The downturn of the oil and gas industry led Preston Brown of Humble to follow his passion for making tasty homemade beer.
The former, 30-year IT director and his wife Mindy opened The Grain Cellar, a brewing supply store, in October 2016 in the Benders Square Shopping Center. Brown said the homebrewing community has been steadily increasing ever since.
“When you brew your own, you can add any flavor you want, and it’s cheaper,” he said. “There’s a craft to it, but if you can make tea, then you can make beer.”
Brown said the key to his business’ success is developing relationships with customers.
“I don’t do the hard sell,” he said. “I would rather have a customer come in, ask questions or come to a free homebrew class to figure out if this is something they want to do.”
Jeffery Griffis of Baytown said he has been a loyal customer since the day the shop opened because of the owner’s personal touch.
“When you come in here, [Brown] always wants to talk to and help you,” said Griffis, a five-year beer, wine and mead brewer. “If you go anywhere else, you’re just wandering around the store and no one is talking to you.”
Brown has not only built relationships with customers, he also promotes camaraderie between homebrew customers.
“I’ve seen CEOs mixing with mechanics, day laborers and blue-collar [people]all relating to each other,” he said. “Homebrewing brings people together.”
In addition to offering a wide variety of supplies, ingredients and equipment for homebrewing, The Grain Cellar also provides customers a seating area with a mounted flat screen TV as well as free 3-ounce tasters and free beer, wine and cheese brewing classes.
“I offer my knowledge freely because this is my forever job, and I’m building a [homebrewer]community Houston-wide,” Brown said. “And I love coming to work every day.”
The Grain Cellar offers a variety of kits for making beer, wine and cheese at home.
- Homebrew beer equipment kit: $83-$150 (two free cases of bottles are included with kit purchases)
- Homebrew wine kits: $20-$250
- Cheese making kits: $35+
- Ingredient kits: $25-$55
The Grain Cellar
240 First St. W., Humble
Hours: Tue. 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Wed.-Fri. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-7 p.m.