DANVILLE, Pa.- Beer distributor Voelcker Beverage is enticing new customers with its expansion of home-brew equipment services.
A recently revised state law now permits Pennsylvania beer distributors to sell more products for home-brewing alcohol, Voelcker owner Marc VanSickle said. It took a few years, but a room was set up in back of the store devoted entirely to the needs of the home-brewing clientele.
"Once they changed the law," VanSickle said, "I figured it would be a good fit."
The new room has not only increased foot traffic, but customers are now coming from farther away because Voelcker's is among the few area stores that sell home-brew products.
Two home-brew aficionados are also on hand every day to assist customers who want to create their dream beer, with Scott Lawvere, a 30-year veteran of the brewing scene, and Larry DeGreen splitting the job.
DeGreen has been home-brewing for eight years, and operated Purple Healer Brewing from his house before closing the company earlier this year. While he won numerous awards for his brews, maintaining the business started becoming an uphill battle, he said. He's happier now that he gets to share his passion with other beer lovers and teach the next generation of brewers.
"This is great, teaching people," DeGreen said.
DeGreen used to drive to Bethlehem to get the supplies he needed for brewing, so he knows the value of Voelcker's new offerings.
These days, "A lot of people are getting into home brew and wine-making," DeGreen said. The home-brew room sells "extract kits," meant for brewers just starting on their own. DeGreen has been assembling a few kits of his own, based on requests from patrons. Many are looking to brew their own version of a honey brown lager, for instance, and an extract kit for that beer was unavailable until DeGreen assembled one himself.
The home-brew room also sells all the equipment, seasonings, flavors, hops and barley needed for people to make their own beer or wine from scratch. DeGreen and Lawvere are also there to answer any questions people might have on the process.
"There's no limit to the questions I've been asked," DeGreen said. "Some are great, some need a little work."
Voelcker's also sells chemicals used to clean brewing equipment after it's been used.
"I can't stress enough how important that is," DeGreen said.
Everything is available to help out beer and wine enthusiasts at any level of brewing.
"It's a fantastic hobby if you haven't done it," DeGreen said. "It's a lot of fun."