Jason Smith started brewing beer at home when he was twenty. “I couldn’t buy it, so I made it,” he says. Smith, now thirty-eight, has been brewing beer at home ever since. In 1999, he started helping other home brewers make beer when he and a friend opened Adventures in Home Brewing, a home brewing supply store in suburban Detroit. The store struggled at first, and his friend left in 2001. But with the rise of the Food Network and its ilk, people became enthusiastic about cooking gourmet meals at home, and some began crafting beverages to go with them. At the same time, the craft brewing industry boomed, carrying home brewing along with it. Professional brewers at Ann Arbor’s Wolverine Brewery and Plymouth’s Liberty Street Brewing Company got their start as home brewers buying supplies from Smith.
Smith opened a second Adventures in Home Brewing on Jackson Rd. west of Zeeb at the end of August. Beginning home brewing kits start at $70 and include all the equipment you need to get started. In addition to the equipment you’ll need the ingredients. Smith carries those too, including hops, malt, yeast, and grains like barley, oats, and rye.
Smith says he’s been fortunate. Unlike many retailers, his business goes up when the economy goes down, in part because people start entertaining more at home instead of going out. “With home brewing, you can have a bunch of friends over, and you can have two cases of beer at twenty-four bottles a case for around $30,” he says. “Staying home and brewing a batch of beer is a very inexpensive hobby.”
Several of his customers have gone on to open their own brewpubs, including his friend, Pete Romain, who started coming into the store in 2001 and now owns the Fort Street Brewery in Lincoln Park. But Smith has no interest in opening a brewpub himself.
“I like my life,” he explains. “I start work at ten and leave at seven. I’m not running a bar, I’m not there at six serving other people their drinks all night.” But what if he did open a brewery? Smith ponders the question. “Would I enjoy it? Yes. Would I make more money? Possibly. Would my nine- or ten-hour [workday] turn into sixteen pretty quick?” He laughs. “Certainly.”
Adventures in Home Brewing, 6071 Jackson Rd. 352-6692. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sun. homebrewing.org