Before terms like “craft beer” or “microbrew” existed, people looking for fresh, flavorful beer had to make it themselves. As the hobby became more widely practiced, it created an industry to serve the needs of home brewers seeking ingredients and equipment. Some states were slower than others to re-legalize home brewing after Prohibition — Alabama and Mississippi finally did so this year — but the American Homebrew Association (AHA) estimates that almost one million American brew beer or make wine in their homes. The AHA has over 37,000 members (including myself) and also estimates that at least 90 percent of professional brewers in the United States got their start as home brewers.
There are more than a dozen home brew clubs in the state and five home brew shops to serve them and the many individuals who brew outside of a club. In New Orleans, home brewers and professional brewers-to-be go to Brewstock on Dryades and Peniston to get their grain, hops, yeast, sanitizer, equipment, and advice. Aaron Hyde and his wife opened the store almost five years ago, and saw demand grow every year. “Brewstock had been growing and expanding since it opened.” Hyde said. “My wife and I had been debating keeping the store smaller, keeping it less to manage, or growing it into something larger.”
Kyle DuPont, who had worked for Hyde for two years at this point, had come to him asking for advice about opening a homebrew shop of his own in a different market. “I wondered if it wouldn't be a good time to see if he'd be interested in it. He was, and we both came to an agreement.” In June of this year, ownership transitioned to Kyle and his brother Paul, who moved to New Orleans from Chicago to help his brother realize his dream.
The DuPont brothers haven’t changed much for the time being. “We’re not looking to throw anyone a curveball,” says Paul. They plan to begin brewing classes in the fall and have been collaborating with local organizations like The Green Project, where they held a brewing demonstration this past weekend. They are also in preliminary talks to expand by moving to a larger space in the building being renovated by the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, 15 blocks downtown from their current location. For now, you can find them in the shop at 3800 Dryades Street (at Peniston), seven days a week, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (on Sunday they close at 2:00 p.m.) The phone number is (504) 208-2788 and the website is http://www.brewstock.com.
And what about Aaron Hyde? His long term plans to sell the shop happened about a year earlier than he had originally anticipated, due to Kyle’s immediate interest as a buyer. But he’s been busy, traveling to the United Kingdom to gain a greater understanding of malted barley, and will be starting next month as the Arabella Station Whole Foods beer and wine buyer while he ponders other opportunities such as partnering with manufacturers to open a brewery and winery distribution center here in New Orleans, selling equipment and supplies to regional breweries and wineries. He’s also been talking with local breweries about launching a contract beer label. Wherever he lands, Hyde will certainly be carrying forward the passion to bring great beer to New Orleans that drove him to open up and pass along a very successful home brew supply business.
Want to get involved? Check out these Louisiana resources for home brewers:
Home brew stores:
3800 Dryades St., New Orleans; (504) 208-2788
3956 Fire Tower Rd., Grand Cane, LA 71032-6212; (318) 858-2219
855 Pierremont Rd., Ste 124, Shreveport, 71106-2040; (318) 671-4141
Main Grain Home Brew Supplies
70271 Highway 59 Ste C, Abita Springs, 70420-3172; (985) 875-1253
Marcello’s Wine Market
2800 Johnston St., Lafayette, 70503-3244; (337) 264-9520
Home brew clubs:
Bayou Beer Society
Phone: (985) 438-0169
Bicycle Brew Club
Phone: (225) 802-1599
Brasseurs a la Maison
Crescent City Homebrewers
Phone: (504) 915-3227
Dead Yeast Society
Phone: (337) 205-2223
Malt Munching Mash Monsters (Mmmm)
Phone: (318) 759-POUR
Phone: (318) 336-0911
Mystic Krewe of Brew
Phone: (985) 630-3524
Phone: (225) 761-8698