As the jobless rate climbed toward 10 percent this summer, Erica Shea and Stephen Valand, quit their advertising jobs, took $10,000 in personal savings and started selling their 1-gallon home brew beer kits from a stand at the Brooklyn Flea Market, testing the theory that beer is recession proof.
“When you go from an actual salary down to $0 an hour, it’s quite an adjustment,” admitted Shea, who got the bug for beer making after she stumbled across her dad’s old home brewing kit. But when Shea and Valand went to brew their first batch they discovered there was no place in New York to buy the ingredients, so they created the Brooklyn Brew Shop. The kits take up only a foot of floor space and come with everything needed to brew your own beer.
Shea said they opened their stand, which they rent for $100 a day, on the July 4th weekend, but sold just five kits. By the end of the month they had moved 40 kits, which go for $40, or $30 without grain. The kits, which make about 12 bottles through a four-week process, include a 1-gallon glass jug, some tubing, a racking cane, a thermometer, sanitizer and the yeast, hops and grain. (read the full story here)
The U.S. craft brewing industry has weathered the recession better than most, with sales up nearly 9 percent in the first half of this year, according to the Brewers Association (BA). The BA, which has more than 1,500 members, also reported that overall U.S. beer sales were down 1.3 percent in the first six months of 2009.
Shea and Valand believe the trend of brewing your own specialty beers will continue to grow and that it will entice a younger, more urban demographic that enjoys the ability to experiment with different flavors.