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Author Topic: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores  (Read 1975 times)

Offline waltsmalt

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Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« on: August 02, 2023, 11:31:36 am »
I just received an email that both (which are owned by the same parent I believe) are closing their brick-and-morter stores and moving to exclusively online.  For someone who has shopped at both as my LHBS, this is pretty disappointing.  It's unfortunate that the economics don't support the store anymore, as I really liked having yeast readily available and buying sacks of base malts and specialty grains. 

I know many of you out there do not have a LHBS that is easily accessible, so I'd appreciate a few tips as to the most efficient way to navigate all of this.

Definitely a first world problem, but not ideal either.

Offline erockrph

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Re: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2023, 12:06:00 pm »
Shop sales and stock up when you can

If full sacks of grain don't qualify for free shipping, sometimes multiple 5 and 10 pound bags still do

Use dry yeast when you can

Buy hops and grain in bulk

Keep a running list of things you need so you can place everything in one big order
Eric B.

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Offline Bob357

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Re: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2023, 12:27:01 pm »
After looking at Northern Brewer pricing online, the first thing I'd be doing is looking for another supplier. You might want to check out MoreBeer. They have a warehouse in PA, only have a $59 threshold for free shipping and better pricing. They also offer discounts on base malts when you buy six 5 lb. bags.
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Offline btcruiser

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Re: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2023, 04:20:23 pm »
It is a sad day for sure. Nothing like having a brick-and-mortar store to purchase things like grain, liquid yeast, and CO2. Just means I will have to put a lot more thought into getting supplies and ordering when the weather is moderate. Oh, well, what can you do.

Offline chinaski

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Re: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2023, 04:25:29 pm »
For someone who has shopped at both as my LHBS, this is pretty disappointing.  It's unfortunate that the economics don't support the store anymore, as I really liked having yeast readily available and buying sacks of base malts and specialty grains. 
Every business has to decide what to take some losses on and what not to.  It's a bummer that they don't want to have in-person experiences for their local customers anymore.  Hopefully there are some other stores around to offer that.  I'll continue to support my local LBHS as I have- it's a great thing to be able to stop and grab what you need.

Online BrewBama

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Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2023, 04:56:25 pm »
Just from the outside looking in: it seems like this brand has been struggling for more than a decade. Frankly, it’s been a drama $#!+ show to watch IMO.

They got rid of the Brewing TV that introduced us to numerous homebrewer personalities that taught people how to brew (Jake Keeler, Micheal Dawson, Chip Walton, Don Osborn, Bryon Adams, and others. BTW: Their best interview was with Fred Eckhardt IMO.), then they sold to AB InBev, then bought it from them, now closing brick and mortars. I believe they’ve lost their way.

It isn’t surprising when a company shoots themselves in the foot once. What is surprising is when they empty the clip, rapid reload, and keep firing.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2023, 05:28:35 pm by BrewBama »

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2023, 07:51:21 am »
A VC company bought them from ABInbev. Then that company bought Adventures in Homebrewing when the owners decided to retire. AiH owned Austin Homebrew Supply and that was part of the sale.

The AiH and Austin HS became online only with no storefronts. The VC company had before and after data. It could be that the storefront isn't profitable or as profitable as online, and drags the numbers down?
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Offline BrewnWKopperKat

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Re: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2023, 08:41:17 am »
They got rid of the Brewing TV that introduced us to numerous homebrewer personalities that taught people how to brew (Jake Keeler, Micheal Dawson, Chip Walton, Don Osborn, Bryon Adams, and others. BTW: Their best interview was with Fred Eckhardt IMO.)
Maybe the lesson is "follow people (content producers) not businesses (content curators)". 

on following people: I picked two names and quickly found that 1) The Chop & Brew web site is active and 2) the book "Mash Maker" was published in 2022.   So while "Brewing TV" isn't where they talk about home brewing, they still talk about home brewing.

For curators and content providers: if you're going put content behind a pay wall, recognize that it's value probably declines to 'historical interest' in about 3 to 5 years.  Need evidence?  Consider web searching the ideas in "How Cold Steeping Malt Can Elevate Your Beer " (HomeBrewCon 2016) across the various content on the interwebs.  It could be, that in 2023, the starting point for "cold extraction" for most home brewers is UltraLowBrewing dot com (or a similar site I haven' found).




 
« Last Edit: August 06, 2023, 08:43:39 am by BrewnWKopperKat »

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2023, 09:43:36 am »
Don O has a podcast that regularly includes  Chip Walton and Michael Dawson.  I think Jake Keeler was an AHA Governing Board member for a while, but may have moved on from the hobby.  He was an artist and fished - combining those in his endeavors. I definitely miss the old shows they put out - very fun.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2023, 05:50:26 pm »
Don O has a podcast that regularly includes  Chip Walton and Michael Dawson.  I think Jake Keeler was an AHA Governing Board member for a while, but may have moved on from the hobby.  He was an artist and fished - combining those in his endeavors. I definitely miss the old shows they put out - very fun.

After the AHA GC, Jake was with Rahr Malts/BSG. Not sure what he is doing today.
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Offline braufessor

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Re: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2023, 08:50:17 am »
I started using Northern Brewer back in the 90's.  They were my "go to" for over 20 years.  That said, they have gone downhill over the last several years.  In particular, over the last year or two, their shipping was just terrible.  I used to order something and literally have it delivered on my doorstep 1-2 days later.  Recently, I was getting e-mails a week later saying they were just getting to my order.  Sad to say, I quit ordering from them altogether this past year.  Mail order goes to MoreBeer usually now.  Cheaper, faster, more dependable.  I also have always liked Labelpeelers as well.  I have not used them in a while, but Farmhouse Brewing Supply is one I have used as well.
Not sure about all the things that went wrong at NB..... but the purchase by AB seems to be about the beginning of the slide, and in my experience, that really picked up over the last 2-3 years.

Offline Megary

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Re: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2023, 11:01:05 am »
I started using Northern Brewer back in the 90's.  They were my "go to" for over 20 years.  That said, they have gone downhill over the last several years.  In particular, over the last year or two, their shipping was just terrible.  I used to order something and literally have it delivered on my doorstep 1-2 days later.  Recently, I was getting e-mails a week later saying they were just getting to my order.  Sad to say, I quit ordering from them altogether this past year.  Mail order goes to MoreBeer usually now.  Cheaper, faster, more dependable.  I also have always liked Labelpeelers as well.  I have not used them in a while, but Farmhouse Brewing Supply is one I have used as well.
Not sure about all the things that went wrong at NB..... but the purchase by AB seems to be about the beginning of the slide, and in my experience, that really picked up over the last 2-3 years.

Interesting.  The reason you left NB and went to MoreBeer (faster turnaround) is the exact reason I left MoreBeer and went to Keystone Homebrew.   ;D  Maybe MoreBeer has cleaned up their order processing recently, but a few years ago they would sit on my order for days before I would get notice that it finally shipped.

Offline Richard

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Re: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2023, 05:45:05 pm »
MoreBeer has very fast processing and shipping. I live near one of their retail stores and went there last week to purchase some ingredients. They didn't have one of the dried yeasts that I wanted so I asked them to order it for me. Usually when I have them order things from the warehouse it comes the next Friday, which is when the store gets its delivery. That is what I was expecting, but the next day it arrived at my home via FedEx! I had that happen once before, with a 55# sack of grain that they shipped to my home for free.
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Offline waltsmalt

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Re: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2023, 06:36:57 am »
I guess my plan will be to shift to the following (or continue what I was already doing):
1) Ordering hops by the pound from Yakima Valley, Yakima Chief or Hops Direct (had good luck with all three)
2) Only using liquid yeast when absolutely necessary, and possible start harvesting use for re-use
3) Look to find a local supplier of base malts (I wonder if it will be possible to pick up sacks of malt at their warehouse in Roseville, MN)
4) Plan beers that use similar specialty grains, which could be a good thing as it might lead me to a more narrow focus of styles

What else has worked well for others?

Offline BrewnWKopperKat

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Re: Northern Brewer & Midwest Supplies Closing Retail Stores
« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2023, 07:11:09 am »
3) Look to find a local supplier of base malts (I wonder if it will be possible to pick up sacks of malt at their warehouse in Roseville, MN)
Over the next year, the local clubs (MHBA, NBA, SPHBC) should be a good source of information regarding possible local pick-up and/or group buys. 

Quote
What else has worked well for others?
malts: a combination of RiteBrew + Farmhouse Brewing Supply (FBS) covers the majority of the malts that Midwest Supplies stocked.  FBS currently has a wide selection of Great Western and Weyermann malts.  I've ordered from both within the last six months.

Muntons dry malt extracts: Home Brew Ohio stocks it. I haven't ordered from them (yet).

Hops & yeast: RiteBrew & FBS have been good suppliers.  For a small number of sachets of yeast, RiteBrew recently had a U.S. Mail option.  I've read that Label Peelers will also ship small amounts U.S. Mail (I haven't ordered from them).