I received as nice email this weekend from Dave, who is involved with a new British homebrew supply shop on the internet, Homebrew 4U:
Thanks for accepting to write a review of my site, www.homebrew4u.co.uk. We are a new site (5 weeks old) and are starting out with a small range of products - extending the range as and when finances allow. Our resources / forums will also develop over time. If you would like any other information please feel free to contact me.This was a welcome second effort for the ReviewMe service I have signed A Good Beer Blog up for through which folk like Dave forward some funds for a review of their web idea. As this keeps the stash and the broadband going, fair enough.
I was happy to see that they are just starting out because this Homebrew 4U is not yet a full service homebrew shop. What they have are concentrate kits for wine and beer as well as the equipment you need to turn those kits into beverages. I would presume, as they are just starting out, that the business deals with only a few wholesalers to keep things manageable. One thing I do like is that they offer a couple of simple beer keg systems. I used to be a fairly active homebrewer and when I started using these full batch kegs it make life much easier. I would have liked to have found a supply of 5 or 8 litre kegs - five or three to a batch - so that I could tap them as I needed them and maybe have a few handy to take along when visiting.
The website itself is bright, simple and easy to use without too many clicks required to get from the start to finish of an order. Nice also to see that there is free shipping in the UK for purchases over a certain amount. As noted there is not much choice yet. When you look at a site like my favorite Canadian source, Paddock Wood from Saskatchewan, there as some obvious first steps towards the next level for Homebrew 4U. First, I would recommend hops as an extra to add a bit of zip to even a kit-made brew. Either late in the boil or right into the keg as a dry-hop, they are an easy way to add interest: Paddock Wood has a huge variety at little cost, each adding their own particular zing. A broader range of cleaners and sterilizers would be good, too. One plus are the books on homebrewing - though it is set out in an area called "Homebrew Resources" and not under the Homebrew Shop where you buy the other products on offer. And they do have their own set of clearly written starter guides on a number of brewing topics, which are very handy dandy if you ask me.
With some more time, effort and hopefully clients, a shop like this should make a go of it over time. For further information, check our the review by fellow beer blogger Hail the Ale!