Beer is one of the oldest beverages known to man. Some records indicate
that the ancient Sumerians produced a beer-like beverage around 3000BC. Until fairly recently most beer was made
in the home.
Today, homebrewing typically refers to the brewing of beer and similar alcoholic beverages (and
sometimes soft drinks) on a very small scale as a hobby for personal consumption, free distribution at social
gatherings, amateur brewing competitions or other assorted generally non-commercial reasons.
Homebrewing was outlawed in the U.S. with the madness that was Prohibition. After Prohibition was
repealed, wine making at home was made legal, however beer brewing at home was not made legal due to a
stenographers error! Then in 1978, a federal law was passed that allows 100 gallons of homebrew to be made
per adult per household (the average homebrew batch is 5 gallons), up to a maximum of 200 gallons of homebrew
per household. With that a brewing revolution was on!
Why Do People Homebrew?
There are probably as many reasons for homebrewing as there are homebrewers. Some do it for
taste. Some for the hobby aspect. Some for the money savings. And some are just adventurous
and love to show off their culinary skills to friends and family.
Sometimes referred to as craft brewing, the culture surrounding homebrewing has many strands
In the US, homebrew radio stations and brewpubs have become popular over the last 20 years; both have a
tradition of promoting live, unpasteurised beers. In the UK, the Campaign for Real Ale and homebrew
circles have helped to promote the craft and cask-conditioned ale over pasteurised keg beers. This having been
said the vast majority of beer consumed on both sides of the Atlantic is keg beer.
People homebrew for a variety of reasons. Homebrewed beer can be cheaper than commercially equivalent brews;
however most homebrewers customize their recipes to their own tastes, which tends to be more expensive. For
instance, hopheads, or fans of beer with prominent hop flavors, can hop their beer far beyond what would
normally be considered excessive. Dark beer enthusiasts can create beers, such as Russian Imperial Stout or
Porter, that are the antithesis of the paler style that is commercially dominant, particularly in the US.
Additionally, homebrewers are able to create ‘specialty’ beers that are either extremely rare or entirely
unavailable on the open market. Moreover, homebrewers have complete control over the amount of alcohol produced
(based on the amount of fermentables placed into the wort), allowing for the production of beers containing very
low amounts of alcohol or very high amounts of alcohol.
Some homebrewers strive for perfection of specific styles of beer and enter their products in competitions.
Others simply brew to have styles of beer on hand to drink and share that are otherwise commercially unavailable,
or in an unacceptably poor state when they are available.
One of greatest draws of homebrewed beer is the opportunity to enjoy beer that is 'live'. Since almost every
beer available is pasteurized, it is almost impossible for the average beer drinker to enjoy beer in its natural
state. Pasteurization requires the beer to be cooked, which results in the disappearance of any carbonation.
Commercial brewers collect the boiled off alcohol, mix it with the pasteurized beer and force carbonate the brew.
The disadvantage of this is the fact
that all of the yeast is killed in the process. Therefore, the beer tastes considerably dissimilar from
‘live’ beer (that is, beer containing live yeast). Moreover, the beer will not age without live yeast. Homebrew is
never pasteurized, therefore the carbonation present is naturally produced by the yeast, the taste is a more
natural flavor, and the beer will age, changing in taste, texture and color over time. Without homebrew, the
general public would not be able to enjoy beer in its natural state. The one exception is a type of beer
occasionally offered by pubs and breweries known as ‘cask conditioned’ beer, which, like homebrew, is not
Getting Started in Homebrewing
Homebrewing takes patience and skill. There is also equipment and supplies to buy. Luckily, today,
there are many valuable resources for learning and purchasing everything you need on the web. Look around
MyEverydayLife - Homebrewing and you will learn how to get started and see many valuable places to get what you