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Why do "homebrewers" treat Mr. Beer users like pariah?

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Here's a question I felt deserved some light shed on it.  I went to my local LHBS to pick up some hops for something I decided to "create" with some Mr. Beer ingredients I had on hand.  Seeing this is the only LHBS in the area, it usually is quite packed as I live in Vermont and practically everyone here brews their own.  With this being my 7th batch, I have built enough confidence thinking I have a bit of a clue as to what I'm doing.  When I said that I only needed a half ounce of pelleted hops, I was asked why so little.  I replied because I'm only brewing 2 gallons.  At that point, the guy nodded and said "oh, ok...as long as it isn't for that Mr. Beer $h!t" and laughed.  A few others overheard him, started laughing, and made a few comments.  Some were "syrup that's made for soda machines, Fisher-Price for wannabe beer makers, and the state assistance program for home brewers."  Why the hate?  What I've brewed, my friends, family, and I have enjoyed.  Does this have anything to do with the simplicity of the process or the use of no grains?  Could it be that I live in Vermont and was surrounded by elitist hipsters (often the case)?  Feel free to give your insight on this one, I've already teed it up.

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Well they're doofuses to start.  Second all grain brewers take pride in their extra efforts, as they should. While I haven't had your experience I do know that ay my LHBS there are a lot fewer extract brewers than all grain.  So there is a little superiority in numbers.  When it comes down to it it's just a gear-head mentality.

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Jealousy, pure and simple.  :)

 

I wouldn't be doing any business with those cretins if I had any other choice.  They act like boiling LME/DME for an hour with hops is some hard, intense activity.  Which is essentially all that the HME that Mr. Beer sells is, making it easier for you.  So what, I can't buy a jar of tomato sauce when I make dinner, I must grow the tomatoes, basil, etc. and make my own or it isn't real cooking?

 

Sure, I can understand an all-grain brewer taking some pride in what they do, but even that isn't rocket science (as attested by my ability to do it now).  If it weren't for Mr. Beer, I wouldn't have even attempted it.  Any dipwad that disrespects them should be ignored.

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I agree it is pretty short sighted of any LHBS to belittle extract brewing.  Those are either current or potential customers.  I don't think i'll ever quit doing extract brewing, I do plan to attempt some AG sometime down the road, but extract is really just a super easy way to make a small amount of beer, with very little time commitment and still be able to enjoy it!  My ideal is some of both.  

 

My LHBS has been pretty helpful.  I was somewhat aware I may get an 'elitist' attitude if I made it known I was extract brewing.  But it turns out they sell extract, and they seem to have the idea that it is a good entry point, and it is best to help people out through that stage.  

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The owner of the first HBS I stepped in after getting my LBK walked me through ways to augment my Mr. Beer start. She never talked smack and in fact was happy to point out some advantages to having an LBK over what they had in the store.

Same with the owners of the Hydroponic/LHBS I shop at. The one doesn't even drink beer but he is very knowledgeable and always willing to help.

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I like the toilet idea, have one in the back yard, bowl is cracked, but the tank will hold water, as long as I can get the rusted stained water lines out..... I cud order the winter dark ale on sale!

 

I wish I had a toilet in the back yard (I wouldn't have to run inside so often).

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LHBS:

 

1) Profit.  Because when you brew with Mr. Beer ingredients, supplied by Mr. Beer, your LHBS makes nothing except for some hops or steeping grains sales maybe.  If they do sell Mr. Beer HMEs, they likely price them too high to make their standard markup.

 

2) Future Customer...  Because that idiot doesn't realize that Mr. Beer is a stepping stone for him to gain a future customer.  He should coddle you.

 

3) Ignorance.  Because he's ill informed.  When I emailed my initial questions to my LHBS, the owner told me that you can ferment in the back of a toilet, it's just a closed recepticle.  He realized he had a future customer (he also sells Mr. Beer and other HMEs, as well as wine making products, and is a large ecommerce seller).  Within 6 months I was buying steeping grains from him, then everything.  Now I buy all my steeping grains and LME there, but my hops and yeast and bottlecaps I buy elsewhere because I can get them cheaper and he focuses on making his margin (versus customer lifetime value).  The Mr. Beer fermenters are just fermenters.  You can put anything in them, including stuff sold at your LHBS.  That guy was ignorant.

 

Homebrewers:

 

1) Ignorance.  Lots of hate for Mr. Beer on forums and in LHBS stores, which comes from ignorance.  People enter Mr. Beer brews in contests and win prices.  If someone did a study, they'd likely find that the ratio of success with new Mr. Beer owners continuing past some time period is higher than those that get all grain kits.  I have a neighbor that made one all grain batch and quit.  He was disappointed with how hard it was - holding temps during the mash, etc.  I explained how I started, and what my current process was.  He tasted some of mine and was astonished at how good they were (all were extract recipes, not Mr. Beer).  But he didn't take me up on my offer to get him re-started.

 

2) History.  Prior to the Cooper's buyout in 2012, Mr. Beer's products contained substantially less malt than they do today.  In comparison, they were noticeably inferior to the standard refills of today, and very noticeably inferior to Craft and Seasonal HMEs.  Directions were much shorter time periods - resulting in much inferior results.  

 

3) Snobs.  If it isn't hard, it must not be good.  

 

If that was a salesperson, and not the owner, consider contacting the owner and telling them of your experience.  If it was the owner, then if you have another store available, frequent it.  

 

Rick pretty much hit every point on the nose. This is also a huge pet peeve of mine. As a former employee and manager of several homebrew supply stores, I can't tell how much this really grinds my gears. If it were my store and my employee said that to a customer, I would have fired him on the spot.

 

The owner of the first HBS I stepped in after getting my LBK walked me through ways to augment my Mr. Beer start.  She never talked smack and in fact was happy to point out some advantages to having an LBK over what they had in the store.

 

Same with the owners of the Hydroponic/LHBS I shop at. The one doesn't even drink beer but he is very knowledgeable and always willing to help.

 

^^^This is how that employee should be treating his customers. Like Rick said, if that was an employee, I would recommend talking with the owner/manager about his attitude. If it was the owner/manager, I would recommend shopping elsewhere. Homebrewing should be all-inclusive. It doesn't matter what kit you're using or what method you're using. All that matters is that you're making beer. If an employee of a homebrew shop can't help you without insulting your methods, he should find another job. And preferably NOT in customer service.

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Countering ignorance with inferiority complex isn't exactly ideal either. As a grown man I find it hard for me to be offended by much so I don't understand a lot of what is being said on BOTH sides of the conversation. Conversely I will say that some people are ok with the simplicity of extract and some want a little more complexity and control over their brew. Again, as a grown man I don't care what other people like... I just brew my own.

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Everyone needs to start somewhere. If It wasn't for the Mr. Beer kit I might've not even been interested as the whole process seemed overwhelming to me.

I've been reading a lot on all grain brewing and also watching some videos. Still seems confusing at the moment. Well that and I can't afford a rig for all grain yet.

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I've been reading a lot on all grain brewing and also watching some videos. Still seems confusing at the moment. Well that and I can't afford a rig for all grain yet.

Brew in a bag is a great way to ease into it. I'm going to make another batch of wheat beer on Monday. I will post a how to in case you want to check it out. You don't need much more than what you already have except a 5+ gallon kettle, brew bag and large strainer.

What I usually do is split the batch into 2 2.5 gallon batches and adjust hops as needed. Only adds about an hour to brew day.

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The elitist snobbery isn’t limited to homebrew supply stores.  I had a similar experience with a local bicycle shop. I went in to buy some inner tubes and the guy at the counter asked me what kind of bike it was for.  I told him it was a Schwinn and he said:   “Oh is it one of those department store bikes?”  He then lost all interest in selling me anything and I left thinking too bad buddy you just lost a potential good customer.

 

In my opinion good beer is good beer.  It doesn’t matter how it was made.   If you try an all grain brew and think it is better than anything you’ve ever made by extract brewing then you might want to give it a try.  If you think your extract brews are excellent, then why waste your time and money re-inventing your beer.

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Brew in a bag is a great way to ease into it. I'm going to make another batch of wheat beer on Monday. I will post a how to in case you want to check it out. You don't need much more than what you already have except a 5+ gallon kettle, brew bag and large strainer.

What I usually do is split the batch into 2 2.5 gallon batches and adjust hops as needed. Only adds about an hour to brew day.

Time is about the only thing I can really afford at the moment. Hence the reason why all the beer I've brewed to this point has been whatever is on sale. Be out Mr. Beer or ingredients at my LHBS.

As I tell my wife: I work to hard to be this poor.

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I didn't read everyone's answers (I'll go back and read shortly), but in my experience, a lot of this comes from old/bad information in a couple of fashions.  One, some people probably tried Mr. B in its early years, and I'd contend that the ingredients have come a long way since then.  Two, I speculate that a lot of people started out with Mr. B kits, made one batch, had a bad experience (likely due to process...  time and/or temps and/or cleanliness and/or "throw a bunch of sugar or waffles or something in" recipes and/or because it was the first time they ever brewed anything), and have a sour opinion based on that.  I would speculate that if I went back and did the exact same recipes with the exact same ingredients that I first used back in '09, I'd make a much better beer now simply based on expertise on handling time/temps/cleanliness.  I'd have to go to that other company to prove that hypothesis exactly, but I guess I could state that I've used similar new Mr. B ingredients from the contest winnings and proved that very point.

 

Also, I think the scale of the fermenters and the "cutesiness" of the LBK barrels.  Some object simply because you can make 5 gallons in the same time that you make 2.  Some see it as a toy that can be purchased at retail stores or on Woot, instead of the "real" equipment that you get at an LHBS.  

 

Finally, some of it is all-grain bias, though their ire seems less for LHBS sourced LME than Mr. B LME (but it's still there for any extract brewing from some people).

 

IMHO, you can make good beer in any kind and size of fermenter as long as you practice good process.  The LBK is simply a fermenter.  You can put good wort into it by extracts or all-grain processes, and can get good beer out of it if you are disciplined, just the same as if you use a carboy or bucket from the LHBS, and just the same if you use a food safe bucket from Home Depot (which I do).  Of course, you can also get shite beer out of the LBK.  You can also get shite beer out of big fermenters.  Same goes for AG v. extracts...  good (or bad) beer can come from either.  Me?  I like AG, and have been doing it for 5 years or so.  I like the "start-to-finish" of it, much like baking a cake from scratch instead of buying a Betty Crocker kit.  I like being able to adjust flavors and styles by changing what grains and what mash temps and what hop boils.  But, I also know that Mr. B got me started, and will defend it to anyone.

 

Anytime I've gone into an LHBS to get ingredients for a small batch, I've never really mentioned Mr. B as it wasn't really pertinent.  My LHBS sells fermenters of all sizes...  1/3/5/7 gallons, so they get scaled down recipe requests all the time.  Even when I moved to AG, I for the most part still do 2.5-3 gallon batches.  That all being said, it shouldn't be an issue to tell them that you are using Mr. B.  There should be no shame in it.  Many got their start with this same style of equipment and ingredients.  If an LHBS wanted to make comments to me about it, I'd tell them to sod off and I would go down the road to another LHBS (luckily I have a few options in town) or I'd order from an OHBS.

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There are also some great breweries out there such as Black Bottle, Dragoon, and many others with Brewmasters that had their start with Mr. Beer.

 

Hell,  Jamil, the owner/brewer at Heretic who is widely acknowledged as a homebrewing legend, started with Mr. Beer.  Charlie started with extracts as well.  

 

[soapbox]People who can't just let people do what they like suck.  If you brew beers that you like with the process you use, then you are doing it right.  Sure...  experiment and expand your process if you want, but don't rain on other people's parade if they are content with what they are doing...  [/soapbox]

 

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When I took my Mr Beer kit to a American Home Brewers Assoc. Brew in at a local Craft Brewery, I got no real bad comments at all. I explained how easy it was and let them try samples. 

The samples were all loved and appreciated, even by folks from the brewery we were at. 

I was doing a steep of grain for a collaboration recipe at the time too not just a plain brew so that may have helped :-).

Still good as the Mr B recipes are, I think a well done whole grain brew will be better, but a badly done one will not be as good. 

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I've been to a local homebrew store several times and have never had any issues with being a Mr. Beer brewer.  They've been overly helpful.  They don't sell Mr. Beer products, but they do sell Cooper's cans of HMEs and LMEs as well as some other brands.  The cans they sell are for 5 gallon batches.  They've talked with me over all kinds of ideas about using the HME cans for 5 gallons in my LBK at creating something still drinkable.  It's given me some ideas although I haven't bought any of their HMEs yet.  I have bought empty 12 oz bottles, sanitizer, bottle caps and a hand capper from them.

 

How they've treated me seems to make good business sense.  They sell me a few things now, but they keep the door open if I want to expand my beer-making efforts down the road.

 

Your experience at the homebrew store in Vermont stumps me.  A customer today (no matter how insignificant) is a potential bigger customer in the future.  It's rude besides being bad business.  Just buy your hops online and avoid them since they don't appreciate you.

 

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If you think your extract brews are excellent, then why waste your time and money re-inventing your beer.

More often than not all grain is cheaper than extract not just in short term but long term. It might take a $100 to start up but it does pay for itself. Especially if buying in bulk. A lot of recipes use 2 row as a base. If, over the course of a few brews, you buy rahr 2-row at $1.79/lbs it will cost you ~$90. Buying 2-row in a 50lb sack cost ~$35. Where pale malt syrup is about $3/lbs. But I digress.

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