The storefront that houses Westchester Homebrew Emporium in New Rochelle (550 North Ave, 914-637-2337, beerbrew.com) used to be a pharmacy, and there’s still something of the modern apothecary about it. Without frills, with plain white walls, clinical lighting, goods arrayed on wire racks, the shop’s most prominent decorative fixture is the dozens of homebrewing prize ribbons displayed behind the register—all won by store manager Phil Clarke, Jr.
Open since Halloween, Westchester Homebrew Emporium is the fifth and latest addition to the mostly family-owned mini-chain, which has locations in upstate New York and Massachusetts. Since 1984, the Emporium has been outfitting homebrewers with equipment and ingredients, from all-in-one ingredients kits and five-gallon starter brewing equipment to bags of hops, malt, yeast, priming sugar, liquid flavors, and add-ins like licorice root (with special order available). There’s a healthy selection of winemaking kits, along with a variety of honey for meadmaking. If you’re feeling peckish, pick up a cheese-making kit to go with your DIY brews.
Look for brewing classes coming soon to the Emporium, and, if this is your first plunge into beer brewing, drop by to get some advice from Clarke, Jr., who has 18 years of homebrewing experience, and founded the Westchester Homebrewers Organization. For one: Use an all-in-one kit for the first half-dozen times you brew. After that, try experimenting with new ingredients for different flavor profiles. Says Clarke, Jr.: “If you can make Hamburger Helper, you can brew beer.”