When last we left our intrepid home vintner, she was contemplating where she would quickly lay her hands on a new hydrometer as the previous on had fallen and shattered on the hard slate kitchen floor.
Brew and Grow
Naturally, she checked at the geekiest store in her neighborhood, American Science and Surplus where they reported that they DID in fact carry hydrometers. However, the version that they carried was better suited to denser liquids such as milk. Alcohol has a lighter density and therefore requires a hydrometer that is capable of being easily be read just above and below the zero (water density mark).
Now Kevin and I were required to head off to winemaking supplies and home brew houses to find a replacement.
One thing that I have observed from home wine and beer making is that the it is typically done by old (and young) hippie types who started by being interested in more than the mass produced beers and wines that were the only kinds available prior to say… 1980. Not to mention there is a certain, “sticking-it-to-the-man” attitude that comes with not paying the ridiculously high “sin” taxes that come with alcoholic beverage. That being said that I thought I would be remiss in not mentioning that to you, my readers, if for some reason you decide to follow that route.
In my neck of the words there are three stores that I know that sell this kind of equipment (reliably).
Chicagoland Winemakers, Inc., is located at 689 W. North Ave. in Elmhurst, Illinois. They carry a full array of supplies for wine, beer and home made soda making. The only problem for me is that they are out in the suburbs which means that I have to wend my way out there which can be tricky traffic wise. The folks at the store are really friendly and can help you find everything you might need and yes, there is that hippie feel.
BevArt Brewer and Winemaking Supplies is located at 10033 S. Western Ave., in Chicago. They carry a full array of wine and beer making supplies including fresh grapes from Chile. Additionally, they offer classes in beer and wine making and is also home to the Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery. Distance is again an issue being at the other end of the City from my house, so to date, I have not been there and can’t reliably tell you that you will get that hippie vibe. Given the fact that they produce mead has a certain Renn-Faire feel to it, so I will stand by my overall philosophy of these stores. I will report more reliably on this store later.
The third store, Brew and Grow wins the hippie contest hands down. Not only do they sell beer and wine making supplies but a large number of hydroponic systems and supplies. And though they run an up and up business it does have a certain cache. In fact, I have been in the store when morons come in asking how to grow pot, which inevitable means some sort of sting operation is afoot. These conversations are ALWAYS closed down quickly and in no uncertain terms.
By proximity to our house Brew and Grow wins every time. Particularly if you need something basic. And this was so for us.