Ask A Brewer: The Vital Nature of Homebrewing

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Photo Cred: Ian Steele- This is a heavily loved pilot system that once functioned as a homebrew system

Everyone starts small. Homebrewing is one of the most rewarding hobbies/endeavors a person can take on. Generally, once the bug sinks its fangs in, your average novice homebrewer will make their brews from a syrupy concoction known as Liquid Malt Extract (LME), which is quite similar in consistency to molasses. From there, you mix it with heated water, add some pre-milled grains for flavor, boil and add your hops, then leave it alone with its yeasty buddies for two weeks. From there you bottle or keg, and even the most negligent brewer is likely to have produced something edible. This is where the real work begins.

Homebrewing is a vital part of the brewing experience. The previous summary of your typical introductory homebrews is where your average homebrewer begins to understand the process of brewing, from grain to glass. Once this is accomplished, and the brewing bug is coursing through your veins, you begin to upgrade your equipment. It may start as simply as an aquarium pump to chill your wort rather than hand pumping it through a siphon. Then maybe you upgrade to a stainless fermenter with a dip tube and conical bottom. Step by step, if you really commit, a god’s-honest brew system will begin to take shape. 

This very concept is what makes homebrewing so vital to anybody hoping to begin brewing, whether for pleasure or for a career. When you start with a rudimentary brew system and work your way up, you are inherently learning how all the moving parts work individually and together. When you get your first aquarium pump, you learn about how it operates and how it can help you, and as that knowledge sets into your mind for the long-term, you build on top of it. Eventually, when you brew on somebody else’s system, whether a commercial brewery or a state of the art homebrew system, you will gain a much better understanding of how it all functions, because you will have already built your own brew system from scratch.

Homebrewing is the most rewarding hobby I have ever undertaken, and I would recommend it to anybody who even remotely enjoys beer. It’s lots of trial with an extra heaping spoonful of error, but the recipes that come out on point fill you with such an accomplished joy that it should be celebrated with a toast. Luckily, you’ll have around 50 bottles of beer to drink in honor of this most noble art.