News / Toronto

Brew your own beer shops open in Toronto to meet rising DIY demand

A new brew of shops is helping Toronto beer lovers take matters into their own hands.

Two home brewing stores in the downtown core — Noble Hop near Dundas and Dufferin, and Brew North set to open in Leslieville later this month — both aim to serve the growing home brew trend in the city.

“Toronto has a huge community of people that are into home brewing,” said Dave Crum, 29, owner of Noble Hop.

Since opening last fall, his sales of equipment and ingredients to make beer have gone “way better than I thought it would go,” he said, and he’s working seven days a week to meet the demand.

Nick Zubacs, 44, is hoping for a similar start when he opens Brew North. Both Zubacs and Crum got into the business based on their own love for home brewing, and the belief that while making your own beer isn't new — you can order kits online — a younger demographic of people want a bricks and mortar store where they can get advice, trade recipes and perfect their craft.

“I think it’s a growing hobby, whether it’s the result of a backlash against corporate ownership, or whether it’s just part of a larger whole food movement,” he said, equating it to the next logical step for a foodie who wants to grow their own food or shop at local farmers markets.

Crum even sees it as “a political statement against the big beer monopolies” and places like The Beer Store, where selection and creativity are lacking, he said.

“If you walk into the Beer Store, 80 per cent of the styles of beer are the same. It’s dominated by a pretty basic light lager style,” he said.

Home brewing, one the other hand, is about experimentation, Zubacs said, similar to the craft beer movement. Only it’s a fraction of the price.

A one gallon starter kit at either store costs about $40. Brewers need to dedicate an evening to actually mix the ingredients, then they wait about a month for the fermentation to take effect.

Crum said that starter kits are by far his best sellers, but he added that some enthusiasts end up spending thousands of dollars turning their homes into “nano-breweries”.

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