Though it is only mid-afternoon, there is barely an empty seat at the House of Brews bar. Amidst the clinking of pint glasses and roar of conversation, owner Brent Weisfeld chats with regulars as he fills a mug from one of sixty-nine taps. The walls are lined with rare bombers, specialty six-packs, and even a vast selection of wines available for purchase. Any local will tell you that Jensen Beach’s House of Brews is the place to be for craft beer connoisseurs.
“We started with a tiny little beer wall and it just kept growing and growing,” Weisfeld says. “Fortunately the distributors were there to support our growth, presenting us with beer options and integrating that with the customers, who kept asking for more.” This beer sanctuary began as a small part of Weisfeld’s other business, a specialty food marketplace called A Picky Gourmet. Now, House of Brews occupies a building three times the size of the original store and supplies thousands of beer varieties.
House of Brews patrons depend on frequent tap rotation and the perpetual influx of hard-to-find beers, keeping Brent busy with the researching, ordering, and serving. Distributors are an essential part of the business, providing trucks, salespeople, line cleaning, product rotation, signage, and more. “As much as I’d love to say I could go around the globe and bring in these specialty beers myself, it’s impossible,” Weisfeld explains.
Because customers can purchase a six-pack to go or sit at the beer café to enjoy a pint at House of Brews, Weisfeld understands the benefits of Florida’s three-tier system from the perspectives of both bar-owner and off-premise retailer. “It’s been a huge advantage,” Weisfeld tells us. “Distributors have provided me with beers I wouldn’t have been able to get on my own. They also coordinate events, such as beer festivals and on-premise tastings, and make it so the consumers out in the public are brand-aware.”
Weisfeld values the ability to provide his customers with beers from hundreds of start-up breweries. “The three-tier system makes it possible and cost-effective for these small breweries to get their products into my business,” he adds. “Without those beers, I wouldn’t exist. My focus is on providing people with the unusual, the rare, and the unique. If I can’t do that, I’m nothing to my customer base.” Without the three-tier system, places like this would be scarcer than the limited edition barrel-aged ales we picked up on our way out.