By Chris Heagney
Brewing your own beer at home can seem like a daunting endeavor. From techniques to equipment, there are a lot of decisions to be made and it can be very overwhelming even for the most passionate hobbyist. Instead of digging through blog posts, forums and Amazon reviews, I suggest attending one of the free brewing classes at Asheville Brewers Supply (ABS).
The home brew shop was founded in 1994 by Andy Dahm on April Fools Day, predating Highland Brewing Company by just one week. Ten years later, the shop was moved from its original location on Wall Street to its current space on Merrimon. Then, in 2015, longtime employee of the shop Tedd Clevenger became the new owner.
Since taking over the business, Clevenger has been resolute on helping his customers cultivate their brewing skills. “About half of what we do at ABS is the retail component,” explains Clevenger. “The other half is being an educational center. We spend a lot of time in person and on the phone helping people learn, troubleshoot or brainstorm. People rely on our expertise just as much as they rely on the equipment and soft goods we sell. As such, classes are an extension of our educational value to customers.”
Each month, Clevenger offers a beginner’s course, an advanced course on all-grain brewing, and a kegging workshop, to ensure there are plenty of learning opportunities for all skill levels. “I always see people leave with more confidence and having learned at least something that they can use,” he says. Not only are the courses educational for the folks who attend but Clevenger also benefits from the monthly brew sessions. “Doing the classes affords me the opportunity to experiment with new techniques, yeasts, hops or malts. This industry changes so quickly and it can be hard to keep abreast of it all. These classes afford me an extra opportunity to experiment, and it helps increase my knowledge as well, which is then passed on to consumers.”
After you’ve taken a course and brewed your own beer, the experience doesn’t stop there. You can share your ferments at the ABS Brewer’s Social on every fourth Tuesday of the month, when homebrewers gather over pizza provided by the shop. You can also consider expanding your creations beyond beer. Although it is a “brewer’s supply” store, that only accounts for about two thirds of its business. The shop provides equipment and guidance for those looking to make wine, mead, cider and other fermentables such as cheese and yogurt. Details can be found at AshevilleBrewers.com. All classes are free, but advance registration is required.
Asheville Brewer’s Supply is located at 712 Merrimon Avenue, in Asheville. Christopher Heagney is the owner of Daidala Ciders, located in Asheville at the Historic Cotton Mill Studios at 122 Riverside Drive, Unit G.