Bitter and Esters: A Homebrew Shop in Prospect Heights

We used to have to go to Gowanus or (gasp) Manhattan to get homebrewing supplies. Now, we can saunter over to Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights (it’s just so close to Crown Heights) to Bitter and Esters, a homebrewing shop that opened earlier this month by John LaPolla and Douglas Amport. They not only sell supplies, but they will soon open a brew-on-premises operation – the first homebrew shop in the city to do so.

John LaPolla (left) and Douglas Amport

“Business has been pretty brisk so far,” LaPolla told us when we stopped by about a week ago. “The neighborhood has been really supportive.” Well, yes. A homebrew shop in Prospect Heights? Just typing that makes us giggle like children.

What began as an idea last September, the two friends – who both live in the neighborhood – originally wanted to open a brewpub, “but the startup cost was ridiculous,” said LaPolla. Deciding instead on a homebrewing shop, they ran a Kickstarter campaign and exceeded their goal of $4,000.

As a brewer for the past two decades, LaPolla had been running brewing classes at NYC Resistor, which he is now continuing at the shop. “The more people who brew, the better the world will be,” he said.

Some cool things to note about Bitter and Esters: the brewpots are electric – they heat up totally on their own with no flame; LaPolla and Amport are using plate wort chillers; the hops they stock are organic when possible; and they’ll be growing their own hops in the backyard of the shop when they clear it out.

Brewpots in the back of the shop

The selection of grains, at the front of the shop

“These people just want to make beer. And we are here to help,” Amport said.

And we are very happy.

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