Erica Shea and Stephen Valand don’t run a homebrew shop. They prefer the term “beer making,” evidenced by the many beer- making kits and beer-making mixes sold in their online store, Brooklyn Brew Shop (brooklynbrewshop.com).
The online shop, which started with a stand at the Brooklyn Flea in 2009, currently carries more than 20 beer-making kits, each complete with everything you need to make your first 1-gallon batch of beer at home. In addition, dozens of beer-making mixes are sold so at-home beer makers can continue brewing future batches of new recipes.
Beer mixes and kits include classics like the Everyday IPA and Afternoon Wheat, trendy recipes like New England IPA and Unicorn IPA, as well as collaborations with such professional brands as BrewDog, Evil Twin, and Stillwater.
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In 2016, Shea and Valand, who are married, launched a second arm of their business, FarmSteady, which sells fermentation-friendly projects for DIY food fans to make their own kraut, pickles, and cheese.
The beer- and food-loving couple sat down to answer VinePair’s Lucky Sevens questionnaire. Like many things in life for this duo, they opted to answer the questions together.
1. What’s your desert-island beer?
If we get stuck on an island, we’re not bringing beer. We’re bringing some bags of grain and brewing it ourselves. And when the grain runs out, we’re foraging whatever tropical treats we can find and fermenting those. We’ll drink well on that island.
2. What’s the beer that made you fall in love with beer?
After years of just ordering whatever was new at beer bars, there was one beer that finally made us say, “Oh. I totally get this.” It was maybe 12 years ago, and it was our Grapefruit Honey Ale. Adding in grapefruit peel and some wheat made us understand how you could really make a beer your own. And once we were able to crack open the black box of understanding what actually goes into beer, we were hooked.
3. FMK three beer types: IPA, pilsner, sour?
4. You’re on death row. What’s your last supper beer?
Our last beer on Earth would have to be something tried and true. We’re not taking any risks, so give us a bottle of Cantillon with some creamy, unpasteurized cheese, a little jam, and at least two baguettes.
5. You can only drink one beer for the rest of your life. What is it?
If we had to choose one beer for the rest of time, we’d go with a Kolsch. It’s been around for more than a century, relatively unchanged while the greater craft beer world experiences seismic shifts around it. Plus, a proper Kolsch can go with just about any food.
6. What’s the best and worst beer in your fridge right now?
Worst: Whenever we have a bunch of people over, you never know what beers might show up. So we always end up with some random 6-packs that languish at the back of our fridge for months. Often they’re random German-style lagers that are made to look as though they’re from a storied European brewery but are just some made-up brand you’ve never heard of, and certainly no German person is aware of. Those beers might not taste great, but they’re perfect for cooking.
7. If you could no longer drink beer, what would be your beverage of choice?