Brewer’s hobby becomes a business venture

  • Tue Aug 21st, 2012 11:10am

By John Wolcott HBJ Freelance Writer

ARLINGTON — After two years of brewing his own beer at home, life-long Arlington resident, farmer and hay hauler Mike Scarsella, 28, was so fascinated with the variety of great tasting beers he could make that he decided to launch Down Home Brew Supply on June 1 to help others discover the same great experiences.

He and his wife, Amy, opened their entrepreneurial venture in Arlington’s Old Town, on Fifth Street.

“We’ve filled a real gap in the local home-brewing market here,” Scarsella said. “Our brewing supply store is the only one between Anacortes and south Everett. I got tired of making a 40-mile trip to Anacortes or south Everett for supplies and other people have had the same problem.”

Already, his business is growing, primarily by word of mouth, he said.

“Our sales have been doubling every month. We’re already about six months ahead of what we expected,” he said.

His market ranges from novices who have never tried brewing their own beer to hundreds of experienced home brewers who need a reliable local source of supplies, including local brewing clubs such as the Beer Renegades of Everett Washington (BREW), Boeing Employees Wine and Beer Makers Club, Greater Everett Brewers League, Northern Washington Homebrewers Guild and, locally, The Stilly Mashers.

Also, word his business has spread through www.wahomebrewers.org, the website of the Washington Homebrews Association.

“We have starter kits for people who’ve never made home brews, plus all the carboys, grains and supplies they need,” said Scarsella, who also offers plenty of free advice and brewing tips. “Brewing beer at home isn’t very complicated and you can get marvelous beer flavors that you can’t buy anywhere. Basically, it involves boiling water, adding sugar, then yeast, letting it ferment and then bottling it.”

Scarsella said he started home brewing as an adventure, then it became a hobby and then a passion and, finally, a business.

The entire wall behind his counter is filled with a variety of more than 50 grains, including heavy peat-smoked malt that makes beer that smells like a campfire, one with robust chocolate caramelized tones and another that tastes like butterscotch.

For beer brewing, he offers grains, hops, yeast, malt extracts, herbs and spices, beer recipe kits and equipment kits, plus instruction books, cleaners and sanitizers. For those who want to make wines, he has fruit wine kits, additives and equipment kits.

Scarsella has created a comfortable, clean, airy store environment that people enjoy visiting, including families and children. There’s an old floor-level grain scale from the late 1800s for a conversation piece; there’s his 27-foot-long honey-oak colored counter finished with an epoxy resin, something worth stopping to see just for the novelty and craftsmanship, and there’s Sadie, the friendly German shorthair bird dog who greets visitors as the store’s mascot.

He participates in downtown Arlington’s 20 percent Super Saturday discounts on the first Saturday of each month and plans to soon offer his entire home-brewing merchandise, including grains and equipment, through his website.

Learn more

For more information, visit Down Home Brew Supply at 116 E. Fifth St., go to www.downhomebrew.com or call 360-403-3259. Sign up for Scarsella’s home-brewing email newsletter at downhomebrew@hotmail.com. Business hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.