Wilmington Homebrew Supply
4405-A Wrightsville Avenue
Beer and wine tastings,
every Fri, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Brewing demonstrations, every Sat. 1:30 p.m.
To outsiders, American beer seems to be defined by three companies: Coors, Budweiser and Miller. Even for a lot of Americans, the big three define their preference for beer. Yet, a recent trend in numbers show that Americans are craving alternatives to their usual brands, and paying attention to the smaller microbreweries which now flourish across the U.S.
The craft-brewing industry—made up of independent brewers who specialize in uniquely flavored beer—has exploded around the country over the past few years. With the rise of artisanal microbreweries comes the return of a trend so traditional, it dates back to the earliest era of human civilization. This “trend” is called homebrewing.
Homebrewing has played such a huge part in invigorating the booming craft-brewing industry, it’s even generated an industry of its own. Brewing supply shops have begun popping up all over the U.S., ready to equip their communities with everything they need to create all types of beer from the comfort of their own homes. The homebrewing explosion has been called a revival of America’s roots, as many founding fathers personally brewed ales on their farms (even President Obama and his wife have joined the craze; the first couple brews their own honey ale at the White House).
Some beer enthusiasts have become so adept at their craft, they turn their hobby into a business. Such is the case for John Savard and Michelle Peck, beer aficionados and owners of Wilmington Homebrew Supply. To put it simply, Wilmington Homebrew Supply (on the corner of Wrightsville and Kerr avenues, next to Double Happiness) provides the tools, ingredients and skill sets to turn any beer buff into a genuine brewmaster. Their mission is to provide the Wilmington area homebrewing community with the highest quality and freshest ingredients. They sell beer-making kits, brewing equipment and raw ingredients like grain, yeast and bitters, as well as various flavorings, such as apricot and raspberry. For newcomers to the craft, Wilmington Homebrew holds free-grain brewing demonstrations which cover the entire procedure. They also sell a modest yet varied selection of hand-selected beer and wine to the store’s thirsty clientele, which also serves inspiration for what type of beer they’d like to create.
“With our live demonstrations, we go step-by-step through the process [of brewing],” Savard says. “We encourage people to try it out at home with a small batch, [so] they can see what they like.”
Wilmington natives Savard and Peck first became immersed in the artistry of craft beer while they attended the University of North Carolina Asheville. This isn’t a surprise, as Examiner.com recently bestowed Asheville with the title of “Beer City U.S.A.,” beating out its rivals—primarily Portland, Seattle and San Diego—due to its major success of local microbreweries. Savard also worked at Asheville’s Craggie Brewing Company and calls his time at the experimental microbrewery “a huge learning experience.”
After graduation, the couple spent time exploring and touring some of the world’s most renowned breweries throughout Europe. Inspired by their travels and seeing how the tides were turning for American beer, Savard and Peck eventually returned home to Wilmington intent as ever to open up their dream store.
“After coming back to Wilmington, [we saw] a niche and a need for homebrewing,” Savard says. “The U.S. is becoming more beer-centered, but we used to be a joke in the industry. Other countries thought of American breweries only as the big three: Miller, Coors and Budweiser. Now, the U.S. has become the front-runner for exciting and forward-thinking beers in the industry.”
There’s a unique spirit to Wilmington Homebrew Supply, which evokes the DIY mentality missing in a lot of American pastimes, and it’s combined with communal support of an affable neighborhood store. According to Savard, being a successful brewer is very simple with the right ingredients and proper guidance. He prides himself with providing each customer with the best knowledge, ingredients and techniques toward their homebrew.
“This is a really exciting time for the beer industry,” Savard says. “And an especially exciting time in Wilmington—I feel like it’s evolving here little by little and on the bubble for something big.”
Homebrew demonstrations are held at the shop every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. for free, and beer and wine tastings can be enjoyed every Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.