Biz Beat: At Brewser’s Homebrew Store in Scotia, passion is part of the recipe

Woman and man smiling and posing in store

Brewser’s Homebrew Store owners Aaron and Danielle Herzog, of Schenectady, inside their store located on Mohawk Ave in Scotia on Friday.

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SCOTIA — Aaron Herzog was in college when a friend first told him about homebrewing.  

It was 2011, and Herzog, then 21, immediately became fascinated with the idea of brewing your own beer, and soon found himself on YouTube searching for how-to videos detailing the process. When he returned home for Thanksgiving break a few weeks later, he told his parents all about what he learned, who in turn purchased him a 2-gallon homebrew kit for Christmas that year.

“That’s when I started my homebrewing journey,” Herzog said.

More than a decade later, Herzog and his wife, Danielle, now operate a small store along Mohawk Avenue in Scotia that sells everything needed to brew high-quality craft beer from the comfort of home, including ingredient packages, bottles of various size, sanitation supplies, yeast and more than 40 types of grain that can be purchased in bulk. There are also items for coffee roasting, winemaking and kits to make cider, hard seltzer, kombucha and even yogurt.

The idea for Brewser’s Homebrew Store (named after the couple’s rambunctious golden doodle) can be traced back to 2018, when the Herzogs noticed a dearth of homebrew supply shops in the region. At the time, there were small stores in Saratoga Springs and East Greenbush, but nothing in Schenectady County, where the couple resides.

“Every time we needed something, we were like, ‘Wow, I wish there was a homebrew store nearby,’” said Danielle Herzog. “Finally we were like, ‘We should be the homebrew store that’s nearby.’”

So, with no prior business experience, the Herzogs scouted a location on Craigslist and opened their own storefront at 37 Mohawk Ave. in February 2020, about three weeks before the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic would force the business to close while the couple was in the process of trying to raise awareness of the store’s existence and establish a customer base.

“We hadn’t even had our grand opening yet,” Danielle said. “It was a tough go in the beginning.”

Today, Brewser’s is just weeks from celebrating its three-year anniversary, and the Herzogs have not only managed to establish a loyal customer base, but hope to expand the shop’s offerings to include classes teaching novice homebrewers everything they need to know.

More: Inside Brewser’s Homebrew Store in Scotia (9 photos)

Prior to starting the business, Aaron, who now runs the day-to-day operations of the store, worked as a pharmacist. Danielle kept her job as an employment specialist, but maintains the shop’s finances and helps set up store displays, which border on scientific and feature glass beakers, growlers and a fixture of antique steins at the rear of the small shop.

“We Googled everything,” Danielle said about learning how to operate a small business.

Craft beer has become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly in New York, which is now home to more than 450 craft breweries, the third most of any state, according to data from the Brewers Association, a not-for-profit trade organization.

Two years ago, SUNY Schenectady County Community College launched a brewery program in hopes of creating a pathway for students to enter into the thriving industry, and relies on Brewser’s to supply homebrew kits used to teach students, according to Aaron, who pointed out the many craft brewers start off making beer from home before venturing into business.

The couple counts Oktoberfest as their favorite style of beer, but the shelves of Brewser’s feature kits for IPAs and pale ales, and include products for more flavorful ventures, like chocolate stouts and berry-infused ales. New England-style IPAs are among the store’s most popular brew kits, but sales vary depending on the season, Aaron said.

Since launching the store, the Herzogs have worked to establish themselves in the homebrewing community, and helped launch the Mohawk Brewer’s Club, which hosts monthly meetings at breweries around the region that attract around a dozen or so individuals who gather to share their own take on a beer of the month or simply stop by to mingle and share brews of their own creation.

The Herzogs have also worked to mesh with the Scotia community, participating in the village’s holiday light display contest (and winning best overall display this past year) and selling products from made by local crafters, like cutting boards and wooden coasters.

More: Inside Brewser’s Homebrew Store in Scotia (9 photos)

Customer service is remains the No. 1 priority, said Aaron, who noted his phone is always on and he’s ready to answer any questions a homebrewer may have.

“My favorite part is working with a customer to come up with a good recipe,” he said.

For more information on Brewser’s Homebrew Store, visit the shop online at: 

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.

Categories: Business, News, News, Schenectady County, Scotia Glenville

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