For perfecting one’s own five-ingredient mixture of hops, barley, malt, yeast and water, the north suburbs are just the place, thanks to Libertyville’s Perfect Brewing Supply.
Nestled in a plan commissioner’s nightmare tract on Park Ave./Route 176, 5 blocks east of Milwaukee Ave., owner Mike Kaepplinger and manager/master brewer Billy Oaks run a retail, service-based business supplying the products and homespun advice needed to brew at home.
“If you do it yourself, you can get a beer you can match that you’d pay $24 a 12-pack for in the store,” Kaepplinger says.
He says most novice brewers can get started with an investment of $100 to $150 for brewing equipment (sold individually or in kits) and $30 to $40 for supplies to make a 5-gallon batch. Experience and following personal recipes drops the cost to about $20 per batch.
“The advantage with us, other than that we’re the only business around that sells the equipment, is that Billy is a master brewer,” Kaepplinger says. “He knows what types of hops to use and what types of yeast to brew.”
The pair offer more than knowledge. They moved to Libertyville from Mt. Prospect more than 3 years ago, bringing with them a friendly passion for their shared avocation that translates to warm hospitality inside their shop. While all the needed brewing supplies are available from them online, a leisurely, in-person visit is highly recommended.
“Go talk to the guys at Perfect Brewing,” replies Brian Grano, owner of Mickey Finn’s brewpub in Libertyville, to a question about brewing at home. “They’ve got everything you need and then some.”
He adds, “It’s a big mess, but if you can make oatmeal, you can absolutely do it. All you really need is a big pot, water, yeast and barley.” And if it doesn’t turn out as desired, there’s a host of north suburban brew pubs that have the process perfected.
In addition to beer-making provisions, Perfect Brewing also offers kits and advice to concoct homemade wine and soda, or roast coffee—the perfect holiday gift for budding beverage hobbyists.