Capital City Homebrew Supply is a local supply company owned by Todd Branstner, specializing in helping people develop their passion for brewing beer and fermenting wine. CCHS opened in 2012 and is committed to helping others become their own brewers.
Branstner says that the key to a successful homebrew business is to understand that you can’t expect to have a lot of customers over night. His goal is to build ‘young professionals’.
“The most important thing from a business perspective is to build your clientele,” said Branstner. “Customer service is important. A lot of our customers are former Michigan State students. Our goal is to make a good impression with our customers and get them to become better brewers.”
Jordan Artuso, the general manager of CCHS has been with the company since it opened.
“It’s a friendly business,” said Artuso. “After I did communications in the army, I wanted to do something I loved, something that was fun.”
Artuso got into brewing beer and believes it is a rewarding career. Over time, Artuso got better and better at making his own beer and has made a career out of it.
“It became a real hobby for me,” said Artuso. “I got into it and felt like I could do something I loved, and help a lot of people get into brewing their own beer.
Aside from brewing their own beer and wine, CCHS offers sample classes and beginning brew classes for beer and wine twice a month. CCHS also has advanced equipment like refractometers which help you measure beer level. As a supply company, they want to sell their products, but they want to do it while educating their customers.
Artuso agrees that helping people make their own beer is a key to their business. The bi-weekly classes CCHS offers helps customers discover how to make the brewing process easier and more efficient.
“We get a lot of people that bring in their own beer,” said Artuso. “They’ll say that they made this beer, and they want us to try it and see what we think. We try to help everyone get better at brewing beer.”
Jason Horrocks, a regular customer of CCHS, says that Artuso played a huge role in his appreciation for brewing.
“I started brewing this summer,” said Horrocks. “A lot of it was because of this store. These guys are passionate about what they do. I liked beer enough to see how it was made. I found out that it’s really easy to make good beer.”
Horrocks said that because of CCHS, he is going to brew his own beer for his wedding this upcoming summer.
Artuso believes that brewing your own beer is better than going to a bar and getting beer.
“A lot of times the kegs at the bar have been sitting there for a couple months,” said Artuso. “It’s hard to find fresh beer at a bar, but if you know how to brew your own beer, you can find out that it’s really easy to make your own. It tastes great and you get a great value out of how much it costs to make good beer.”
Branstner says that he made a Belgian-style beer that cost only $23 to make a five-gallon batch. This cCompares to a microbrew that could cost that much for a few glasses at a restaurant or bar .
“The key with IPAs and Pale Ales is freshness,” said Branstner. “We have over thirty different hops. When you make your own beer like we do, you’re able to enjoy it at its peak freshness.”
Artuso has found enjoyment in brewing beer and wine and wants to help others find the same passion he has for brewing.
“Brewing your own beer can be an overwhelming process,” said Artuso. “We try to show people that once you know how to brew your own beer, it’s something you can really enjoy doing.”
Brewing your own beer can be something you can put in a lot of time in, or a little time in depending on how much you want to put into it. Branstner’s CCHS helps brewers at all levels.
“Formulating recipes, ingredients, even small questions,” said Branstner. “This business is here to help people with making their own beer.”
— Jacque De Witt