Northern Brewer - Buyer Beware

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Panderson1

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I ordered from Austin HB. I think they are owned by NB now? All the grain bags had the NB label on it.... anyways they delayed the shipment 10 days. Email response sounded broken english. They also don't have ice packs for shipping yeast.
 
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search on austin homebrew supply ownership at DuckDuckGo

to get to the 1st of the 'bi-weekly' topics on Dec 3 2021.


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NobleNewt

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I ordered from Austin HB. I think they are owned by NB now? All the grain bags had the NB label on it.... anyways they delayed the shipment 10 days. Email response sounded broken english. They also don't have ice packs for shipping yeast.
Same thing happened to me about a year ago. Didn’t realize at the time that NB bought out AIH and AHS. I think I ordered from AIH, and got my order within about a week but it was a hodgepodge of NB-branded hops and other accessories.

Even still, I got my order within a week—same week as placing the order.
 

Zanatrik

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I will attempt to be fair to NB as I work in purchasing and have suppliers in the Milwaukee area. That market has been tough for labor since before the pandemic and it only made things worse. I have seen very much the same problems from my suppliers as it sounds like everyone is having with NB.

That said they could be handling communications more effectively as many folks have already stated. the local places will hopefully gain some steady business and

I’ll also put in a plug for Atlantic Brew Supply, which is near enough to me, but has also delivered orders very quickly and communicated well on my order statuses.
 

D.B.Moody

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I will attempt to be fair to NB as I work in purchasing and have suppliers in the Milwaukee area. That market has been tough for labor since before the pandemic and it only made things worse. I have seen very much the same problems from my suppliers as it sounds like everyone is having with NB.
You are being very nice, and that is a good thing.
BUT do not forget: Northern Brewer created the problem when they bought and closed Austin Homebrew Supply & Adventures in Homebrewing. They closed the locals in Ann Arbor and Austin. They got rid of those workers and warehousing there to realize the savings of doing it all from Northern Brewer. So far it isn't working. Well maybe the making more money part is working. They've certainly raised on line prices for AHS and AIH to be in line with theirs, but they are not handling orders in a timely manner, and they are, to put it nicely, being less than forthcoming about the shipping delays. The bean counters did this. They deserve customer dissatisfaction and disrespect. Apparently the in store experience is still good, but, make no mistake about it, Northern Brewer is owned by venture capital people who are squeezing the nickles too hard.
 
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NobleNewt

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You are being very nice, and that is a good thing.
BUT do not forget: Northern Brewer created the problem when they bought and closed Austin Homebrew Supply & Adventures in Homebrewing. They closed the locals in Ann Arbor and Austin. They got rid of the workers who shipped to realize the savings of doing it all from Northern Brewer. So far it isn't working. Well maybe the making more money part is working. They've certainly raised on line prices for AHS and AIH to be in line with theirs, but they are not handling orders in a timely manner, and they are, to put it nicely, being less than forthcoming about the shipping delays. The bean counters did this. They deserve customer dissatisfaction and disrespect. Apparently the in store experience is still good, but, make no mistake about it, Northern Brewer is owned by venture capital people who are squeezing the nickles too hard.
Just seems to me like NB would have leveraged the physical locations of those stores to make the ordering, warehousing, and shipping situation more streamlined. Multiple warehouses/stores to ship to different regions throughout the country.

Effectively what they did was increase their web presence by adding two domains but let go of the PEOPLE who make that deal work.

I will say that even before NB bought AHS, AHS was much slower than others in getting shipments out.
 

Teufelhunde

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Just seems to me like NB would have leveraged the physical locations of those stores to make the ordering, warehousing, and shipping situation more streamlined. Multiple warehouses/stores to ship to different regions throughout the country.
That's what a rational person would think, but the corporate bean counters are not rational people. The ONLY thing they think about is "where are we spending six cents that we could NOT spend"....
 

kartracer2

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Per usual, when this topic is brought up, most people forget that Aih/AHS sold out to NB/MW. They are the ones that left in the dark of the night with a "bag 'O' cash" and abandoned the stores and the workers. They should have sold with the conditions that NB keep the store fronts open and the worker bees buzzing, right?. I might add that a single warehouse makes more biz sense than multiple sites for most entities but It's not a hard and fast rule.
As far as pricing goes, no one is forcing anybody to buy from NB/MW/AiH. Somebody is always going to be the highest priced seller in any market. If NB can make their prices fly then who is really wrong here?.
Look at the lowest cost seller, they are losing profits at their price model. Also the low cost seller most likely has less inventory than NB. For example, try buying Munton & Fison DME, organic or sorghum LME at RiteBrew, good luck. (pilsen LME is even out of stock at this time @ RB). Why doesn't your local/favorite seller have every grain,hop,yeast NB carries?
It looks like NB should have let those brands (AiH/AHS) die on their own rather than try to keep them alive. It is costing them a lot of points in the game right now I'm guessing.
I will agree 100% that they should have a current and more accurate shipping time schedule on their checkout page. Every seller should. The lack thereof and long delays is a black eye for them without doubt.
Cheers, :mug:
Joel B.
 
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NobleNewt

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That's what a rational person would think, but the corporate bean counters are not rational people. The ONLY thing they think about is "where are we spending six cents that we could NOT spend"....
Right.. The funny thing is, if you hand out a couple thousand $10 off coupons, you could scrap together enough money to hire an employee or two. 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

Dancy

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Everybody talks a good game but the fact is homebrewers do not support local shops when they have them. If I had a dime for every time somebody came in my shop with a fancy glossy morebeer catalog and wanted to beat me up because an airlock was .59 from them and I was selling them for .99 I could retire. And all the people who came in, looked at everything in my store, had me pull stuff out of boxes and show them, asked me 100 questions and then ran home and bought online to save $10. Our homebrew club used to get together and buy grain by the pallet from a distributor and split it among themselves.
Yours may be the best post in the thread. In the 80s, I worked in a camera store on commission, one of a few family owned stores in the area. The staff was very knowldgeable about the products and photography. A few of us made some money here and there at photography. Some so-called customers came in with their latest issue of Popular Photography magazine with the New York City mail order camera store ads and want us to match their price. They also liked pumping us for our knowledge — then didn’t buy anything, taking me away from assisting paying customers.

Again, I’ll buy from NB and Midwest in-person because they’re local for me. I just hope they don’t destroy themselves with their online ordering issues.
 
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NobleNewt

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Yours may be the best post in the thread. In the 80s, I worked in a camera store on commission, one of a few family owned stores in the area. The staff was very knowldgeable about the products and photography. A few of us made some money here and there at photography. Some so-called customers came in with their latest issue of Popular Photography magazine with the New York City mail order camera store ads and want us to match their price. They also liked pumping us for our knowledge — then didn’t buy anything, taking me away from assisting paying customers.

Again, I’ll buy from NB and Midwest in-person because they’re local for me. I just hope they don’t destroy themselves with their online ordering issues.
I could be wrong, but based on the experience I had, the brick and mortar operations are separate from their online ops. In my effort to talk to someone about my order, I called the Milwaukee store, and the guy I talked to said he didn’t have any access to the online orders.

Therefore, if you’re using NB as your LHBS, then you may be fine.
 

Rish

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On October 6, I ordered some kits they had on sale. Got confirmation on the same day then nothing since. I emailed them last night about the status and got a pleasant response this morning saying it had a planned ship date of 10/12 but that due to labor issues that has been pushed to 5 to 6 days from now. I was also told that if that wouldn't work for me they would be happy to cancel the order and return my money. The kits were a good price and I'm not in any hurry so I'm okay with this but as many have said it would make sense that they would be proactive in letting customers know what to realistically expect regarding delivery. I will definitely take this into consideration when thinking about ordering from them again. If it was something I had planned a brew day around, I'd be pi$$ed. I also told them they were getting some pretty bad press on the homebrew sites. They didn't address that!
 
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Again, I’ll buy from NB and Midwest in-person because they’re local for me.
Visual +1. And ...

... "Cash and carry" FTW!

I just hope they don’t destroy themselves with their online ordering issues.
It's likely that they (Northern Brewer) will be OK 6 (12, 24, ...) months from now.

It's also likely that they are watching social media. Maybe classic forums like HomeBrewTalk still have some weight (vs Twitter & Facebook).

the brick and mortar operations are separate from their online ops. In my effort to talk to someone about my order, I called the Milwaukee store, and the guy I talked to said he didn’t have any access to the online orders.
It's plausible that the stores and the web site are separate "internal accounting units".

It's also common business practice to restrict employee access to data based on the role that they have.
 

Christoff

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Not sure who owns them anymore. I think it’s an investment group.

I’ve got Amazon Prime too, but I still get most of my stuff in a couple of days at worst. Maybe my standards are too high, but I expect to get most in-stock items from a seller within a week. I don’t think that’s unreasonable, but maybe it is. 🤷🏻‍♂️
The guy at my LHB says Molson owns them (I think it was molson he said, none the less it was one of those monster beer companies). NB is terrible. I only just started using them and they screwed up 80% of my first few orders, including screwing up an order they had to send me to send me items they forgot from an order. And then their customer service reps are super condescending. They attempted to make things right with a rather large gesture (after several days of nightmare customer service) but I'm not sure it is good enough. Particularly if they can't get orders right. I would NEVER recommend them. The LHB guy says more beer is better
 

wepeeler

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The guy at my LHB says Molson owns them (I think it was molson he said, none the less it was one of those monster beer companies). NB is terrible. I only just started using them and they screwed up 80% of my first few orders, including screwing up an order they had to send me to send me items they forgot from an order. And then their customer service reps are super condescending. They attempted to make things right with a rather large gesture (after several days of nightmare customer service) but I'm not sure it is good enough. Particularly if they can't get orders right. I would NEVER recommend them. The LHB guy says more beer is better
Morebeer is definitely better right now, but NB customer service has been great every time I've needed to deal with them. The only issue I've had is a delay in processing and shipping. Sometimes more than a week or two. But when I actually have to contact them, they've been extremely helpful.
 

Skeeter686

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I am not a NB apologizer, but I feel obligated to say that while they did screw up my last order, they also made it right when I brought it to their attention, and I ended up with free grain from the experience. They're certainly not as quick to ship as they had been, but they owned their mistake on my last order and they fixed it to my satisfaction.
 

A1sportsdad

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I just ordered 2 Perlick Faucets from NorthernBrewer and received them without delay.
Not sure if their issue is with Personnel or Supply Chain. The company I work for has been having a huge Supply Chain issue ever since COVID started and it continues. These are issues getting our own parts. Cannot get reliable dates for when parts will be delivered and then the dates slip and they re-adjust and assign a new date. Supply Chain issues are a real problem, but that's all the more reason for good communication.
 

Christoff

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That's good to know, however I am finding it quite surprising how averse to having conversations this site it. Yes of course an internet search is always an option but what is the problem with talking to people. A simple "that's inaccurate information and this is why" would suffice. I joined this site to talk to people and invite people to correct things I am learning/been told/or am doing wrong with my brewing, not get directed back to the internet to spend more time wasting my life going to boring rabbit holes. You can find anything with a "simple" search online, but if that's the preferred method on this site then what is the point of it? I was watching this site for a while before a started posting and this is far too common a response. There is nothing wrong with just chatting with people like you normally would face to face. We don't sit down have a beer with friends/acquantances and tell them to do a "simple internet search" before they talk, why do it here? It's counter productive to a conversation and certainly doesn't encourage people to ask questions. This is the very reason so many posts on here come with lengthy qualifiers rather than just getting to the point of the question/post. People are clearly afraid to say some "wrong". (phone did something weird there for some reason)
 

tracer bullet

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That's good to know, however I am finding it quite surprising how averse to having conversations this site it. Yes of course an internet search is always an option but what is the problem with talking to people.

Because, on the first page of this very thread, it was mentioned. No one is averse to a conversation, or talking, it's just tough to rehash something already discussed in the same thread it was brought up again in.

Mega 500 page threads don't count of course. But in this one, maybe read it before posting?
 

kartracer2

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That's good to know, however I am finding it quite surprising how averse to having conversations this site it. Yes of course an internet search is always an option but what is the problem with talking to people. A simple "that's inaccurate information and this is why" would suffice. I joined this site to talk to people and invite people to correct things I am learning/been told/or am doing wrong with my brewing, not get directed back to the internet to spend more time wasting my life going to boring rabbit holes. You can find anything with a "simple" search online, but if that's the preferred method on this site then what is the point of it? I was watching this site for a while before a started posting and this is far too common a response. There is nothing wrong with just chatting with people like you normally would face to face. We don't sit down have a beer with friends/acquantances and tell them to do a "simple internet search" before they talk, why do it here? It's counter productive to a conversation and certainly doesn't encourage people to ask questions. This is the very reason so many posts on here come with lengthy qualifiers rather than just getting to the point of the question/post. People are clearly afraid to say some "wrong". (phone did something weird there for some reason)
I am going to have to disagree a little bud. If you read a lot of the posts asking questions you will see that the more info you give up front, the less questions need to be asked back to help you.
If you jump in and plead for help with the question "I don't have bubbles!! Help! Is my beer ruined?" To respond to that I need to know much more info. That's why long lead in's can actually help rather than hinder.
As for the Northern Brewer ownership question, that has been regurgitated many times here and other places. I will have to admit, this is the first time I have heard Molsen's name in the mix. If Ab-Inbev had never been in the picture, NB's ownership would be a non-starter. "Big beer is always bad" gets a lot of press.
As @tracer bullet noted, sometimes reading the the whole post gives you the context you sometimes need. I too sometimes ask simple dumb questions that a forum search may have provided an answer to. I will add the "search" on this site has left me disappointed sometimes.
It's all good though. A forum is not like chatting with friends at the watering hole. Sometimes the spoken word can come across quite differently than typed text and allowances need to be taken.
Cheers, :mug:
Joel B.
 
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@Christoff : #135 came across as a rant rather than an starting point for discussion.

In #135, you replied to someone who suggested (correctly) that NB had been purchased by an investment group.
Not sure who owns them anymore. I think it’s an investment group.
Rather than researching to resolve the conflicting information, you chose to pass along the incorrect information.




In this topic (link), posts #1 (Dec 2021) and #15 (Jan 2022) were probably enough information to adjust on-line buying habits - if one were concerned about the impact of a merger on the performance of a company. Personally, I use NB's in person stores on occasion, so I concluded that the impact of the merger was likely to not impact me.

And, in Jan 2023, this remains true (for me):

...
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as an aside, note the the 'joined date' and 'post count' for OP in that link.
 
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Also, it should be noted that there are larger topics (for example
  1. Turning your Fermonster into a complete closed transfer system for cheap!
  2. tips for excellent extract brewing
  3. cold extraction,
  4. steeping,
  5. extract "darker than expected",
  6. "can't bottle hoppy styles",
  7. advanced extract brewing,
  8. water adjustments,
  9. flavor salt additions when brewing with DME
  10. probably most recipe specific topics (I'm aware of a couple, but this list is getting long)
  11. apologies to those aggregating information and maintaining lists that I didn't list
where people make time to aggregate information and post summary reading lists because these topics are not easy to web search.

And it looks like 2023 will add another item to that discussion list: For those who missed it, there's a topic where people are talking about fermentation temperature control (3 gal batches) using common (USA) house-hold equipment. For those starting out home brewing, it's an option that can produce better results than fermenting at ambient air temperature. Nothing extra to buy when starting or dispose of if the hobby doesn't work out.
 

glick

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About two months ago I had a similar experience with NB. After 3 weeks and their “short staffed” reply’s to my inquiries I asked for my order to be refunded so that could go elsewhere. Miraculously my order was shipped within 30 minutes. I won’t order from them again. There are far too many better options.
 
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