Looking back, when I think about all the reasons why I didn't homebrew for so long, waiting wasn't even on my list. I admit, I'm an inpatient guy. But I'm here to tell you if you can wait three weeks after the boil and another two to three weeks after bottling, you can make your own beer too. I haven't been at it for very long - about two months. But, I have taken to homebrewing with Mr. Beer like a new best friend moving in next door. My friends, family and I have consumed - with growing delight - four batches of a wide style of homebrews. And, as I write this, I have five more batches either carbonating or fermenting. Everybody's beer brewing journey is unique. As a freelance writer for such sites/publications as Beer Advocate, craftbeer.com, and All About Beer I have heard many great stories of how people came to brewing. These interviews range from well-known founders, such as Sam Calagione at Dogfish Head Brewing, to people like Sean Nook at Black Bottle Brewing in Ft. Collins, CO. Sean was a mechanic earning a good living who got tired of giving people bad, expensive news about their cars. Instead, he decided to make people happy and became a brewer. As with both Sam and Sean, I learned most commercial craft brewers were first homebrewers. I decided being a homebrewer would give me insight - it would be good for my business. However, I am happy to report that there are much better reasons to homebrew than just for work. Here's what I learned:
- The beer is really tasty.
The benefit of brewing with extracts is Mr. Beer has done a lot of the hard work. The margin of error (off taste) has just about been eliminated. As a newbie, I'm producing beers that finish smooth, something that is important to me. Also, the beer is fresh and with just the right amount of complexity.
- My family and friends approve.
Since I started sharing my new brewing expertise, I'm not just a guy who talks and writes about craft beer - I'm a brewer. Now I make people happywith a skill that seems to them just a little bit mysterious. My wife even thinks I'm a better husband because I can make the chili beer to which she is partial.
- Extract brewing gives me control.
What concerned me the most about brewing with extracts was that I couldn't be creative. Man, was I wrong. While the basic extracts make good beer, I have enhanced and tweaked some of my batches. For example, I used extra grains in the boil and then fermented with sour cherries to own my unique recipe for English nut brown ale.
- Homebrewing does make me more credible.
I do have better insight and empathy for anyone who brews. This regardless if it's a two-gallon Mr. Beer homebrew fermenter or a 30-barrell system at a local craft brewery. Once you instinctively understand wort, high krausen, and temperature aging, you'll have a new appreciation for craft beer. Your homebrew will become much more than just something to drink. It will, in part, define you.