It’s perhaps less surprising that two Brooklyn couples offering brew-your-own beer kits arrived at just the same time than it is that this DIY borough went without for so long. But until Danielle Cefaro and Benjamin Stutz (of Brooklyn Homebrew) and Erica Shea and Stephen Valand (of Brooklyn Brew Shop) started selling suds-makings this summer, the only city source for aspiring brewers was the interweb . . . or maybe a crusty old hydroponics shop—with a side of suds stock—on the way out to Long Island. Happily, those who seek to make their own Red Beard’s Red Ale (via Homebrew) or Grapefruit Honey Ale (via Brew Shop) now have two local sources for their glass carboys and their bottle cappers, their barley and hops and malts.
As the younger of the brewing couples, Shea and Valand offer simpler kits and sell them online and at both Brooklyn Fleas, where they’ll gently crack your barley for you. The pair met at Boston University a few years back and got started brewing when Shea stumbled onto her dad’s old homebrew kit—”all covered in dust and cobwebs,” she recalls—in her Massachusetts basement during a holiday visit. Valand grew up in Bay Ridge, but Brew Shop’s beer-kit base of operations now annoys the roommates in Valand’s bigger Bed-Stuy apartment. Their sweetest innovation is the $30 city kit, which takes up less than a square foot and includes a smaller-than-standard, cute gallon glass carboy for fermenting.
Over in Sunset Park, Stutz and Cefaro sell a larger range of goods (like bottle cappers and books) out of their living room, which doubles as storage space and retail showroom. A married pair of former chefs from Park Slope’s Little D restaurant, they’ve been brewing and cooking for nearly eight years and had initially hoped to open a “chef-driven bar,” says Cefaro, a Brighton Beach native. Costs converted that plan—like so much brewer’s yeast—into a homebrew supply shop stocked with raw ingredients, gear (a $75 starter kit includes a 6.5-gallon plastic fermenting bucket) and recipe kits from Belgian saison to Easter ale.
Both couples have found that bringing Brooklyn beer-making gear takes a toll on their living arrangements, which become cluttered with supply. Notes Cefaro: “Our entire freezer is full of hops, our entire fridge is full of yeast, and our living room is full of barley and buckets.”
Editor’s note: Brooklyn Homebrew has closed.