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Old 11-30-2011, 11:58 PM   #1
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Default Baltimore-area LHBS vs. online shopping

It's pretty sad that it's less expensive for me to order supplies online than to simply drive 20 minutes and buy directly from the stores in my area.

I suppose the convenience and being able to examine everything and make decisions is great. It's also nice to have helpful employees who can assist me with questions. Annapolis Homebrew was great with that.

I have found that some of the mail order supply chains are quick to respond to email questions and phone calls as well.

Unless I have lengthy amounts of questions that I don't feel like typing out or discussing by phone, customer service comes up even for the most part.

I suppose it is simply disappointing that I have to pay more to buy in person even with shipping costs.

I cannot speak for them all, as I have not been to Thirsty Brewer. Unfortunately, they lack a website that gives details of their prices and I have yet to meet a local brewer who shops there.

As for online purchases, I have used Brew Gadgets, Northern Brewer, and Midwest Brewing Supplies, and (Coopers products) with great results from each of them.

I am currently waiting on some Austin Homebrew stuff to arrive so I can't give a plus or negative on them yet. They have been great with keeping me updated thus far though.

I understand renting and leasing in some areas is much more expensive than others. I get some price differences.

So, has anyone been to Thirsty Brewer? Is it also a waste of time and gas money when I can simply order online?

Is it safe to buy Wyeast and other liquid yeasts online or should I continue to purchase them from LHBS? Any recommended sites for this in warmer weather months?

Thanks. Rant, comments, and questions complete. I hope this wasn't too chaotic of a read.

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Old 12-01-2011, 12:48 AM   #2
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Isn't MOST online shopping cheaper than a local retailer? I just spent a bit more at my LHBS vs. ordering online as 1) I could ask them questions about the c02 tank, regulator, etc. I just bought 2) they've been damn helpful in the past in answering my n00b questions and 3) I love instant gratification Of course if they had zero customer service skills and offered no other value to me than I wouldn't think twice to order online - but I'd also have no room to complain when in the future I had no LHBS nearby.

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Old 12-01-2011, 01:00 AM   #3
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Not sure if you are north or south of Baltimore, But if you are more southwest then Maryland Homebrew in Columbia is a solid homebrew store. With any homebrew store you are going to spend a few more dollars and if $2-$5 per brew is busting your budget then go ahead and buy online. But if you can afford it, you should try and help out your local store at least every couple of batches. If you ever get a bum pack of yeast or need a last minute item that you can't wait online for, you want that homebrew store to be open for ya!
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Old 12-01-2011, 01:01 AM   #4
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I buy a lot on line, but make a conscious effort to support my LHBS. I live in MD, however the shop is in DE. Its sorta on the way home from work. One thing you have to remember about MD. We are not a business friendly state. So by the time the shop pays it's taxes, rent and fees, (and don't forget the sales tax on your end), it's really hard for them to compete. My LHBS isn't really that far off on grains/hops. So, by the time I order from Brewmaster's Warehouse and add in the shipping costs, there is only a couple dollars difference. But I often order on line because...well, I'm lazy.
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Old 12-01-2011, 04:21 AM   #5
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I used to go to the thirsty brewer all the time. Good selection good prices and helpful people. Join their homebrew club a bunch of great people and they are very active. You also get a discount at the store if you attend a few meetings a year. I would go to the thirsty brewer over ordering online any time
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Old 12-01-2011, 02:22 PM   #6
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I am going to second the recommendation for Maryland Homebrew over in Columbia, MD. They have a huge selection of specialty malts, and sell their hops in vacuum sealed packs. The Flying Barrel in Frederick is a little closer to me, and they just moved into a larger building, but their shop just isn't quite as slick as Maryland Homebrew's. Unless I am getting a big ticket item, brewing hardware or other items in bulk like starsan, or PBW, it's easier to just drive the 20 minutes and grab hops and specialty grains for a few more dollars at one of the LHBS in the area.

I imagine the feeling I get when perusing the brew store is how women feel in Home Goods or World Market. It makes me all fuzzy inside.
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Old 12-01-2011, 03:26 PM   #7
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I have been to and used both Annapolis Homebrew and Maryland Homebrew. I prefer Maryland Homebrew, but both are GREAT stores. Its simply a preference. maryland homebrew does a lot with my homebrew club, so perhaps that's why I am partial to them.

They are a bit more expensive, but its nice to shop for myself as opposed to online ordering. I also like tasting grains and getting some pointers. And LHBS's need to cover their costs so maybe that's why they tend to be a bit more expensive. They also probably aren't buying in as large of quantities as the online giants.

Although, when i do order online i use Brewmasterswarehouse. They have flat shipping and EXCELLENT customer service. basically they are my go to place if I know that I don't have time to get down to columbia or annapolis.

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