Brew Camp: A Mind-Expanding Homebrew Destination

By Karl Klockars | Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Brew Camp store seen from the street. Photo from store owners.

Chicago has seen homebrew stores before, but not one like Brew Camp. Not just content to provide grains, hops and yeast to area homebrewers and craft beermakers alike, owners Jared Saunders and Whit Nelson want to digitally evangelize their decades of homebrew knowledge as well.

Sure, the store will be happy to sell you bags of barley and recipe kits for your favorite beer styles, but they also want the Brew Camp website to be just as much a part of your experience as the brew itself. “The educational area [of the website] is what we’re really excited about.  Everyone’s talking about making beer, but it’s a little mystical to people.” says Saunders.

The pair plan to create and host videos about beer-brewing basics like sanitizing, tasting, as well as taking people through the entire beer-making process. They also plan to hold classes about homebrewing and (hence the name) brewing camps in a nearby backyard. Potential future plans include partnering with other local stores to bring brewing into the cooking process, as well as with local brewers to build special homebrew kits.

While the craft beer community in Chicago is growing by leaps and bounds daily, the plans behind Brew Camp go back nearly a decade. “Sketches of our logo go back 8 or 9 years,” Saunders says. “When we started the company, we didn’t realize how big the scene was.  This is my passion and it’s something I’ve been dreaming of doing for years.”

“If we do our job well, this isn’t going to be a fad. This is going to stick around.”

BrewCamp - 2039 W. Belle Plaine St., off Lincoln Ave. north of Irving Park Rd. (888) 898-2739 - Hours: Thurs. – Sat. noon to 6:00 p.m.

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