As the Thomas Fire choked our skies with soot last December, Rebecca and Trent Hammell and Aimee and Mike Kielborn left town with their young kids to catch some fresh air for a few days, and wound up brainstorming business ideas. All four have fairly involved careers already — Rebecca is an ophthalmic technician, Trent is in finance, Aimee teaches at Ellwood School, and Mike is an engineer — but they also share a love of homebrewing and have made beer together for years. They knew that the South Coast was home to many homebrewers and yet not home to a homebrew supply shop — ever since Brew Buddies in Goleta closed a couple decades ago — so the couples decided to dive into that niche.
A frantic five months of long nights later, they opened BYOB! (Brew Your Own Beverage) in May on upper State Street, inside a former uniform shop on the strip mall best known for Farmer Boy. The region’s homebrewing scene is rejoicing, no longer having to buy their grains, yeasts, and other supplies online or to head up to Valley Brewers in Solvang, the only other homebrew supplier in Santa Barbara County.
“In a strange way, this is a rebirth from that fire,” said Trent. “It’s a family affair and a passion project. We want this to be a pantry for all the homebrewers in town, and a nucleus to bring together a fragmented brewing community.”
They’ve been “overwhelmed” by the early response — the Santa Barbeerians Homebrew Club has been especially supportive out of the gates — but it’s not just from beer lovers showing up. BYOB! also sells kits and ingredients for all things fermentable, from wine and kombucha to kefir, cheese, and perhaps even kimchi and sourdough bread in the future.
They’re hosting workshops, both for newbies and those more experienced in the art of fermentation, hopefully with help from the community’s rather deep crop of professional brewers. “We’re going to demystify the process by having all of these classes,” said Aimee.
On the beer front, they have more than 40 types of grain, from California-raised organic options to the classic European malts; loads of fresh yeast; and all of the adjuncts you dream about; as well as the hardware, from $100 introductory kits to standalone two-top burner sets, cooling coils, and more.
“Our tagline is, ‘What will you brew first?’” said Trent, who’s also committed to keeping costs down, as the Internet is their main competitor. “We’ve been extremely aggressive in our pricing.”
Overall, the modest shop is designed to serve as a new headquarters for brewing aficionados of all experience levels and interests. “It’s really important to have fellowship with other people in the craft,” said Trent. “That’s what we want to provide, a support system for all the brewers out there.”
3445 State St.; (805) 324-4690; byobsb.com