I am thinking about growing a beard. It appears to be mandatory for homebrewers, and with the bottling of my fourth home brew I have officially joined the homebrewing craze.
What do you think? Would a beard make me a better homebrewer?
Surely it would be easier for me to learn homebrewing than grow a beard. Turns out there are a lot of moving parts to homebrewing, even though it is just a few simple ingredients. As I mentioned in Introduction to Craft Beer, the four main ingredients of beer are malted grain, water, yeast and hops. But there is an infinite number of tweaks you can make to these four ingredients
History of the Homebrewing Craze
This modern homebrewing craze can be traced to the 1970’s. Charlie Papazian and a group of bearded buddies in Boulder, Colorado started the American Homebrewers Association. In 1979 homebrewing was legalized and the Baby Boomer generation brought their “can do” spirit to the game. Today there are hundreds of homebrewing clubs around the world. The Millennial generation has jumped on the wagon with their search for all things small, local and fresh. Everyone is doing it! Brewing not beard growing!
Hombrewing: Science or Art
Like most things in the kitchen, brewing is equal parts science and art. Your high school chemistry teacher tried to teach you, all of life is some form of chemical reaction, beer included. Homebrewing is a magnet for stats geeks. They can collect and compare numbers for pH, ABV, temp, IBU, specific gravity….. On the other hand it also draws the creative and artistic. Colors, flavors, body, and even names speak to their imaginations. I probably fall more into the latter category.
My son nudged me into this hobby. He gave me a Starter Kit from Northern Brewer for Christmas last year. There are several companies that sell kits and supplies for homebrewing. Northern Brewer is one of the big names and happens to have a brick and mortar store a few miles from home. This Starter Kit came with all the equipment, ingredients and instructions necessary for my first batch.
With typical beginner’s luck my first batch progressed admirably. It produced an Amber Ale, while drinkable, it was not especially inspirational. I quickly ordered a couple more recipe kits. Unfortunately I based these choices more on my drinking style than on my beginner abilities. Homebrewing involves a long learning curve paved with many mistakes.
Mistakes play a large role in hombrewing sometimes they lead to a lucky discovery and sometimes they are explosive. Next week’s post will share some of the mistakes I have learned from already. Be sure to sign-up for my newsletter so you can follow along.
Here is a little teaser: