when he is on vacation he loves to let loose. Rick Martin is one of the most laid back, friendliest people you could ever meet. He has never met a stranger (I apologize to the lovely couple who sat with us at a hibachi table at Fuji Yama). Ben thought it would be great to brew my dad a beer for my parents’ week long vacation in Grand Rapids. “Don’t make it hoppy or dark,” my dad requested. So here is the partial mash recipe Ben followed:

4LBS 6 Row
2 LBS Flaked Corn
2 LBS Flaked Rice
1 oz Saaz hops
Wyeast American Ale 1056
and 2 LBS of Golden Light LME


I picked my parents up at the airport at 9:30am. My dad cracked open his first Livin La Vida Loca Cream Ale at noon, after we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast at Wolfgang’s.

Here is Ricky Martin’s critique of his beer:

Aroma: Sweet, citrusy

Color: dark straw, mountain honey

First thing you taste: citrus, especially lemon

Aftertaste: none, very smooth, can’t taste the alcohol

Perfect time to drink it: warm Summer afternoon-very refreshing

Food pairing: anything off of the grill

Overall: B+, would definitely buy it at the store

All in all, my dad really enjoyed the beer. He also found his new favorite beer, Bell’s Oberon.

Allison O’Connor


Mitten Brew Article

Our Brewing with extract seminar was a big success.  We wanted to give thanks to all those who made it out for the fun!  A special thanks goes out to Rob Kirkbride from mittenbrew.com for putting together a great article about the class.  Check it out at the link below.

MittenBrew

Dog Treats Made From Spent Grains

Really cool article that my buddy Ethan Vandoorne sent me.

Original recipe:
4 cups spent grain
2 cups flour
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Press down into a dense layer on a large cookie sheet. Score almost all the way through into the shapes you want. Bake for about half an hour at 350 F to solidify them. Loosen them from the sheet, break the biscuits apart and return them, loosely spread out on the cookie sheet, to the oven at 225 F for 3 to 4 hours (or until they are really dry) to prevent mold growth. Store in an airtight container to keep them dry and mold-free.

Brewtastical

So You Want to Brew Your Own Beer or Make Your Own Wine……Awesome…….Read This

Beer

When considering to brew your first batch of beer it’s helpful to think about how much time, effort, and money you’re are willing to put into it. First one should do a little bit of research about the brewing process just to get an introduction to the world of suds. There is plenty of literature out there that can give you a good lesson on the age old art of making beer.

Once you are up to speed on the process I would suggest starting with an inexpensive equipment kit, which comes with everything you need to brew a 5 gallon batch. Also you will need a malt extract ingredient kit, which supplies you with all the ingredients, step by step directions, and a beginners handbook to the art of brewing. Each 5 gallon batch produces approximately 50 cold ones. All you will need in addition is a kitchen stove, sink, and a few household utensils. The reason to start with a malt extract ingredient kit is that it allows you to make a good beer while skipping the most difficult step of mashing (extracting fermentable sugar from barley and grain). Malt extract is pre- made and has the correct amount of sugar already in it.

The brewing process then becomes as simple as dissolving the malt extract into hot water and adding some hops. The brewing process only takes a few hours, but the whole entire process from the start to the final step of drinking your beer is about 3 weeks to a month. Believe me it’s well worth it. There is nothing more satisfying than getting to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Try starting with a pale ale, which is relatively easy to make and has a great chance of turning out nice and tasty. It’s important to keep it simple at first to avoid unnecessary discouragement. Don’t be afraid to call us to ask questions.

Those who have a good experience brewing with extract may wish to pursue the hobby a bit more intensely. For those eager brewers, the next step is probably to try a partial mash. This involves extracting sugar from fresh whole barley and grains, while still using extract for the majority of your fermetable sugars. This can be done with the same equipment you used for your extract batch. I would suggest trying this first before jumping into all-grain brewing. Come to us to get help putting together a partial mash recipe.

For the brewing enthusiasts is the process of all-grain home brewing. Its very similar to how the professional breweries and brew pubs do it. There are still varying degrees of intensity when it comes to all-grain brewing, but no matter how serious you are it still is more time consuming and involved that extract brewing. For many it is worth it because the quality and taste of your beer is much better. The first thing that you will need to do when you decide to brew all-grain is build a mashtun. A mashtun is a vessel that can hold grain and water at a desired temperature for a long period of time. This allows you to extract the fermatable sugar that you need to make beer. Home brewing mashtuns are usually made from beverage coolers and can be made for as little as $30. Be sure to do some reading and research before you attempt to build your mashtun. The internet has plenty of information and diagrams that will help. YouTube also can offer a good amount of help with your venture.

Wine

If you happened to be more of a wine drinker then you should try your hand at making a batch . It’s a relatively simple process, much less complicated than brewing beer. The total time from start to finish can be a little longer though. Aging your wine before you drink it will be the longest part, but it is well worth it considering that one standard batch will produce 30 bottles. Most of the same equipment used in brewing beer will be sufficient for making wine. A larger fermenting bucket and carboy are necessary because of the head space needed to ferment wine. Too small of either could end up causing a bubble over, which would ruin your batch. Any other equipment used in the process, such as corks and a corking machine can be purchased at your local home brew supply shop.

When making your first batch you should most definitely start with a wine ingredient kit. It comes with all the ingredients and directions you need including the most integral part of wine, the grape juice. Juice can be made by pressing grapes, but that can be expensive, complicated and much more time consuming. A grape press machine is something to think about buying if you are really serious about the hobby. The process of making wine from a kit can be as simple as pouring grape juice into a bucket, adding some chemical agents, specialty ingredients, and yeast, then letting it ferment into wine. Once finished with the fermenting process its time to bottle and age. Used wine bottles from your private stash can be used to hold your homemade wine and corks and a corker can be purchased O’Connor’s Home Brew Supply rather inexpensively.

Whether you are really busy with your day to day life or you have plenty of free time, home brewing and wine making can be a fun and rewarding hobby. Initial investment in the equipment and ingredients to brew your first batch of beer or make your first batch of wine or cider can be under $100 . Once you have purchased the equipment, from then on out one only needs to pay for the ingredients for your next batch. This will normally be around $20 for beer depending on the style and a bit more expensive for wine. If you are interested if giving home brewing or wine making a try, I would suggest starting with either a malt extract beer ingredient kit or a wine kit.

Happy Brewing,

O’Connor’s Home Brew Supply



The Brew Shop Build Out: What We Do So You Can Brew

Shelving Units

The following article was written by our custom woodworker Matt Sutton. He built our shops point of sale counter, mill table, and shelving units. He did a wonderful job I might add. If you would like to get a hold Matt just look for his contact info at the bottom of the article.

Ben and I had been talking for some time about the home brew shop. Once the location had been determined, we began to plan the actual layout of the shop. It’s an old building with some great historic appeal and character. When we got in though there was much that needed to be done. The space was bare bones and in need of all of the trim and a few new doors. It was not only the shelving and casework, the interior needed to be completely revamped. There were certain considerations that we were contemplating: there needed to be ample room for display and storage, it needed to look great and be functional allowing them to be able to change and grow with the requests of new equipment and supplies. After we settled on the plan, I came in and got to work on the space. After plenty of time and elbow grease we are all happy with the results and we are sure that you will too. Come on in and take a look.
With over 50 linear feet of wall cases that are 8 and a half foot tall and center shelving that is 6 foot tall, all of which is fully adjustable from top to bottom, there are a wide variety of arrangements. You will find ample room for, and easy access to, all of the supplies that you need. One of the most fun aspects of the build was the custom designed and built grain mill. I spent hours looking over other designs but nothing seemed to fit. I visited a few other shops and was not impressed with the setups. I scrapped all of the ideas and started from scratch. After several discussions with Ben about what the functionality of the piece needed to be, I got to work. The mill is awesome and I cant wait for home brewers like you to give it a crank.

I enjoy the collaborative process and it was a pleasure to work with Ben and Allison to bring their dream into the world. If you have a special brew or non brew related project, feel free to contact me to talk it over.

Matt Sutton
Woodworker
matthew.h.sutton@gmail.com
616-634-2700

Who and What We Are

Ben loves beer. I needed to change my career path. That is the short version on why we are opening O’Connor’s Home Brew Supply. When we decided to move to Grand Rapids, we wanted to make sure that we could incorporate as many local aspects as possible and become a community-based shop*. O’Connor’s is a small business, and that is exactly what we think is best for us and our customers. It was never appealing to us to offer a warehouse of endless supplies. Instead, we are embracing the small, local business feel that is desired in Grand Rapids.

We want our shop to serve every level of home brewer in Grand Rapids. One area that we are focusing on are the people who are new to brewing. It can make you rather anxious when you are interested in a new hobby, but you are not sure where to start. You may be concerned about the time it takes, the costs associated with it, and what the outcome will be. Basically, you may be wondering, “Is it worth it?” Our answer is “Yes, it is more than worth it.” We want everyone to be comfortable with coming in and asking questions on how to get started. If you have already been brewing, we want you to come in and explore new recipes or techniques. If we do not have the answer that you are looking for, we can surely get it for you.

As I have watched Ben brew beer over the past several years, I have learned that home brewing is a passion and lifestyle for many people. I feel like it is our job to feed that passion and help in the growth of such a wonderfully satisfying hobby. When you come into our shop you will see some of our passions. Of course, there is beer and wine making supplies. But, we also want our love for history, especially the Prohibition Era, to show through. Americans have always found a way to keep their love for alcohol alive, and I think that home brewing is a way to keep that personal connection to alcohol.

We ask that you stop by and see us. Ben will be there to help you get started or get your ingredients for your next batch. I will be there with my Southern charm that will hopefully make you feel welcome at O’Connor’s Home Brew Supply.

Allison O’Connor

O’Connor’s Home Brew Supply

*All of the shelving and wood work was done by Matt Sutton, a local carpenter.

*Our website and logo were designed by Two Shoes Media, a Grand Rapids business.