Food & dining


‘If you can make oatmeal, you can make beer’

Brooklyn Brew Shop

There are several ways to brew your own beer. Ambitious would-be brewers can make the leap and buy all the equipment, investing in a system designed to brew not just one batch but many. Shops like Modern Homebrew Emporium in Cambridge are happy to help.

If brewing seems like more of an experience than a lifestyle, it might make sense to make your beer at a brew-on-premise site. Barleycorn’s Craft Brew in Natick and Hopsters in Newton both do the heavy lifting, inviting you to select a style and brew under the supervision of a professional. The beer stays on site, and you come back two weeks later to bottle it, label it, and take it home.

The two different options lead to a common result: a lot of beer, usually a case or two, of whatever style you chose to make. If you bought your own brewing equipment, there’s also the question of where to put it. A five-gallon fermenter takes up a lot of room in a studio apartment.


A take-home brewing kit from the online Brooklyn Brew Shop tries to address both problems. For $40, would-be brewers get everything they need minus a pot, a strainer, and a stovetop. The equipment comes in a box smaller than something that might hold a toaster. Complete the brewing process and you get a gallon of beer, enough to fill about 10 bottles (which you purchase separately).

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Founders Erica Shea and Stephen Valand designed the kits for apartments. “When we started, there wasn’t a single place in New York to buy beer-making supplies,” says Shea. “And from our first large-scale batch we realized why: It was messy, heavy, and not conducive at all to small kitchens.”

Each kit comes with a recipe for a specific beer, the latest of which is for Punk IPA, from the Scottish brewery BrewDog. The same hops used by the professional brewers are tucked into the box in vacuum-sealed packages.

In addition to written instructions, there’s a two-minute video on Brooklyn Brew Shop’s website explaining the brewing process. The advice is the same, whether brewing on a large or small scale: Follow the recipe exactly, and keep it clean. “We always say, ‘If you can make oatmeal, you can make beer,’ ” says Valand. “None of the steps are hard. We get a lot of pictures and e-mails from people’s first batches wondering if everything is OK. Even if you are a few minutes or a few degrees off, you very likely still end up with a very delicious, drinkable beer.” Barleycorn’s Craft Brew, Natick, 508-651-8885,; Brooklyn Brew Shop,; Brooklyn Brew kits available at American Provisions, South Boston, 617-269-6100; Hopsters, Newton Corner, 617-916-0752,; Modern Homebrew Emporium, 617-498-0400,

Gary Dzen can be reached at