The home-brew supply store Brewstock (3800 Dryades St., 208-2788; www.brewstock.com) looks like part hardware store and part apothecary. From floor to ceiling, shelves are stocked with all the equipment and raw materials needed to brew beer and make specialty foods at home. Wisconsin native Aaron Hyde first opened Brewstock on Oak Street in 2009 and moved to its current address in Uptown's Milan neighborhood a year later. Brewstock provides supplies to make a wide array of foods and drinks, from fruit wines to cheese, charcuterie and cocktail tinctures. The shop offers classes and maintains an online forum for enthusiasts to share ideas.
Is there a seasonal flow to the projects your customers pursue?
Hyde: Definitely. A lot of people brew beer outdoors, so fall is when they start that up. But summer is when all this fruit is coming in — blueberries, blackberries and all of this muscadine just growing wild in some places — so people are making wine. The amount of fruit down here is unbelievable. Once you start brewing, all you see is wine hanging from trees. When you realize you have 200 lemons and you won't eat them all, you start thinking, let's make some wine from it.
Is brewing beer a gateway to more make-it-yourself hobbies?
H: People get into one thing and then they have the equipment and they think, well, what else can I make? They start with (making) beer or wine, and then they see the green coffee beans on the shelf here, and even if they've never thought about roasting their own beans before now they want to. It's the same way with making your own cheese, that's a logical next step. It's a back-to-the-kitchen thing. People see all this stuff in restaurants now too, and the restaurants are saying, "We make this by hand, we make this here," so people start thinking maybe I can do this too.
What's the biggest kick you get from brewing?
H: It's one of the most rewarding hobbies because you get to share it. It's really cool to say, "I brewed this beer," and then have your friends be able to enjoy it with you. That's a lot easier than trying to get someone excited about that duck decoy you carved. — IAN MCNULTY