July 19, 2012 at 11:37 AM ET
Brewing your own beer at home has never been easier than at this exact moment in history. It’s legal in 49 states (get with it, Alabama!), and affordable brewing equipment and ingredient kits are just a mouse click away. And since the Internet is teeming with information and nice folks eager to help you, and it’s hard to find a reason to say “no” to homebrewing. Instead, here are five reasons to go for it:
It’s fun: Brewing beer allows you to spend a few hours with your inner caveman. There’s fire and a cauldron of boiling water, and the hair on your forearms will most likely be blanched by steam at some point during the process. Real danger = fun! Plus it makes you feel a little like an outlaw, forging your own path and engaging in slightly suspicious (but perfectly legal) behavior. Look out the window, Judy – I think the neighbor fella is COOKING METH! There’s some heavy lifting, but overall, brewing beer is an awesome way to spend an afternoon.
It saves money (potentially): Gear wise, all it takes to get started is a cheap-o five gallon stock pot from your local superstore and a basic starter kit from a place like Northern Brewer or a homebrew shop near you. All of this will run you about $100, and if you stick with brewing, this start up cost can be spread across many batches of beer. Ingredient kits usually run between $20 and $40 per brew if you start with extract brewing -- where all the grains have been conveniently condensed into a in a pre-made syrup -- and will yield five gallons of tasty homebrew. Based on the cost of a 12-pack of fizzy yellow beer, it’ll take less than four batches before your equipment costs are covered and you have a beer fridge stocked with craft-quality beers that you brewed at less than Bud Light prices.
You’ll make new friends: It’s often been said that “beer people are good people” and this is never more evident than when you’re talking about homebrewers. There are thriving communities on websites like HomeBrewTalk.com just waiting to help a newbie brewer get their first batch to come out right, and there’s people at every homebrew supply shop across America who are happy to point you in the right direction. You’ll be surprised how much support and guidance folks are willing to provide, mostly because they’ve been where you are and someone was there to help them. There are a lot of people out there who love homebrewing and want you to be successful; all you have to do is ask.
You’ll learn a ton about beer: Brewing beer is the single best way to educate your senses to the nuances of the world’s greatest beverage. Smelling, touching and tasting the raw ingredients will make you better at understanding the work of others. If you like to cook, then you know your culinary experiences at home allow you to deconstruct and better appreciate the work of a chef in a fancy restaurant. The same holds true for brewing your own beer.
You'll be proud: It’s an awesome feeling to take a sip of a beer you made with your own hands and realize that you totally nailed it. Your self-esteem jumps up a notch or two when you start with a set of raw components and combine them into a symphony of pleasure. It isn’t hard to homebrew up a respectable batch of beer, but to create something that would make a master brewer blush is a feeling of triumph, a testament to your attention to detail, your creativity, and your desire to make something truly special. This is why many homebrewers will tell you that their favorite beer is one they made themselves – nothing tastes better than your own success.
Getting started is as easy as visiting the Homebrewers Association website, where everything is laid out for you. I also recommend picking up the book “How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time” by John Palmer. There are lots of other resources out there, but Palmer gets you right into the brewing action up front, and then explains everything in detail later in the book. This approach lets you get your first batch under your belt quickly, and a little experience makes it easier to grasp some of the finer points of homebrewing.
And once you get your head wrapped around the process, you can get totally nerdy and create your own all-grain recipes from scratch. The world needs to taste your cranberry peanut butter lambic!
That’s probably not true, but if you can dream it, you can brew it, and that’s the beauty of homebrewing.
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