Homebrewing: Why But Why Not

This month, in this spirit of homebrew education and evangelism, I want to open up this Friday’s Session topic to be on homebrewing—the good, the bad, your experiences, ideas, (mis)conceptions. 

THE SESSION #132 — Homebrewing Conversations — BEER BLOGGING FRIDAY The Sessions, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry. 

This month, host Jon Abernathy at The Brew Site, selected the theme: Homebrewing Conversations.  "So in this spirit of homebrew education and evangelism, I want to open up this Friday’s Session topic to be on homebrewing—the good, the bad, your experiences, ideas, (mis)conceptions, or whatever else suits you, as long as it starts the conversation!" 

Suggested topics:

  • Do you homebrew, and if so, for how long? How did you get started?
  • Talk about the best beer you ever brewed at home—and your worst!
  • Are you a member of a local homebrew club (or even the AHA)? Tell us about your club.
  • Describe your home set up: do you brew all grain? Extract? Brew in a bag? Unusual mashing/sparging/etc. methods?
  • Have you ever judged a homebrew competition? Talk about that experience.
  • Are you a BJCP or other accredited beer judge? Talk about the process of becoming certified/official.
  • Never homebrewed/not a homebrewer? No problem! Consider these questions:
    • Do you know any homebrewers?
    • Have you ever tasted someone’s home brewed beer?
    • Would you ever be interested in learning how to brew? Why or why not?

I've Never Brewed

Homebrewing? I don't homebrew. I don't need to when I have a fridge (plus several boxes in the cellar) full of excellent beer. But still, the call of the kettle is alluring.

 Dogfish Head's Wood-aged Bitches Brew — one example of the many excellent beers on the market.

Dogfish Head's Wood-aged Bitches Brew — one example of the many excellent beers on the market.

I have read that many of today's great breweries were first inspired during travels to Europe, discovering their great beer styles of Germany, Belgium and England, plus a mature, robust beer culture. Then upon returning to the States they began their own experiments into beer creation and homebrewing. We had industrial lagers and a select few European offerings, not knowing that great beer still existed. Now, 20 and 30 years later, the USA craft brewing industry has blossomed into the envy of the world or at least we have returned from the brink of darkness.

I've been asked many times if I brew beer. My answer normally is, "No, but I plan to some day". I have many friends that do. I've tasted many fine beers brewed in friends homes. And some that were not so great — but greatly appreciated just the same. A few are experimenting with bourbon barrels and using local ingredients. Topics that certainly gain my interest when brewing my own beer. I've sourced some local persimmon trees of which that I think the ripe fruit would be excellent in a saison.

Not for the Beer — For the Process

When I do begin brewing, it will not be primarily for the beer but for the process. I want to learn how beer is made. Yes, I've read scores of texts about brewing and gone on many brewery tours. I believe to really understand it, however, you have to do it. I want to experience the process, distinguish between options for malts and hops and yeast and water.

Experiment — Fail — Learn  — Drink — Share — Repeat

Perhaps a Genesis

For Christmas, my son informed me that he wanted a homebrew kit. He is now 26, so he is legal for those minds who for a moment had envisioned a 12-year old brewing beer. I do weekly beer tastings and some do bring their young sons to join them. That's part of being with dad, not tasting beer. I had visited the local homebrew shop a few times, picking up ingredients for beer talks and even taken a couple classes. And so I purchased a nice beginners kit for him.

So my son has pitched his first batch of beer, a hefeweizen, since he is so partial to the German beers. It will be ready for bottling soon, then comes the grand opening. Stay tuned!

So what beer would I have with Chris or Joe? I think, it would have to be Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale. That was a beer that has been special in my life, that really opened my eyes to how good a beer can be. And I’d like to share one, no two, maybe even three, with these friends. I’m older now, and have learned that we should not take moments or friends for granted.
— Deep Beer: It's More Than A Beer — It's A Moment

Someday I will ask him to let me work with him on a beer. My first beer will likely be a nut brown ale. That beer has so many good memories for me. I think 2018 will be a good time to learn to brew beer. Until then, I think I'm going to visit the beer cooler to see what's calling me.