As former customers of Annapolis Home Brew, Shawn Dann and Steve Bolton appreciated the range of offerings meant to help everyone, from the first-time brewer to the seasoned winemaker. Now that they’ve been owners of the store for more than two years, they get to help others explore their passion for those crafts.
Part hobby store and part specialty supermarket, Annapolis Home Brew helps enthusiasts with their beer, mead, wine, cider and kombucha needs.
When it comes to beer, Annapolis Home Brew has over 100 proprietary recipes.
“They can be broken out into either extract brewing, which is the quick and easy version, and partial mash brewing, which gives you a little more control, a little more onus is on you, and then all-grain brewing where you are definitely in charge; it’s like making a cake from scratch as opposed to making it from a kit,” said Bolton, the store manager. “They all make good beer.”
Although brewing will save someone money in the long run, Bolton said it’s more about the fun and enjoying the process.
“When I used to brew personally for fun, it was a social activity,” Bolton said. “We would get together, make beer, spend an afternoon doing it. If you do all-grain brewing, it can take six or seven hours, so plenty of time to enjoy what you made the last time. Getting friends together – enjoying food, enjoying beer, enjoying the process of making it – is as much a part of it as the end result.”
Bolton said that in brewing, there are no bad ideas, only bad procedures when people don’t follow proper sanitation. That’s why the Annapolis Home Brew staff members not only offer equipment but also lend their advice whenever possible.
“We have classes so we can show people the process, show them what it takes to do brewing or winemaking or cider making, and we also can rent out our kitchen for anyone who knows how to brew but doesn’t have the space needed or the large equipment that you need to do some of these bigger beers,” Bolton said.
An added bonus for customers are the build-a-beer, build-a-wine and build-a-cider experiences. Customers pay one price and they get all the ingredients and equipment use as well as private lessons for up to four people to make either beer, wine or cider. Annapolis Home Brew will let the beverage ferment onsite, and people return to the store for bottling day.
“You don’t have to worry about buying a kettle, buying a burner, buying anything but the ingredients,” Bolton said. “We’re trying to entice people into brewing by showing them how easy it can be. It can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be. You can just grab a kit off the shelf and make a beer, or you can get into all the fine minutia of blending the flavors and ‘I want a half-ounce of this and three ounces of that and 17 pounds of something else’ to create your recipes, and there’s a lot of online help you can get.”
Currently, Annapolis Home Brew is taking orders for six-gallon pales of Chilean wine juice. With a delivery date set for mid-April, the supplies will allow people to make 30 bottles of wine per bucket.
“We have started appealing more to winemakers because unlike brewing, which is very labor intensive upfront, winemaking, if you do it from juice or from one of our recipe kits, it’s kind of like you add the yeast and let them do all the heavy lifting for you,” Bolton said. “They will eat the sugar, turn it into alcohol, turn it into [carbon dioxide], and then eventually die off. You have a brew day and it’s going to take anywhere from two to seven hours, so there’s a lot more potential winemakers out there than brewers because winemaking is so passive. And when you’re done making wines from one of our kits, you get 28 to 30 bottles, so that can be very cost-effective.”
Annapolis Home Brew also has supplies to make kombucha, which is full of probiotics and antioxidants. Kombucha can be offered as a non-alcoholic beverage, so even the kids can make it.
“We also have soda-making kits for people who want to have a project to do with the kids while they’re out of school and you’re looking to fill all of this downtime,” Bolton said. “Hopefully we can reach a large amount of people and help them get through this [shutdown].”
With dogs frequently hanging out at the store on weekends, and popcorn made for the kids, Annapolis Home Brew hopes to appeal to all types of people.
“This is not just dad’s den; this is a place the whole family can enjoy,” Bolton said. “It’s a great activity for couples and we have a lot of solo female brewers; it certainly is not just a guy hobby.”
Annapolis Home Brew is located behind Severna Park Lanes and Pete’s Cycle at 836 Ritchie Highway, Suite 19, in Severna Park. Hours are noon to 8:00pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; 10:00am to 5:00pm on Saturday; and noon to 4:00pm on Sunday. For more information, call 410-975-0930 or visit www.annapolishomebrew.com.