In July 2009 Stephen Valand and Erica Shea used their small-enough-for-a-New-York-City-apartment Beer Making Kits and their and their steadfast focus on quality to launch Brooklyn Brew Shop. Since then, the husband-and-wife team has added Hard Cider and Sparkling Wine Kits to their brew list, as well as their new line of FarmSteady DIY food kits to make crafting cheese, kraut, and even bagels simple and fun.
Stephen and Erica have been brewing beer since. When they started, they ran into the same problem most urban home brewers do: The required equipment was way too big for their small living space. What to do? Create smaller equipment, of course! Stephen and Erica came up with a 1-gallon brewing system that easily fits in a small apartment. From there, they created simple-to-use kits to help their friends (and strangers) brew beer from the comfort of their own homes; Erica and Stephen thrive on helping their city brethren become city brewers.
Before Stephen and Erica launched Brooklyn Brew Shop at the Brooklyn Flea, they took time off from their day jobs—Erica in marketing and Stephen in film—to go on a seven-week backpacking trip through Europe. They thought if they could survive seven weeks on the road together with no friends, family, or familiarity, they could start and run a company together. When they got back, jobs were quit, partnerships were made, and the Brooklyn Brew Shop was born. Though they didn’t have business degrees or entrepreneurial experience, Stephen and Erica were confident they could figure it out. And it looks like they have.
Home brewers aren’t rare these days. Stephen and Erica learned that a lot of people share their interest in making beer at home, as well as their desire to, as Stephen puts it, “get a bit closer to what we’re eating and drinking.” Their kits struck a cord and the company has grown at a steady clip.
Stephen and Erica’s goals are to empower people in the kitchen, help people understand what they’re eating and drinking, and demystify the process of making things from scratch like beer, hard cider, and yummy foods. Stephen explains, “We always want to simplify the process without dumbing it down. We want you to be able to make something that’s as good as what you can buy in the store or order at a restaurant.” And Stephen and Erica believe that as more people craft their own food and drinks from scratch, they’ll look at the ingredients and understand what they’re eating. Then they’ll eat out less, eat healthier, and feel better. Stephen and Erica are also eager to help their customers become better-informed consumers.
The entrepreneurial process has not always been easy. Stephen says the most important skill is the ability to “roll with the punches.” He believes that “there’s always a new thing to learn,” and he applies that philosophy to the couple’s DIY approach to brewing and to running their company. This means they’ve learned a whole lot along the way.
Brooklyn Brew Shop is also focused on reducing waste by developing more than 100 spent-grain (the grain that’s left over after the beer has been brewed) recipes and sharing them with their customers.
Ready to give home brewing a try? Apple season is fast approaching and we have Brooklyn Brew Shop’s DIY Hard Cider Kit available in our online marketplace. Happy brewing!