Not surprisingly, many craft beer lovers are also homebrewers, and I am no exception. Conversely, nearly every home brewer is a craft beer lover… or else why would they do it? The logical progression is to go from being a lover of beer to being a brewer of beer as well. After all, why would you even start brewing if you didn’t like the end result? That said, not every craft beer lover has an interest in home brewing. I have heard many drinking pals comment “there are so many great beers out there already, and really, it seems like a lot of work…”
I loved craft beer long before I ever picked up a stirring paddle. But when my roommate decided he was going to brew beer, I was all for it. “Free beer!” I thought. And while it was not great beer his first time ‘round, it was better than any of the keg party swill that we were so often subjected to. The more he began to brew (and the better he got at it), the more interested I became. I watched what he was doing, and looked at the recipes. While I knew conceptually what went in to brewing great beer, I had never seen it in action (and he was using mostly extract at the time).
A few years later, after I had moved to Florida, I began to brew my own. It was then that I really began to understand the ingredients and what they could do. A change of hops, a variation on the boil even, and you could change the beer you made! It was thaumaturgy made real! The more I brewed and experimented, the more I realized that it influenced my own enjoyment of craft beer. Nuances that had been lost on me before were suddenly laid bare. I found myself slowing down and savoring specific flavors of malts and hops, analyzing the brews not only as a whole experience, but breaking them down to their parts. It deepened the experience and only drove my interest further.
In turn, new ideas arose for my own home brews. What if I added this to the boil? What would happen if I switched the
yeast in the recipe for another strain? This two-way education opened ideas for my enjoyment and exploration of beer as well as my creation of my own home brews.
Home brewing is not a way to save money on your beer supply, as any true home brewer will tell you. Like any hobby (or obsession) there are always new “toys” and ingredients, and there are always new ways to upgrade your rig, expand your output, and build your own beer cave. But really, as craft beer lovers, saving money on beer is not usually high on our list. We gladly pay a bit more for what we love, and know that most of the time it is absolutely worth it. You won’t see one of us knocking back a case of 90-Minute IPA or Dales Pale during the Superbowl or Stanley Cup Finals, because we tend to prefer to enjoy our beer. But I digress…
Homebrewing – if it is something you are interested in – is not only a great hobby and means to be creative with something you love, but can also enhance your enjoyment and understanding of craft beer. There are numerous references and places to look if you or someone you know is interested in home brewing, and some of the best can be found among the featured writers of the Hop Press.
Here are some recent articles by the Hop Press Gang that I highly recommend:
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