Craig Singleton is a do-it-yourself guy. "I like self-sustenance, DIY," he says. "Mom and Dad are that way." So Singleton brews beer, hunts, fishes, barbecues and cures his own meats. He's both passionate and enthusiastic, traits that sometimes earn people the label "nerd" or "geek" -- but in a professional setting often result in well-served customers. That's Singleton's hope for Brew 'n Q, his new homebrew and barbecue-supply store that opened this month in a warehouse space in rapidly developing River North neighborhood.
Brew 'n Q stocks a wide variety of brewing supplies and equipment, as well as barbecue setups and wood, charcoal and pellets for various outdoor cookers and smokers. Singleton also carries an extensive range of local and national sauces, rubs and condiments, including products from world-famous barbecue joints like Scott's in South Carolina, Rendezvous and Corky's in Memphis, and Gibson's in Alabama.
Singleton learned how to brew beer in 1994 and got serious about barbecuing that same year. "Dad gave me his old, crappy charcoal smoker," he recalls. His new store now sells a number of different outdoor cooking setups, from a simple charcoal smoker from the Put Barrel Cooker Co. out of Strasburg to the high-tech, digital pellet burners from Yoder Smokers. "It's basically a convection oven," he notes. "You could bake a pie in it."
Smoking and brewing were once just side projects, though; Singleton built a career as a trainer in the airline industry before getting laid off and switching to a completely new job with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and also working as a microbiologist for a water-quality lab. But with changes in that field, he soon found himself looking for work again; this time he wanted to make sure his fate was more in his own hands. He decided he wanted to get into the homebrew supply business, so got a job at Stomp Them Grapes to learn the ropes. "I learned the inside of the trade -- how many bags of two-row (barley) to order, how many tubes of yeast," the recalls.
He knew it was time to open his own shop when Stomp Them Grapes closed. He feels his years of experience in other fields -- training customer service with the airlines and a background in microbiology -- have prepared him well to be a proprietor in a niche market where customers come in for advice as well as supplies. "I love customer service and education," he notes, adding that Brew 'n Q will offer seminars for those looking to learn more about making beer and smoking meats, including advanced classes from local -- and possibly national -- professional brewers.
Beer and barbecue are a natural combination; Singleton mentions that he already has crossover customers who come in for both homebrewing ingredients and outdoor cooking supplies. "It's that whole mentality of 'I want to do it for me,'" he explains. Customers also come in looking for cheese-making equipment, wine kits and kegging supplies. "I won't sell wine kits," he states. "I've picked my niche." Instead, he sends people to nearby Wine and Whey for the wine and cheese goods and to Centennial Tap a little farther north for kegging equipment.
As a longtime resident of the neighborhood as well as a new business owner, Singleton understands the importance of building a community: "We're all small businesses here."
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Brew 'n Q is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.