Boulder’s a craft beer hub, and many local brewers, like Avery Brewing’s Adam Avery, started their passion projects creating beer at home. It remains a vibrant pastime for many locals, including myself (read more on my homebrew discovery in this related post).
Since over 1 million Americans brew beer recreationally, according to the American Homebrewers Association, most cities have a local beer brewing supply store, and ours is no different.
Adam Kandle and Greg Kallfa opened Boulder Fermentation Supply in 2013 after Hop To It — Boulder’s previous homebrew shop, where the two met — closed its doors because they knew the city needed this staple.
Shortly after opening Boulder Fermentation Supply, Adam and Greg, avid homebrewers themselves, started VisionQuest next door at 2510 47th Street to serve their own beer.
Full of uniquely-flavored drafts, the taproom matches its neighboring fermentation store’s vibe as Boulder’s only homebrew shop in one of the largest communities interested in craft beer.
With a refrigerator dedicated to cheese and yogurt-making supplies, a wall for wine fermentation, and dozens of bottles for carbonating sodas and seltzers, Boulder Fermentation Supply’s business remained steady throughout the pandemic, largely due to the sheer amount of stock they offer to DIYers.
“Lots of homebrew shops can struggle when there’s not as busy a scene as in Boulder,” Greg says.
During the pandemic, customers came in with plans for more than just beer, but bought anything interesting that Boulder Fermentation Supply displayed, like fruit presses or electric kettles.
Best known for beer supplies, the store takes big hits on yeast, which expires four to six months after Adam and Greg buy it, since they never know which types homebrewers need. Boulder Fermentation Supply partners with seven labs that sell several types of lager, ale and cider yeast. But what Adam and Greg buy depends on the labs’ stock, which was especially unpredictable with pandemic supply chain shortages.
Boulder Fermentation Supply’s backroom houses a small mill, surrounded by a wide variety of binned grain and beer flavoring.
After opening their homebrew supply shop, Adam and Greg realized they lacked a liquor license to serve samples. The two opened VisionQuest next door, an excuse to brew weird beers for themselves and those who came into Boulder Fermentation Supply asking for a physical taste of the homebrewers’ knowledge.
VisionQuest’s 12 on-tap beers vary constantly with Adam and Greg crafting new recipes 80 percent of the time. The co-founders split brew days, with Adam also handling financials and insurance while Greg serves as handyman. While the taproom’s business suffered over the pandemic, VisionQuest bought a canning machine and plans to start locally selling taproom beers, inspired by homebrewing.
Adam and Greg brew more than 300 barrels of unique, craft beer yearly. “People know where they can get normal beers,” Greg says.
VisionQuest’s staples include Coconut IPA — a New England style IPA with coconut, plus Azacca and Citra hops — and their dark Space Jam sour ale with raspberries. The currently on-tap Field Trip to the Exasberryated Worm Farm is a pastry sour with blueberry, blackberry, black currant, vanilla and lactose.
While other breweries tend to plan their next batches months ahead of time, Adam and Greg ideate spontaneously a few days before they brew once a week. Or they target VisionQuest’s taproom needs and brew whichever style is running low.