Northern Brewer Review
Northern Brewer is the biggest name in online home brew supplies. The company is based out of Saint Paul, Minnesota. They started as a brick and mortar local home brew shop before expanding into ecommerce. Part of Northern Brewer’s expansion included the purchase of Midwest Supplies in 2013. This acquisition merged the number 1 and number 2 online home brew stores.
Northern Brewer first opened its doors in 1993. Chris Farley started the company and remains the CEO to this day. He got his start by working for the James Page Brewery for nine months after the college. Founding Northern has literally been his only other job. I’m putting this in the impressive / damn lucky category.
Over the years, the company has expanded numerous times. Mail order catalogs were introduced in the mid-90s. The website went online in 2005.
Education is an area that sets Northern Brewer apart from the competition. They offer the most complete home brewing videos on the Web. Their site also contains an expansive knowledgebase and widely used forum. Every company knows that educating the consumer is a smart long term play. Unfortunately, many companies abandon the strategy in pursuit of more immediate gains. Northern Brewer has stuck to their guns and the consumer has benefited. In addition to the free information, they also have a huge assortment of educational books, DVD’s, and software. Retail locations host in-store classes.
(If you are looking for the best home brewing software, look at Beersmith 2)
Selection and price are the two main attributes that make Northern Brewer stand out. They have a great variety of grains and extracts, but the equipment they offer is what really makes them stand out. Many companies have decent beginner home brew kits. No company has the depth of intermediate and advanced equipment offered by Northern. Much of this equipment is custom built. Many additional products are only sold to home brew stores with brick and mortar locations, like Northern. The resulting selection makes them a great resource for brewers at all levels.
Wine making is another huge category. The selection isn’t as extensive, but much of this has to do with the fact that wine making tends to be a more straight forward process (at least for amateurs). Northern Brewer sells everything you need to make excellent wine.
Cider, mead, and cheese making are also big categories on the site. I’ve oddly never had a desire to make my own cheese. Maybe that is because it can’t get me drunk.
The majority of items qualify for $7.99 flat rate shipping. It is slightly annoying that exclusions apply to heavy items, like C02 tanks and several gallon wine making ingredient kits. International shipping is not available. Standard shipping options in the lower 48 include UPS ground, 3 day select, 2nd day air, and next day if you are really jonesing. Shipping to Hawaii and Alaska is available. Delivery estimates range from 6 to 10 business days for these regions.
Customer support is available from 9am-6pm CST Monday through Friday. Support on Saturday is available from 9am-5pm CST.
- Order Line 800-681-2739
- Technical Support 651-291-8849
- E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Nothern Brewer has three brick and mortar locations. The Minneapolis location is at 6021 Lyndale Ave S. The Stain Paul shop is at 1150 Grand Avenue. Milwaukee also has a store at 1306 S 108th St.