Part alchemist, part “alcoholist,” Larry Sechler is an expert in all things home-brewed. The manager of Alternative Beverage, at any given moment he can jump from helping a beginner gather equipment to advising an experienced brewer on the pros and cons of using lactic acid versus live cultures.
Alternative Beverage is based in Belmont and has a storefront on South Boulevard in Charlotte and its newest in Old Town Cornelius. It opened its Oak St. Mill location in October, drawing clientele from all over the region, including brewers from north of Statesville and as far as Winston Salem, Sechler said.
“The Oak Street location seemed like a good one because it is close to our hub, there’s a good customer base here, and there are lots of breweries nearby,” Sechler said.
A long-time home brewer himself, Sechler first started brewing beer 12 years ago as a way to save money, satisfying his expensive taste with his own craft creations. The best advice he can give to someone interested in brewing is, “just do it.”
“You can do research, you can talk to people, sampling others’ beers helps, but the best way to learn is actually doing it,” he said. “When things go wrong, you learn what to do. You learn how to fix it.”
For those interested in trying home brewing, Sechler shared some tips:
• Know thyself. Figure out what you like to drink, and brew that.
• Have patience. When you take time with the process, you end up with a better product.
• Get involved. Join local clubs, attend events, and participate in online communities. It’s a great way to get some inspiration. Local ones include Carolina Brew Masters in Charlotte, and Iredell Brewers United.
• Read. Get a good starter book. Sechler’s top three include: John Palmer’s How to Brew, Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide, and Charlie Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Home Brewing.
• Be prepared. Know what you have, and what you need, before you need it.
Alternative beverage carries everything from equipment to ingredients for brewing beer, wine, ciders, and mead. Sechler hopes that soon it also will serve as a gathering place, offering brew sessions with local clubs or even beer festivals, and drawing together people who share a love for the craft.
Sechler loves sharing his passion for the craft and his expertise in it with others, and his job at Alternative Beverage is the perfect marriage of his interests and skills. He looks forward to work each day.
“I basically have the keys to my own candy shop,” he said.
About the contributor:
Christina is a local multimedia content producer and digital strategist. Formerly the editor of CorneliusNews.net, she is thrilled to work with the OTC team to once again help tell the ever-evolving Cornelius story. She lives nearby with her husband, Nate, and a small menagerie of 2- and 4-legged beasties.