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Bad & Condescending LHBS advice

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TyTanium

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Two interesting conversations at a homebrew shop I respect.

First was crushing grain. Mill is locked at 0.040”… I typically crush finer, so I asked the guy if it was possible to adjust it tighter.
Employee: No. 0.040 is an industry standard. No need to crush it finer.
Me: Last time on your mill my efficiency was 20% lower than usual, and I ran it through twice
Employee: Well, that’s the industry standard. Crushing finer won’t do much for you. Buy your own mill if you want a finer crush.

Second was selecting yeast.
Employee: Can I help you with yeast?
Me: No thanks, just brewing a simple pale ale, gonna go with S-04; we're brewing today and won't have time for a starter
Employee: <Puzzled look> Standard 5g batch at 1.055?
Me: Yes.
Employee: You can still go with a Wyeast pack. The cell count is guaranteed, unlike White Labs.
Me: Well, I like pitching 200bn cells for a 1.055 ale, so I&#8217;m gonna keep it easy with the dry yeast.
Employee: If you&#8217;re selecting dry yeast for ease, then your methodology is flawed. It&#8217;s just as easy to take scissors to a dry yeast pack as a liquid one.
Me: I know how to use scissors. I&#8217;m more concerned about cell count.
Employee: That&#8217;s not necessary unless you have a really big beer. Again, the Wyeast cell count is guaranteed. It has a nutrient pack inside.
Me: I think I&#8217;m just gonna go with S-04
Employee: Ok, brew however you want!

I know less-than-stellar advice is common in a homebrew shop, but the condescending tone and misinformation was disheartening to me at such a respected place. And no, I will not name the location; my point is not to bash, more to vent (or have someone call me out if I'm incorrect).

(Beer turned out AWESOME, btw)
 

ktblunden

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Was it the same employee both times? Call them later and ask for the owner and let them know that employee is misinformed and not being very friendly to their customers.
 

ahaley

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Oh man that sucks, I don't know anything about yeast and even less about mills, but I don't know if I'd go back there while those employees are working to avoid the condescending tones, and misunderstandings on people brewing the way they want. That's a bummer
 

Cromwell

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Eh, mill gap probably is standardized at .04. When a shop mills for you, it's to their advantage if your efficiency is a little lower, and to their advantage if you don't get a stuck sparge. I agree with them on this one - buy your own mill.

Yeast count is more just them wanting to sell you a $8 yeast package. Sadly, it's all about profit, and not about making customers as happy as possible.
 
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TyTanium

TyTanium

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Was it the same employee both times? Call them later and ask for the owner and let them know that employee is misinformed and not being very friendly to their customers.
No, two different employees. Good idea to call. I should do that instead of griping about it on a forum, haha. Thanks.

And in fairness, the yeast lady was trying to help, but just had a very patronizing tone. Or at least it came across that way to me.

And yes, I'm saving up to buy my own mill. I guess I was more miffed at the guy's attitude, he clearly had more important things to do than talking to me.
 

lowtones84

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A lot of times they don't like adjusting plates depending on the mill. My last LHBS didn't like to adjust because there mill was kind of oldschool and it was a pain to adjust it and get it back to their standard, but they were totally fine with running the grain through twice if you asked them to. But sounds like that employee was just being a jerk, particularly if it was the same person.
 

Xpertskir

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I cant believe the yeast woman didn't back down after you clearly demonstrated your understanding of the differences between dry and liquid yeast. Obviously there is a systemic hiring(or training) issue but lets face it, hard to find good help, especially at the wages HBS can provide.
 

beergolf

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That make me appreciate my LHBS even more. Great place, decent prices. always friendly, good fresh stock. And always willing to help. He even tells me that for certain things I can get them cheaper online if I want to save a few bucks. He is not out to gouge, just be a good place to frequent. He has my business.
 

ICWiener

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That is a bummer. But this pretty much sums it up:

but lets face it, hard to find good help, especially at the wages HBS can provide.
I have a couple of HBS' to choose from and they all have at least one employee who knows squat about brewing. Luckily the employees are still cool. They will flat out tell you they don't know, rather than try to pretend. I appreciate the honesty.
 

SilverZero

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Employee: That&#8217;s not necessary unless you have a really big beer. Again, the Wyeast cell count is guaranteed. It has a nutrient pack inside.
Me: I think I&#8217;m just gonna go with S-04
Employee: Ok, brew however you want!
This person could almost have made an argument about over-pitching, but would have lost (one package per 5 gallons is how they're designed, right?). He/she was clearly more interested in upselling. Otherwise, why WOULDN'T you pitch 200b viable cells at less than half the cost vs. 100b that needs to be activated anyway? Even Mr. Malty says a 1.055 brew needs 201b cells.
 

Dirty25

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Stuff like this makes me love my LHBS. The guys in there are supper cool and never talk down on you. They love to help out when they can and never act condescending. The owner always tries to sell me the dry yeast over the WL yeast he stocks and never tries to sell me stuff I don't need. Their crush is really good and gets me 75% efficiency.

For a little home brew store in a town of Bud light drinkers its a awesome place. I would talk to the owner and if he is a smart man he would correct his employee. HBS are in the business to be friendly and helpful.
 

Phunhog

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I would have just said that I like the flavor profile of S-04....pretty hard to argue with that! I don't blame the LHBS for not adjusting the mill. Like others have said.....if you want a custom crush go buy a mill.
 
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TyTanium

TyTanium

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I guess I'm used to my usual shop where we mill our own grain and can adjust the mill however we want. If it's a pain to adjust, I definitely understand not wanting to. Still no excuse for the attitude, but I do agree, a mill is next on my list.

Phun -
Haha, I actually did say I wanted a nice expressive English strain that works quickly and flocs well (hence, going for S-04). She recommended 1338...I've never used it, but think I remember reading it's kinda slow and not a great attenuator. Oh well...the strain recommendation was a good-faith effort of a strain she liked. I'm good with that. I just didn't like being made to feel dumb for wanting to pitch a proper amount of yeast. Oh well. Still a good store, and I'll still go back. Thanks for validating my venting.
 

phoenixs4r

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Spend less time posting about it and more time spending money else where.
 

agentEhrman

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Yeah, like others here I am glad to have such a great store here. Our only LHBS is owned and solely operated by one guy. He's been in business something like 18 years, and been brewing much longer. He is the only worker there, he works 47 hours every week just by the hours on the door. (monday through saturday) Not too mention other duties. He often talks me out of dumb decisions and purchases. He rarely closes the store. When he is going to close, he has a sign up for weeks ahead of time and sometimes puts a flyer in the bag about it as well. It sounds like the sales staff at other stores are disrespectful and out to make money only. What a bummer.
 

badhabit

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There are just too many places to buy supplies to have to deal with getting a hard time at a retail business.
 

Gduck

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Sadly I don't have a local homebrew store, but from reading things like this I'm pretty sure no local store is better than having one with snotty employees.

Hopefully you can talk to the owner and things can get worked out. But yeah it is tough though to get a knowledgable staff when you can't pay much. Most of the best employees I've met around the country work their because the love talking homebrew all day long and accept the tradeoff that they aren't going to be making it rich.
 
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TyTanium

TyTanium

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Yeah, this is a quality, well-respected shop with awesome inventory and good prices. That's why I shopped there, and that's why I'll go back. One bad experience doesn't ruin it, and the employees are usually great, these two included. I guess that's why I was so disheartened, because it was so uncharacteristic of them. I just need to let it go; in fact, I already have, I just thought you might enjoy the story :) Thanks for all your comments.
 

Darwin18

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This is why I use Brewmasters Warehouse or Northern Brewer over my LHBS. I get exactly what I want without dealing with anyone's prejudices. Plus I love the crush that BMW provides.
 

FTG-05

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Six or one half dozen the other: Bad and condescending LHBS or no LHBS like we have here in North Alabama, hmmmmm. The one we did have wasn't really a LHBS, plus it closed when the owner died (don't know if it reopened or not, don't care either, see next item) plus it was run by a bunch filthy, smelly hippy morons (sorry for redundancy). I think our nearest store is in Birmingham.

Oh well, thank god for NP, Midsouth, Morebeer etc.!
 

Wynne-R

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Selling homebrew stuff involves an inordinate amount of handholding. They sorta get used to telling the noobs the same stuff over and over. Not much room for nuance. And then they develop a party line for consistency.

I was in my LHBS recently and I heard an employee say something like “Use StarSan. All the rest is junk.” Now I know this guy. I think what he meant was “Buy StarSan. It’s good stuff and you really can’t go wrong with it. There are other ways to go, but I really don’t want to confuse you before your first batch. Next question.”

I often disagree with these guys. But I don’t argue with them in front of customers. That’s what happy hours are for.
 

Andrewtherooster

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As someone who works at a homebrew store, I understand this. The majority of our customers are beginners, so we get asked a lot of questions. That's my favorite part of the job--helping people, talking to people. I only try to up-sell when I honestly think it will benefit the beer, or allow them to save in the long run. My goal is to help people make the best beer possible with what they've got, and as someone who does not have much money myself, I understand brewing on the cheap. I don't know everything, and I'm honest about that--I would rather say that I don't know something than give someone bad advice. We mill our customers' grain because our mill is fickle, old, and a pain to adjust. It's standard for us to mill our all-grain customers' grain twice (but we've got a new mill coming in a few weeks that I'm super excited about).
 
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Me: Where's your Fermcap-S.
LHBS employee: What's that?
Me: Uh, I think I said the right word; you use it to prevent boil-over.
LHBS employee: Why don't you just turn your burner down?
Me: [annoyed look] Okay, where's your calcium chloride?
LHBS employee: [hands me a liquid version]
Me: You don't have it in solid form?
LHBS employee: Never heard of it that way, but you're the second person to ask that today!

:drunk:
 

tre9er

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Yeah, like others here I am glad to have such a great store here. Our only LHBS is owned and solely operated by one guy. He's been in business something like 18 years, and been brewing much longer. He is the only worker there, he works 47 hours every week just by the hours on the door. (monday through saturday) Not too mention other duties. He often talks me out of dumb decisions and purchases. He rarely closes the store. When he is going to close, he has a sign up for weeks ahead of time and sometimes puts a flyer in the bag about it as well. It sounds like the sales staff at other stores are disrespectful and out to make money only. What a bummer.
Kirk is a great guy. You may find a few things that he's got an "old school" philosophy on...but he does have experience going for him. Plus he's told me I could buy something cheaper before as well.

I wish he had bulk discounts. That's literally the only thing I'd change about his shop.
 

agentEhrman

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Kirk is a great guy. You may find a few things that he's got an "old school" philosophy on...but he does have experience going for him. Plus he's told me I could buy something cheaper before as well.

I wish he had bulk discounts. That's literally the only thing I'd change about his shop.
No doubt, I brew too much to not buy in bulk.
 

Hernando

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It's got electrolytes!
classic! Love this. I tried growing my own hops and instead of hydrating them with water, I used brawndo. They never did grow though???

I would defintely give the owner a call and "vent" to him. That is all you can do and hope for changes. If not, then I would go to a different LHBS or shop online.
 

emjay

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I don't see a huge problem with the mill thing. Some LHBSes don't want their mill constantly adjusted, and it's not always about selling more grain by lowering efficiency. I can respect that. Telling you to buy a mill if you want to adjust the gap MAY have been a bit much, depending on his tone, but it's nevertheless true.

The second exchange regarding the yeast would have me pretty ticked off though, and I'm someone who almost always uses liquid yeast. A "guaranteed cell count" doesn't even have anything to do with appropriate pitching rates.
 

newtstampede

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Kirk is a great guy. You may find a few things that he's got an "old school" philosophy on...but he does have experience going for him. Plus he's told me I could buy something cheaper before as well.

I wish he had bulk discounts. That's literally the only thing I'd change about his shop.
Where is it at? I normally drive from Manhattan, KS to Omaha and pass right through there. We dont have one in KS nearby and the one in Omaha is a joke. When asking for montrachet yeast for EdWorts apfelwein i got a lecture on how that is not the right yeast and got a tour of all of his awards from making wine. I also bought a batch of grains, hops, and yeast but forgot to pick up the hops for dry hopping. When i went back the next day to pick them up he said that he does not sell hops without buying the whole grain bill and yeast at the same time. I refuse to go back there now. Northern it is from now on. It might take a day or 2 for shipping but thats not too bad.

I got my start in Tampa, FL with the Brew Shack. Awesome people! Unfortunately it had to close. I would go up there to hang out when i had time off from class. They were always helpful and we used to brew just out the back door and they let us use the GIANT walk in cooler for lagering.
 

Homercidal

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I like my store. They let you walk around shopping. When I was much less experienced I went there on whim and basically said I wanted a recipe for a brown ale. They pulled up a recipe on their laptop, had me look at it and then helped me pick out all of the ingredients.

They got tons of stuff and some stuff for cheese and bread and they sell a BUNCH of beer and wine and even cigars (not that I smoke).
 

tre9er

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Where is it at? I normally drive from Manhattan, KS to Omaha and pass right through there. We dont have one in KS nearby and the one in Omaha is a joke. When asking for montrachet yeast for EdWorts apfelwein i got a lecture on how that is not the right yeast and got a tour of all of his awards from making wine. I also bought a batch of grains, hops, and yeast but forgot to pick up the hops for dry hopping. When i went back the next day to pick them up he said that he does not sell hops without buying the whole grain bill and yeast at the same time. I refuse to go back there now. Northern it is from now on. It might take a day or 2 for shipping but thats not too bad.

I got my start in Tampa, FL with the Brew Shack. Awesome people! Unfortunately it had to close. I would go up there to hang out when i had time off from class. They were always helpful and we used to brew just out the back door and they let us use the GIANT walk in cooler for lagering.
http://kirksbrew.com/

1150 Cornhusker Highway Lincoln, NE 68521

Right off I-180, which isn't much of a detour for you from I-80...if you're coming that way.
 
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