Author Topic: State of home-brewing  (Read 2549 times)

House of Barley

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State of home-brewing
« on: May 23, 2015, 11:30:30 AM »
Our LHBS owner came by our club meeting this month and talked to us about how his shop is down 60% from where it was last year.  He seemed to suggest that this is a hobby-wide trend and not just affecting his shop, but I have my doubts as he always seems to be out of common items like base malt and liquid yeast.  I'm curious if he is right about the health of the hobby, or whether he has just isn't a financially sound business owner.  Moreover, could he be both right and wrong and the drop in business is only a problem with brick and mortar stores as internet competition grows?

Offline heavydeadlifts

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2015, 12:21:19 PM »
All I know is the homebrew scene is booming in Richmond, VA...seems as if new stores are popping up everywhere

As with all businesses...if you don't adapt to the demands of modern technology you will fall hard

I can put together my own all grain recipe at a store 2 states over from me and have them put it together, mill it and ship it to my door in 2 days with flat rate shipping....I will tell you I very rarely make the 30 min trip to the homebrew store closest to me anymore....saves me time and money spent in gas
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2015, 12:35:20 PM »
As with any business, he needs to keep up with the times to keep afloat.  Survival of the fittest.  The shop in my town is booming with increase in sales of some astronomical value like 50% or something like that (I forget the exact number).  He's here for good or so it seems.  And it's a small town of population only like 30,000.  In the past couple of years he has basically doubled or maybe even tripled his malt and hop selection, so now I can run there for things instead of always having to order everything online.
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Offline duboman

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2015, 01:12:01 PM »
Sounds like he's failing to attract new people and retain existing. Poor inventory control will kill any business. My LHBS is a 20 minute drive and I have no problem with the round trip because its a great store, always has everything I need.

The store is always busy, serves samples, offers classes and holds events for new brewers and seasoned veterans, offers club and AHA discounts and has very friendly, knowledgeable staff. If you want to see the locals survive you have to shoo local and provide support!
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2015, 01:20:06 PM »
As with any business, he needs to keep up with the times to keep afloat.  Survival of the fittest.  The shop in my town is booming with increase in sales of some astronomical value like 50% or something like that (I forget the exact number).  He's here for good or so it seems.  And it's a small town of population only like 30,000.  In the past couple of years he has basically doubled or maybe even tripled his malt and hop selection, so now I can run there for things instead of always having to order everything online.

Same here. My LHBS is noticeably busier than it was a year ago, and they even expanded to a second location. I'm a big believer in supporting your LHBS but ,with all the quality online options , it's on the LHBS owner to keep stocked on staple items, not sell room temp hops, etc.
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Offline mchrispen

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2015, 01:57:35 PM »
We have a new (1 year old) small LHBS in South Austin and another opening south of town around San Marcos soon. I don't see things slowing down at all. Really proud of the guys at SoCo, focusing on local sales and not trying to take on internet sales. It is allowing them to focus on a new growing brewing community - even new homebrew clubs are starting up. They are seeing tremendous growth, selling 3X the malts they did just after opening. The best thing is that they know homebrewing and are giving really good advice, not just throwing products after problems.

I do wonder what happens when the bubble bursts, but hope this is a sustainable trend. Homebrewing is such a wonderful primer for exploring the culinary world resulting in better gardeners, cooks, etc. with a much stronger tie to quality food and agriculture. That can only be a good thing.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2015, 02:15:50 PM »
From my post on the AHA Governing Committee, I get to see the information on activity in the homebrewing trade. While growth has slowed according to that data, business and therefore participation has continued to grow. We haven't seen a decline in sales at homebrew shops, as an aggregate.

I'm hoping that your LHBS is actively reviewing their retailing operations and assessing what they could be doing differently to cultivate and grow their local customer base. Loosing a LHBS can be an injury to the local homebrewing community, but if there is real demand that can be an opportunity for another entrepreneur that knows how to bring customers back and develop new ones.
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S. cerevisiae

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2015, 02:16:28 PM »
Home brewing is a cyclical hobby.  Most people can run a home brewing supply store during one of the boom times, but most will fold during the lull periods and/or downturns in the hobby.  I have seen a lot of home brewing stores come and go since the early nineties.   It takes solid business skills to manage a home brewing supply store during the lulls and downturns.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2015, 01:24:10 AM by S. cerevisiae »

Offline Chris S

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2015, 02:19:53 PM »
Shout out here to The Homebrewer in San Diego's North Park neighborhood. Always busy, excellent variety of the essentials, comprehensive equipment selection. Best of all: they're cool. Like, they take the time to advise or just shoot the breeze (sometimes in the same conversation). I really appreciate the social element of the shop, something that may not exist in the online experience. Did I mention that they just opened a tasting room, too?

Offline majorvices

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2015, 02:21:12 PM »
Homebrewing seems to me to be booming right now and it seems to be bigger now than ever and I think the AHA has numbers to back this up. It may be that the online stores are taking away much of his business, especially if he doesn't keep his shelves stocked or open on hours that are not convenient. I'd rather order online and spend the extra money for delivery than have to make a special trip to a store that may not even have what I'm looking for.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2015, 02:57:09 PM »
As Martin Stated above, we have seen the figures from surveys of HB shops. As a whole, sales are not down. There is not double digit growth from year to year right now, it is single digit. More shops have opened, so did a new one open in your area? That would take some sales away too.

One other thing that has come out is that all grain brewing is on the upswing. This is probably due to the cheap and easy technique of brew in a bag becoming popular. If your local guy depends on extract sales, that may be another reason.

Homebre wing is always very popular and grows in a poor economy. As things have recovered, maybe that explains the slowing to single digit growth. There are also breweries opening like crazy. If you can get good beer at the brewery just down the street, why Homebrew? As homebrewers go pro, most stop brewing at home, and there is another way the numbers go down.

I would say going down 60% in one year makes that place an outlier. One would hope it is not the canary in the Coal Mine.

Edit - Gary Glass gave some figures on this in his Zymurgy column, I think 2 issues ago.
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Offline phunhog

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2015, 04:33:08 AM »
I have been wondering for a while if maybe the popularity of homebrewing is beginning to fade a bit.  I only say this because it seems like many of the popular homebrewing forums are not nearly as busy as they were 3-4 years ago.  It would seem that if there are more homebrewers the forums would be busier than ever with various questions/issues. Not really seeing it.....

Offline swampale

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2015, 11:45:38 AM »
It has been booming in Canada for a few years now. Took a long time for people to realize there is more out there besides Coors Light. There are a few stores around Toronto and certainly room for more considering the size of the city. The few hbs's that are there carry a huge stock of just about everything you could imagine in a good homebrew store. I haven't heard anything up here about slow sales, just the opposite.

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2015, 12:06:09 PM »
I have been wondering for a while if maybe the popularity of homebrewing is beginning to fade a bit.  I only say this because it seems like many of the popular homebrewing forums are not nearly as busy as they were 3-4 years ago.  It would seem that if there are more homebrewers the forums would be busier than ever with various questions/issues. Not really seeing it.....

In some respects, I think you may be right, and I have a theory forming about this:

Millennials + texting + Facebook = no time to do anything useful or productive.  This includes varied things such as participation in forums, reading books, having a job, etc.  Who knows... once they hunker down and get married and get bored, maybe they'll begin to have more time to learn about the joys of beer and homebrewing.

If business is booming, it's the rest of us doing that, not the Millennials.  So, there's different facets going on in parallel.
Dave

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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: State of home-brewing
« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2015, 12:22:45 PM »
I dont know any numbers, but it sure seems like the invested spending level of an advanced home brewer (equipment-wise) would tend to be much higher these days than it would have been fifty years ago. For example, I doubt too many people had the Tower of Power or Picobrews in 1965...