Slowly but surely, the hobby of brewing your own beer at home is gaining popularity throughout the country. A recent survey we ran on this website shows that about 53% of new home brewers heard about the possibility of making beer at home from a friend.
When I first tell people that I brewed my own beer, I get a shocked look followed by “You can do that?”
Most local home brew supply store owners and managers report the same. Most of their new customers are people who heard about brewing beer from a friend or relative.
Some received a kit as a gift from their spouse who has been given a new slang term in home brewing lingo… SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed)
If only more people knew that it was possible to brew beer at home, this industry would see a huge increase in revenues.
Ever since the 1990’s micro-breweries have gained popularity and many of the brewmasters are home brewers themselves who belong to one of the many local home brewing associations.
The most common advice for beginner brewers is to pay close attention to cleaning and sanitation. Second most common is to be patient and leave the beer alone once it starts fermenting.
New home brewers tend to get beginner nerves and start wondering if they’ve screwed up their brew if they don’t see activity in their airlock once the beer is in the fermenter. This activity can take up to 72 hours to begin or may not even show up at all, but beer will still be fermenting.
Another common question asked by beginner home brewers is what kind of beer styles can you brew?
The answer depends…
If they get a home brewing kit, like Mr. Beer, Beer Machine or Cooper’s micro-brewery kit, then they will be limited to brewing just the styles of beer that are sold pre-made by these companies.
For more flexibility home brewers will turn to either extract brewing or all grain brewing, both of which allow you to brew any style of beer produced by micro and macro breweries.
The taste is often better than commercially available beers since ingredients are fresh and you are allowed to tweak your recipes to get more malty, hoppy or bump up the booze in your beer.
In fact, according to the survey we ran on this website, part of the reason why most home brewers were inspired to start the hobby was because they loved beer for one, second they wanted to create their own to get a better tasting beer than commercially available beer.
A third reason?
To save money by brewing it themselves. But, is home brewing really cheaper than commercially available brew?
For the most part it is. Extract brewing doesn’t require much investment upfront to buy the necessary equipment to brew beer. Primarily it is a fermenting bucket or carboy, a 20 qt pot, a hydrometer & thermometer, and an airlock.
The ingredients for extract brewing, however are more expensive in the long run compared to all grain brewing, but many beers can still be brewer cheaper than commercially availabe ones.
A good pale ale recipe can be put together for about $40-45 dollars and give you about 52 bottles of beer (12 oz), which means each bottles costs about 76 cents plus a bit of sweat equity.
All grain brewing, requires more equipment, but in the long run the ingredients are cheaper to buy.
All in all, making your own beer at home has more rewards than just saving money. The community is very friendly and the hobby is somewhat addicting.
You can meet many home brewers and get a good taste for craft beer at different beer festivals, where many micro breweries bring in different styles of beer for people to try. Many of these beers were created at home before being taken to a micro brewery and being mass produced.
For home brewing classes, you should talk to a local home brew supply store which may offer them at no charge, knowing you’ll be patronizing them, or look for a local home brewing association and get someone to mentor you.
You can also search the internet for forums and look into home brewing training programs like the better home brew formula.