Is it safe to order homebrew supplies online? Definitely, as long as you take some precautions. The internet has been a fast and effective way for people to buy brewing supplies when there is no local brewshop available. Most beer-making guides suggest you drive to your local shop and pick up the needed equipment and ingredients, which leaves many people utterly lost. Where to find a local brewshop? Is there even one within driving distance? Does it have the selection I need? Do they have everything right there, or will they have to special order something? What if there is only one shop in my area, and I just plain don’t like the people that run it? Not only is the internet a great source for exotic ingredients and unusual supplies, you can also comparison shop and find the best deals available.
Of course, like any other product in the world, you will need to use common sense and sound judgment before making a purchase. There are a few different ways to tell if a supplier is honest and legitimate. The internet is huge, and there are a near infinite number of people selling any given item. Should you buy from the site with the lowest prices? The one with the free shipping? How you decide?
Since you’re here, you’re already on the internet. Take a stroll to your favorite search engine, and look up something like “homebrewing basics.” Find homebrewing sites put up by real people who have names and actually brew beer. Odds are some of those sites will have links to online vendors that they have had good experiences with. You can also find homebrewing forums where you can introduce yourself and ask other people where they buy their stuff. You can learn who has had issues with returns, broken equipment, or other bad experiences with certain web stores. Get some informed opinions, learn where other people buy their stuff, and make your choice. Rather than going through trial and error, try to learn from people who have been there and done that. You might make some friends, get some good tips, or even find other homebrewers in your own area.
If you’re looking for more specific information, go ahead and search for that. Type “buying hops online” into your favorite search engine, and look for posts on those homebrewing forums. If you do have a local homebrewing store, feel free to take notes on their prices and then compare with the online sources you have found. Don’t forget to take shipping costs into account when calculating the best value.
Any online store you buy from should have a good reputation with the internet homebrewing community. These stores will have return policies, good customer service, and probably even a friendly person you can call or email with questions. The people that run these stores are usually avid homebrewers themselves, and want to share their hobby. You probably don’t want to take a chance with a web store that no one has ever heard of or bought from before. Even if their prices are the lowest, you are likely to have the best experience with a reliable store even if something goes wrong with your order.