Brew Your Own Bottle serves South Jersey home brewer’s needs

Photo courtesy of Brett Mullin, Brew Your Own Bottle 

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.

Photo courtesy of Brett Mullin on right.

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

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The Pour House has the best deal for local craft beer on Saturdays in South Jersey

Every Saturday, The Pour House in Westmont, NJ, which is one of the best craft beer bars in South Jersey, serves two local brewery beer specials. The Saturday specials are for Cherry Hill’s Flying Fish drafts for $2.50 and Philly’s Yards bottles and drafts for $3. You can follow their Facebook page and Twitter feed to find out more about their great specials and to get the latest news. PJ’s Pour House is owned by the same folks who brought us PJ Whelihan’s Pub’s. The Pour House has a better beer selection and is definitely more geared for the craft beer lover than Whelihan’s.

Their beer menu is updated with different drafts constantly. Bottles remain fairly standard, but amazingly varied. They have several events and specials per month with a three year anniversary party coming on March 15th. They always have games on and there are plenty of places to sit with the family to have a meal. I prefer the bar, but get there early because it fills up fast. Read more on what people are saying about The Pour House on Yelp.

Home brewing alive and well in South Jersey

The craft beer explosion isn’t the only beer phenomenon happening in the South Jersey and Philadelphia area. Home brewing has also taken off. Home brew shops are popping up in the area, and the people who want their own tastes are taking part. Home brewing classes, meet-ups and clubs are starting to spring up in the area as well. There is a great blog entry I recommend my readers take advantage of. It’s a wife’s guide to home brewing and yes, it’s written by a South Jersey resident. Not only are people writing and talking about home brewing. New Jersey politicians are passing new laws about home brewing as well. The latest law states residents no longer need a permit in order to brew at home.

Home brewing has a cult feel to it as many of the home brewers feel a certain kinship with other brewers while they have plenty to talk about and share. “There is a level of friendly competition” said Sean Fazen of Woodstown, NJ. Fazen, started brewing in his kitchen three years ago. “Many of us have questions for each other about different techniques we want to try. A lot of the people I have met are at a different levels of brewing so it’s a community of brewers helping each other out.”  Fazen has made 12 different brews in the three years since he started, and it’s a labor of love. “Some of my brews have been great, and I was quite surprised at the flavors I got. Some of the others I’ve done are the more challenging brews and they still need some work, but it’s a game of trial and error.”

Not everyone feels the same way however. Pitman, NJ resident John Gallagher has been home brewing for only two years, but has a different view on the matter. “I want my beers to be better than my friends that also brew,” said Gallagher. “I want mine to be better than the people I meet that brew.” Gallagher has brewed eight kinds of beers in his two years, but sees it as more than just a drink between friends. “I would like people to taste my beer and be like, Wow, how did you get that to taste so good or are you sure you brewed this?” Gallagher has been successful in his brewing so far and wants to take it further. “I want to start to brew larger batches and see how it will be to with work and bigger and better equipment.” Both agree that, “It’s a great community of people who brew. You have instant conversation topics once you meet another brewer.”

Magic Hat shows a cool brewing technique on Facebook

This week Burlington, Vermont’s Magic Hat Brewing Company showed an inside look to it’s open fermenter on it’s Facebook page. It already looks good enough to drink. You can find their great beers all over the South Jersey and Philly area. The photo below is directly from their Facebook page. You must be signed into Facebook to view it there.

The open fermenters at Magic Hat Brewing