Above: The Brew Shop, which features portraits of craft beer royalty, is in an old church.
As a lifetime Lower Mainland resident, I am no stranger to cross-border shopping. When the Canadian dollar is doing well, there are bargains to be had. When the dollar isn’t so great, there is still variety and access to goods not available in BC.
I have often purchased brewing equipment, ingredients, and chemicals south of the border. Washington and Oregon have some great homebrew shops. Homebrew stores often have a bottle shop, and bottle shops sell homebrew supplies. Convenient. And bonus: Oregon doesn’t have sales tax. Here are some of my favourite stores to explore when travelling south of the line.
THE BREW SHOP
Years ago, on a trip to Lone Pine, California, we passed through Bend, Oregon and stopped at this bottle store to stock up for the next few days. They had a ton of homebrew gear and ingredients, as well as an amazing selection of beer. The Brew Shop has since changed locations and expanded the retail space. The new location is in an old church. Above the coolers organized by geographic region hangs a beautiful painting of Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of brewing, sipping a glass and watching you browse. The room features portraits of Craft Beer Movement royalty: Michael Jackson, Charlie Papazian, Fred Eckhardt and Don Younger. The people who work in The Brew Shop are very friendly and helpful. They had some interesting powder-coated small kegs that attracted me, along with a great selection of dry yeast.
In the basement is the Platypus Pub, with a well-curated beer list and pub grub. Whenever I visit, the proprietor brings me samples of the beers he thinks I might find interesting. It’s a super-friendly and welcoming place.
1203 NE Third Street, Bend, Oregon 97701
Hillsboro is west of Portland; you’ll pass through if you head towards Oregon wine country. Main Brew’s 4,000-square-foot warehouse space feels a bit overwhelming at first. They have an extensive selection of supplies and equipment for making beer, wine, mead, kombucha, and cheese. I was impressed with the selection of crown caps in many colours.
Next door is the ABV pub with 32 taps and over 700 bottles in coolers. They fill growlers as well. You can grab lunch and pick up supplies for brew day, plus the food is good.
5670 NE Clara Lane, Hillsboro, OR 97124
Not far from Main Brew is a smaller homebrew shop where I purchased my roller mill and some sanitizer. Brew Brothers has San-Stuff which is significantly cheaper than another comparable sanitizer. They have opened a brewery called Three Mugs Brewing Co in the same building, and Vertigo Brewing is only minutes down the street. These guys had the best price on the mill I wanted, and it was in stock. I bought more than I had intended.
2020 NW Aloclek Drive, Suite 108, Hillsboro, OR 97124
YAKIMA VALLEY HOPS
While in Yakima for Hop and Brew School, we stopped by a local shop to pick up some hops and hop extracts before heading home. They have hop-shots, 3-ml or 10-ml syringes of hop extract: cheap and easy bittering. They also offer hop hash for those making hazy IPA. It’s a nice store with a very helpful and friendly staff, an amazing selection of local hops and hop products as well as equipment, supplies, books, and apparel. They even sell rhizomes. It’s not in tax-free Oregon, but it’s definitely worth it.
702 N 1st Ave, Yakima, WA 9890
If you know of any other noteworthy stores or have any suggestions for what you would like to read about in this column, please send me an email at [email protected]. Now get out there and find what you need to make some beer!