Home Brewing at the Fermented Food and Beverage Supply Shop

When you’re done steeping your specialty malts, you should squeeze the bag to get every bit of liquid out, right? Maybe, maybe not. Eric Schmehl, proprietor of Fermented Food and Beverage Supply Shop in Hammonton, has some definite thoughts on the subject. And at his Home Brewing 101 class, you’ll hear all about it.

Home Brewing 101 a  the Fermented Food and Beverage Supply Shop, by Pete Culos, Jersey Bites

Schmehl seems like a quiet, laid-back type—until he starts talking about beer, that is. The guy really knows his stuff. He’s an avid home brewer and serves as president of the Brew Jersey Home Brew Club.To be clear, he’s got more than just amateur experience: Schmehl has been involved with nearby Tomfoolery Brewing and Vinyl Brewing—more on that one later. (Side note: Hammonton is quite a beer-centric town. Three 3’s Brewing is also located there, giving the little hamlet a total of three breweries and a home brew store. I may have to check out real estate there.)

The Store

The store itself is a neatly arranged mix of equipment and ingredients for all kinds of fermentation projects.  Besides the usual assortment of malt extracts, yeast, grains, and hops, Fermented also stocks a wide range of starter cultures. With their help you can make your own kombucha, yogurt, cheese and a much more. Kefir? They have a culture for that, too (and a workshop on April 28!). Besides the shelves full of goodies, they also sell knowledge. That’s what brought me there.

The Process

Ok, I already know how to make beer and have done on-premises brewing many times. I’m familiar with the extract brewing process that Schmehl demonstrates in his Home Brewing 101 class. Extract brewing is basically a shortcut. You steep your specialty malt just long enough to impart flavor and color, but the vast majority of fermentable sugar comes in the form of extract. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same process as all grain brewing. The class was an intimate setting of about a dozen people who ranged from the curious to the novice home brewer. It was a little deeper of a dive than a simple “here’s step one, here’s step two,” though. Schmehl explained some more technical aspects, such as original versus final gravity, attenuation, and points per pound per gallon (PPG). I picked up quite a few new knowledge points and really enjoyed the home brew samples Schmehl passed around while his demo brew boiled. If you’re at all curious about the brewing process, it’s a very worthwhile two-and-a-half to three hours.

After Class

Once class was over, we did what many a college student does: we went for a beer. (With three breweries in town, it would be tough to leave without trying at least one.) The recently opened Vinyl Brewing was the closest—it’s actually on the same road. The tap room sports the semi-industrial, minimalist chic that seems to work well for breweries. Two large garage doors in front and a large imposing bar complete the look. After the brief, mandatory (ugh!) brewery tour, it was time to taste some beer.

At Vinyl, if you can’t find something that interests you then you just don’t like beer. Saison? Check. (Or a sour saison, if you’re into that). Hophead? You can have your IPA dank, fruity, or with actual fruit—your choice. Like ’em dark? There’s a milk stout and an excellent rye porter for you. When was the last time you encountered an English mild? Yeah, it’s been a while. They seem to be able to pull off this wide range of styles very well. The harried staff was super friendly, as was the clientele. I even gained a new Untapped friend! (Cheers, Gary!) As the weather warms up, and those garage doors open up, a trip back will be a definite for me. Plus, I’ve got two more breweries in town to explore.


Fermented Food and Beverage Supply Shop
You can follow Fermented Food and Beverage on Facebook to keep up with classes and events.

900 Route 54, Suite A-4
Hammonton, NJ 08037

Wed to Saturday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sun: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hours are subject to change.

Vinyl Brewing
300B 12th Street
Hammonton, NJ 08037

Thursday: 4 .p.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday: 4  p.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday: 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Hours are subject to change.