I spend a lot of time at beer tastings and festivals these days, making a show of myself in a way that encourages people to engage in conversation. People are eager to discuss their discoveries and passions for beer, which are extreme and kaleidoscopic. In these halcyon times, a huge variety of amazing beer experiences are there for the taking, and people want to partake.
The one thing I’ve been hearing a lot lately is “Y’know, I’ve been thinking about homebrewing.” This comes from all ages and lifestyles, from the barely legal to middle-aged bankers. My answer is always the affirmative, “Yes, do it.”
This desire to make something and share it has created an industry―craft brewing―successful enough to shake the foundations of beer in this country.
Homebrewing is highly rewarding. There is nothing like the satisfaction of flipping the tap and drawing a tall, sparkling brew, tailored to the season, the only beer of its kind on the planet, tasting the pleasures of self-gratification. And of course, it’s even better if you can pass it around. Sharing a homebrewed beer is an act of kindness, grace, and civility.
When I started brewing in 1983, the beer landscape was pretty bleak. Our modest goal was access to good beer. We drooled over Michael Jackson’s World Guide to Beer until it looked like a dog-eared toy catalog, then we reverse-engineered the recipes: saison, porter, witbier, rauchbier. All of these are commercially available now, so it’s something different that drives today’s seeker, something bigger.
It’s about controlling our own destiny.
Passive entertainment is out. People want to do something, not just sit around and have their experiences spoon-fed to them. It’s time to get our hands dirty and make things. This cuts across all types of cultural activities; beer certainly falls into that bucket.
This desire to make something and share it has created an industry―craft brewing―successful enough to shake the foundations of beer in this country. Sometimes, if you just believe in something and keep pushing and going where the spirit takes you, amazing things happen. Craft beer is still a long way from being the top dog in the market, but who would have thought it would get to where it is? For sure, it’s here to stay.
So, if you’ve been thinking about brewing, get busy. Start thinking about what you’re going to brew, beer by beer, season by season. Picture a great tasting beer that you brewed, foamy and cool in your hand. It’s way worth it. Set a date, buy a kit, get a good book and start brewing.