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DeFalco‘s Homebrew Closing

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DeFalco‘s Homebrew Closing

On the same day as the city’s biggest homebrew competition, our oldest homebrew store announces they are closing up shop for good.

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DeFalco‘s homebrew closing may not mean much to some. To others that know Houston’s long history of beer, or those that are passionate about homebrewing, it definitely stings to read.

At the very least, it leaves you with some questions, and that’s why we’re here.

Defalco’s Homebrew History

Scott Birdwell, and by extension his shop Defalco’s, are like a taproot in the history of Houston beer. Back when there were literally no options outside of BMC, Scott raised the banner for flavorful beer, and his rally cry was heard and echoed by other Bayou city beer fanatics.

Inspired by a taste for what good beer could really taste like in Europe, Scott decided he’d change Houston’s beer history in 1977. He probably didn’t know it at the time, though.

Back in January of 1978, President Jimmy Carter paved the way for the legalization of Homebrewing at the federal level. All the while Birdwell was already homebrewing. He’d later become the owner of Houston’s first homebrew shop, DeFalco’s. In 1980, he also helped push a bill to Texas Legislature that would eventually legalize homebrewing in Texas. That bill went on to be passed in 1983

Scott Birdwell went on to make other massive strides for Houston beer including other legislature that has allowed what you now know as a brewpub to exist. You can read more about him in the Houston Beer History that we wrote on The Full Pint.

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Defalco’s Homebrew Closing in 2017

Back in February 2017 Defalco’s closed their Clearlake location.

Birdwell’s Facebook announcement read, “Unfortunately, it is time to make some difficult and painful decisions. The long and short of it is that there is simply not enough business to sustain two shops. Unfortunately, sales at the Sea Lark location are not what we anticipated, and we are compelled to make a decision to make a change.”

The closing of their second location came as news to homebrewers around town, but I don’t think any of us saw Defalco’s homebrew closing up shop entirely only 2 years later.

On the original closing post on IG, there were several sad commenters expressing their gratitude for the shop and its history. It’s a snapshot of the impact Defalco’s has had and the legacy they’ll leave behind in Houston.

Defalco’s account commented in reply, “We’ve dropped about 65% of our business in the past 5 years. The numbers don’t work anymore. Not just us. Shops are closing all over the country these days. Sadly, there will almost certainly be more closures to come.”

A few people close to the situation, who chose not to be named, suggested that Birdwell is ready to retire and simply doesn’t have a successor that can take over the business.

So sad. In a day and age where you can buy online for cheaper deals, it’s a great reminder to support local. I purchased Rick’s first home brew kit from Defalco’s well over 10 years years ago. As a bar owner that’s starting to get overlooked because I’m not behind the bar 6 days a week, I feel their pain. [We get] constant feedback [like] you weren’t there so I left or didn’t patron that day. You need a bigger place, better parking…. There could be a day my doors won’t be open. Support local.
Dawn Hebert – Co-Owner of Hop Stop Humble

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That’s where you come in

Back on January 25, 2019, there was a similar situation where a well-loved home-brew shop was closing its doors. Ron Rivers of Love2Brew faced a similar situation to Scott Birdwell and Defalco’s.

Rivers penned an email to loyal customers, “Hello Love2brew Crew, I’m writing to you today to inform you that Love2brew will be closing our retail and online sales operations on March 31st, 2019 at the latest. It’s time for Mark and myself to begin the next chapters of our journey. We founded Love2brew in 2011 excited and focused on spreading the joy of homebrewing and community in our home state and beyond.  In many respects, we feel that we have succeeded in our purpose.”

After only seven days, Love2Brew reneged the announcement. A friend and customer stepped up and bought the company. They made some changes and they’re still in business 8 short months later.

Hopefully, somebody reading this can change this headline from DeFalco‘s homebrew closing to DeFalco‘s homebrew sells to a new owner.

Maybe somebody wants to be a part of Houston’s rich beer history AND our future? There’s some equity available in a brewery too.

Share this, and let’s see if we can’t resuscitate a Houston beer staple.


8/11/2019 This story is still developing. Updates will be posted here.

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