Any homebrewer can tell you that brewing is an undertaking. It involves hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars of equipment depending on how fancy you want to get. You have to have a place to store the equipment, and if you have a smaller space, it can be tricky to fit everything. And you have to start somewhere. Many of us fumbled in our kitchens, making mistakes, ruining batches—and our kitchens—due to inexperience. Not to say that any of this is unexpected or wholly bad, but some prospective brewers might see them as roadblocks to brewing. That’s where brew-on-premise businesses come in.
Brew-on-premise (BOP) businesses are homebrew laboratories where people can sign up to brew a batch of beer, but without having to deal with the issues mentioned above. They’re all over the United States, and chances are, you have one within driving distance. The best way to find a site near you is to hit up Google (search: brew on premise near me). Here are some reasons why you might consider going this route.
Not enough space
Every morning my Google alerts show Craigslist ads for people who no longer have room to store their brewing equipment. If you’re brewing from a small kit, you’re probably going to be all right. If you’re doing all-grain and have burners, barrels, and beer to store…you’re probably short on room.
Brew-on-premise locations provide all the equipment you’ll need, including brew equipment, bottles, labels, and ingredients. They ferment the beer onsite, bottle it, and some will even let you store your cases of beer there. The only space you’ll have to take up is for the beer you take home (and your spot on the couch where you’re enjoying said beer).
Not enough money
As I mentioned above, making beer is an investment. Over the past several years of brewing, I’ve upgraded a part here, a thermometer there, and recently my husband built a three-tier gravity brew system from scratch. We don’t have anything too fancy, but even then we’ve easily dropped a few grand. That’s quite a commitment.
You might love brewing, or you might just want to try it out, but maybe you don’t want to make an initial investment in something you’re not even sure you’re going to like. Getting to test drive the BOP’s equipment will help you decide what to buy, and you can not only use it, but ask the brewmaster questions about each piece. Or you might decide you would much rather work with the BOP’s more state-of-the-art equipment. Nothing but the best for you!
Not enough knowledge
Remember the fumbling I mentioned earlier? Unless you have friends who are super knowledgeable and can hold your hand along the way, I promise there will be fumbling. Because learning the hard way is the only way, right?
Not so much when you go with a BOP facility. They have brew experts onsite to walk you through each step, and depending on your level of experience, they can handhold or sit back and let you take the wheel. They’re there in case a disaster arises, to answer questions, and to make sure you’re comfortable.
Not enough sense of adventure
Homebrewing requires a great sense of adventure. You never know what’s going to happen between brew day and the moment you crack open that first bottle of brew. Your beer could be awesome. It could be awful. If you’re cool with waiting for The Big Reveal, reality-show style, that’s great. Some of us are far more methodical and want to know exactly what we’re getting into.
Quite a few BOPs will allow you to taste the beer before you brew it. This lets you determine whether it’s the right recipe for you, and if not, no harm, no foul. And at least you’re not stuck with 5–10 gallons of beer to do…something with.
Not enough nice weather
The weather might be something that even seasoned homebrewers who own all the right equipment will want to consider. Bad weather makes for a bad brew day—not only because bad weather can really hamper your efforts if you’re brewing in a garage or the backyard, either. I remember the time we were determined to brew when it was -20°F outside and the garden hose feeding the wort chiller froze, and the hot water coming out of the chiller burst through the budget-friendly tubing we bought. Disaster doesn’t even begin to describe that day.
But also consider how much fun it is to be standing in your front yard while it’s snowing, picking grains out of your mash tun with bare hands, while the water coming out of it is seeping into your shoes. Look, I love hypothermia as much as the next person, but is this really how you want to spend your brew day? Getting to brew in a temperature-controlled facility—indoors—is a great way to not have to miss out on your hobby throughout the year.
While brewing at home is likely the most convenient choice for most of us, having the option to brew on premise somewhere is a great way to keep brewing when other obstacles exist. We’d love to hear more about your favorite places to brew!
PHOTO COURTESY OF CASK & KETTLE HOMEBREW, BOONTON TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY