Fairview Homebrew

By on 28 February, 2012 in Fun, Kate and Stephen, Shopping with 1 Comment

When a new shop opens up in the neighborhood, it’s natural to pop by and see what’s available. In the case of Fairview Homebrew, one of the very best things you can get is an introductory conversation with proprietor Lee Harrison. Even a brief chat with Harrison can leave you feeling like you’re standing on the verge of a rewarding new Do It Yourself adventure into the world of making beer at home.

Let’s be clear about this: We love beer. But we’ve also been wary of the “hobbyist” you meet at the party who wants to go into excruciating detail about this or that pilsner and such and such hop, malt, barley mix. Look buddy, just because I’ve got one in my hand doesn’t mean I want to hear about how you like to make it. Nothing kills a conversation like hearing some hipster drone on about some collection of buckets in the closet at home.

Or at least, that was the sentiment we had about home brewing before wandering into Fairview Homebrew. Mr. Harrison makes the whole concept seem simple and, yes, even fun. We could even envision getting into it. Any hobby can get expensive and time consuming, allowing the most fervent devotees to geek out and spend countless waking hours on it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The barriers to entry are surprisingly low and, when you think about it, the rewards seem pretty high.

Harrison’s bright and comfortable store stocks everything from regular beer bottles to giant five gallon bottles (“growlers”), more kinds of malted barley than you probably even knew existed, copper coils for cooling off batches of beer, various powders and gadgets and even equipment to make your own wine. Coming soon: equipment for making your own cheese!

Here’s the thing – it would be easy to get overwhelmed by all the stuff in here, but Harrison makes it easy. He tells us that to get started, we’d need a home brewing kit and a kit for the particular kind of beer we’d like to make – a total initial investment of about $125 for our first 53 bottles. That’s $2.36 per beer, about the cost you’d pay buying a decent brew by the sixpack. But after that, your cost drops dramatically. Fairview Homebrew sells (and custom-makes) flavor kits, with everything you need to make a batch of a particular kind of beer (an oaky stout, for example, or a brown ale) running from $25-ish to $40-ish. Suddenly, you’re well under a dollar per beer, with the satisfaction of having made it yourself. As with baking or canning or any other home food pursuits, it’s awfully nice to know exactly what’s going into the stuff you put into your body.

It’s pretty cool to live in a state that’s still in the process of developing a beer scene. Recent changes to our laws, courtesy of Free the Hops, have led to new Alabama breweries like Birmingham’s Good People Brewing Company and what seems to be a major beer explosion in Huntsville. Is home brewing next? Lee Harrison thinks so, and after spending some time in his store, we left thinking so too.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a dog, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.


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  1. ANON says:

    On Friday, Fairview Homebrew in Montgomery received a letter from ABC that instructed the owner to stop selling homebrewing supplies “until such time as their possession is legalized in this state.”
    This small business has been in operation since opening a year and a half ago, and now it is in risk of being shut down!
    HB9 must pass this year! Without it, jobs are being eliminated and tax-paying small businesses are being downsized or closed. Call your Alabama senator immediately, and urge them to pass HB9 this week, before it is too late!

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