Tell us about yourself and Port Stephens Brew Shop?
Port Stephens Brew Shop helps people make great craft beer, cider, spirits, American-style BBQ, cheese and wine at home. We’ve lived in Port Stephens for over 10 years with our 2 kids. Stu used to work in law enforcement in a job that had him away at sea for 4 weeks at a time. About 4 years ago the whole family decided that it was time for him to have a change. He quit his job and fate led us to turn his hobby for homebrew into a business when we purchased Newcastle Brew Shop at the end of 2018. Soon after we opened a second store at Taylors Beach. We now have 3 stores, Newcastle, Port Stephens and Hunter Valley and have recently rebranded to Noble Barons Home Brew Supply stores. Home to the world’s most delicious hobbies, our shops stock a full range of home brewing, fermenting and smoking supplies and equipment, from the basics right through to premium gear and all the ingredients you need to make great home brew beer. Our team all brew themselves, they love a chat and sharing their knowledge and help our customers to rule their craft.
Is it difficult to make your own beer and how long is it before I can drink homemade beer?
Anyone can make great craft beer at home, it’s easy and doesn’t take as long as you might think.
Put those ideas of your Dad tinkering around in the back shed making very average beer in the back of your mind, Whatever your favourite craft or commercial beer is, you can make it at home for a fraction of the price in just 30 minutes a week. You can make any beer you want, with plenty of recipe kits and ideas on the market, you’ll be saving money, having fun and learning a new skill. Most people start with extract kits and fresh wort kits and a basic starter kit which has everything you need to put down your first brew. Like every hobby there are plenty of toys you can upgrade to to create your own craft brewery at home. How quickly you can drink your beer depends on whether you are kegging or bottling your beers. Kegging has a higher set up cost, but will have you drinking your beer in just over 2 weeks. If you’re bottling, while you can drink it within 4 weeks of bottling, you’ll get a better result if you leave it to condition for 2-3 months in the bottle.
What are the main things you have learnt about your business and/or customers through the Covid pandemic? Did you need to pivot the way you did business in any way?
We learnt that beer is essential! With extra time at home a lot of people either got back into brewing or took up a new hobby. As a business we were very fortunate during the pandemic. We did still have to pivot and provide new ways for our customers to purchase from us. We were already working on upgrading our online store and website, we now have a full ecommerce store set up, with ‘click and collect’ and local delivery available. Education and community is really important to our customers. During COVID we couldn’t spend time in store talking with our customers, answering their questions and helping them to troubleshoot problems with their brews – so we started doing Facebook lives to allow us to interact with them. These have been really successful and we continue to do them to connect with our customers.
What do you love about being part of the business community in Port Stephens and why did you choose to be a member of BPS?
We love the diversity of business in the Port Stephens area. It’s amazing the variety and type of businesses, many tucked away, working hard doing interesting things. We became members of Business Port Stephens to connect with other businesses in the area and to support the business community.
What do you like doing during your down time?
Make beer of course. Weekends are often spent with a brisket on the smoker and a beer brewing in the Grainfather. We also love getting outdoors and exploring our backyard, 4WDing, bushwalking or hanging at the beach or just hanging with friends. Stu has an itch to go back to sea, he’d love a boat – boat, if anyone wants to take him fishing, give us a call.
Shout out to your favourite businesses: where do you find yourself eating and shopping here in Port Stephens?
Our mate Lyle at The Nook Espresso keeps us caffeinated. We don’t have office space in our stores so our admin and marketing team work from Spark Cowork. We love a ‘breakfast meeting’ at Little Nel or Zenith at Shoal Bay and Shoal Bay Diner is a family favourite for their gluten free burgers.