There are hundreds of websites on the Internet that one can buy homebrew beer supplies from. It is always best to avoid the middleman and order direct from the company that makes the product, but often such products as malt, malt extract, hops, and other ingredients are not available direct from the farm or factory in which they are produced (one notable exception is Puterbaugh hops farm in Washington State). These homebrew supplies are the primary ingredients in your beer, so it is a good idea to be discerning with whom you purchase them from.
Buying organic ingredients is a great way to ensure that your beer is going to be good for you and for the world. Organic beer and ingredients are hard to find. There are only a handful of online brew stores that supply organic ingredients. The fastest response and best customer service time I have found from any of these is from our friends over at the Seven Bridges Brewing Cooperative (www.breworganic.com). According to their website, organic grains tend to have a faster fermenting process and also a higher mashing efficiency. Organic grains and malts also tend to produce a clearer beer, as organic grains have less protein content. Of course the best benefit to consuming any kind of organic food or beer is that the ingredients have never been exposed to poisons, chemicals, and toxins present in every aspect of the growth cycle of non-organic ingredients.
Ordering other kinds of homebrew supplies can be much more easily accomplished online than by visiting you local homebrew supply store. Homemade kegerator kits, wort chillers, keg fittings, and other small, lightweight items are more easily bought and shipped to you from the source. Homebrew beer supplies such as glass carboys, soda kegs, and CO2 canisters are sometimes best bought locally though, as their weight makes shipping prohibitively expensive. Glass carboys and soda kegs can also be found at discount rates at yard sales and flea markets as well.
While reused stainless steel kegs are becoming a more and more scarce commodity in the realm of homebrew supplies, reconditioned kegs are still available at every homebrew supply store. It is important NOT to buy these kegs online. You should always inspect a reconditioned keg and ensure that it has no dents or dings before buying. Most reconditioned Cornelius kegs are tested for leaks by the company or store that reconditions them, but it is still best to check with your own eyes, as these dents and dings can turn into minute leaks when the keg is pressurized. Of all homebrew beer supplies, the soda keg is the one you most want to inspect before buying. They are no longer in factory production (as of 2006), as the big soda companies have retooled to plastic bags for use in soda fountains all over the country. Let us hope that some entrepreneur starts making the stainless steel ones again lest our home brews suffer the same fate!
It is common sense that most greatly decides which of the homebrew beer supplies you need you will buy online. Heavy yet fragile homebrew supplies should be bought in person, where no mail carrier will be dropping them. The homebrew supplies and ingredients that are small and lightweight, such as keg tooling and parts, hops, and airlocks you might as well buy online and have shipped to you. This way you will save money and be able to utilize direct online ordering to your benefit when making your home brew. I recommend checking out what HomeBrewing.com has to offer in terms of homebrew beer supplies. Advice on home brewing, well, that’s a different story…