Purple Profile: Evanston brew store offers lessons, events

Visitors listen to a Brew Camp employee. The business recently opened a store in Evanston, 821 Chicago Ave., which offers about 50 types of grains and hops and 10 different yeasts.

Source: Brew Camp

Visitors listen to a Brew Camp employee. The business recently opened a store in Evanston, 821 Chicago Ave., which offers about 50 types of grains and hops and 10 different yeasts.

Julian Gerez, Reporter

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A new store is bubbling up in Evanston.

Brew Camp, a shop that has its main store in Chicago opened its Evanston location, 821 Chicago Ave., on Saturday, making it easy for brew lovers to begin to experiment with creating their own drinks.

The store sells supplies for the potential home brewer, including about 50 types of grains and hops and 10 different yeasts. 

“This stuff all wants to be beer,” Brew Camp owner Jared Saunders said. “It’s not difficult. Making beer is just like making soup.”

However, the shop isn’t limited to just selling ingredients. It also provides classes as well as private events.

Saunders chose to expand his brew shop to Evanston, a city which remained “dry” until 1972.

Saunders felt the city would be a good fit for his business because of the Evanston Homebrew Club — a club founded to promote homebrewing through community learning — and the tendency for the Chicago store’s customers to be from Evanston. Northwestern also played an important role in his decision to move to Evanston, he said, provided that expected student customers who want to brew are of legal age.

“We looked at a lot of neighborhoods in Chicago, we looked at Seattle, and I even thought about going back to Utah,” Saunders said. “But personally, I like this town a lot. In the end, it just made sense.”

Saunders has been homebrewing beer for more than 20 years.

“I grew up in Utah,” he said. “Because of some funny alcohol laws, if you wanted to have a good beer you had to either go to Idaho or make it yourself.”

Obviously, Saunders chose the latter.

“When I started brewing it was really hard to find fresh ingredients, good ingredients — ingredients period,” he said. “Now we’ve got things that make the process faster, much easier and much more reliable.”

Though his primary job is as a web developer, Saunders said he’s always wanted to “build his own brand.”

“What I get to do now is, personally, extremely fulfilling,” Saunders said. “I still build and design websites, but owning a brew shop provides an unending stream of smiles.”

Even though the primary purpose of Brew Camp is beer, it is not limited to the ales, stouts or lagers. The store also helps people learn and provide materials to make wine, ciders and even sodas — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

So what does it cost to get started? It costs about $80 to get all the equipment you need, along with $40 worth of ingredients to make five gallons of beer.

Like Saunders, new Brew Camp employee Dan Schoeneberg has other jobs — he works is at a museum and as a voice-over actor. He said anyone who wants to try the craft should just “go for it.”

“Brewing is a science, but it’s not rocket science,” Schoeneberg said. “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

Email: juliangerez2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @jgerez_news

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