Brett Mullin, 27, of Haddon Township, NJ is a graduate of Runnemede High School. Mullin owns and operates a home brew shop in Westmont, NJ called Brew Your Own Bottle. It is one of the only home brew stores in the Camden County area and is in a prime location on Haddon Avenue. I spoke with Mullin to find out more about him, the store and what he does there.
How long has the store been in Westmont and what were you doing before it started?
The store opened in June of 2010. Before I opened the store I did carpentry work for about eight years with a company called MTP Construction based out of Mt. Laurel, NJ.
Why did you chose this location in Westmont?
I wanted to be in Collingswood, but it’s a dry town. Haddon Ave is a great location in Westmont. It has a lot of foot traffic. It’s a good location, but hard to see from the road. I get calls all time asking exactly where we are located. I do sometimes get people stopping in that are just driving by and they are often surprised to see a home brew store here.
What made you decide to start a home brew store?
Carpentry really. I liked it but hurt my shoulder and had to give it up because of surgeries. I’ve been brewing since I was younger. I loved it and decided to make a career out of it.
How long have you been brewing and what is your personal background in the field?
At 18 I started brewing, but I was doing carpentry work full time. A customer gave me some brew tips and told me about the equipment I’d need. Back then you had to rely on a home brew shop because the Internet was not as full of options for brewers to make it easier. Beer Crafters in Turnersville, NJ on Green Tree Road was were I used to shop. It closed three years ago. It was hectic when I first started without having the options the Internet gives people today. Now you also have kits, instruction on how to put them together and tips on everything now.
What types of supplies do you sell at the store? What are your biggest sellers?
Basically anything to make beer, wine or soda. We sell a lot of start up kits, various grains, yeasts and hops. Depending on the season, it’s mainly what people are looking for so they can make seasonal brews and that’s what sells most during whatever time of year it is.
Can you give some detail about the lessons and classes you provide?
Four people come in to brew, you and three others, any day that we are open. Before 1pm they come in, brew a batch and leave by 7pm. I walk them through everything and teach them how to brew. I explain what to do, what equipment to use, the whole process to bottling. They come back in a few weeks to pick up their brew. It usually takes three to four weeks depending on what they brew.
What are some of your favorite craft beers and bars in the area?
2X IPA from Southern Tier, Allentown’s Hopsolutely and Fegley’s Jolly Pumpkin La Roja are some of my current favorite craft beers. I really like The Pour House in Westmont, Blue Monkey Tavern in Merchantville, NJ and a new one that will be replacing Cork in Westmont called Keg and Kitchen. It will be opening this spring and will be a craft beer bar.
What types of struggles or setbacks have you had to overcome to help make the store successful?
In the beginning it was hard becoming a licensed beer school because you can’t get a permit for it in NJ. You have to become a wine school to get licensed. A liquor licenses is a must too in order to serve samples on property. I also did all the general construction on the shop. It was total diy and it took nine months to finish.
What’s next for you and Brew Your Own Bottle?
More of the same. I try learn all my customers by first name and know their wives and girlfriends by name. I really want it to be a person to person type of atmosphere here.
Anything else you would like to add that I may have missed?
I’d just like your readers to know it’s cheaper to make your own beer than to buy it. For example the Belgium Tripel, the kit and ingredients cost about $50, but it’s well over $300 to buy the beer already made. It’s cheaper to brew your own bottle than to buy it.
Mullin told us a customer started up a Facebook page for the store, but he suggested checking out their main website for the latest info and news. The store’s website is also best for contact and location information. Read about the store on Yelp and Beer Advocate. You can see pics of the shop and some of Mullin’s work on Facebook.
Thanks to Brett Mullin for his time. It’s the advice of Brew Jersey for everyone interested to check out Brew Your Own Bottle at 162 Haddon Ave in Westmont, NJ. www.brewyourownbottle.com