By Chris Lindsey
I began brewing beer 4 years ago. For years I had thought about it and planned to someday give it a shot. I even went over a family friend’s house once and watched him brew beer in his kitchen, and came away telling myself “I could do that.” However I always had one excuse or another to put off trying it on my own. I must have talked about it a lot because a friend finally bought me a book on brewing. I devoured the book in a week and never looked back.
I brew beer because I really like beer. This sounds obvious and straightforward, and well, it is. People that like food typically learn to cook, people that like planes learn to fly, people that like music learn to play an instrument; and so it goes with beer and brewing. The great part about homebrewing compared to other pursuits is that it’s readily accessible. Homebrewing as a hobby has matured immensely over the past 30 years, so an aspiring homebrewer has plenty of books, magazines, blogs, clubs, and both retail and online stores to help him or her get started.
As with anything else, the more I learn about brewing the more I appreciate beer. Even Bud Light has taken on a new dimension (it now has a green apple-like tang) with new appreciation from me. Believe it or not, it’s not easy to brew a beer like Bud Light. Though looking at the whole spectrum of beer, the scientific precision of Budweiser stands in stark contrast to the simplistic artistry of small Belgian and German breweries. Brewing history comes alive when I think about all the trial-and-error it took for brewers to develop the hefeweizen that I’m now enjoying. Brewing has changed my perspective on beer from curiosity to full-on enchantment.
Unexpectedly, I am now a participant in the budding American beer culture, rather than a spectator. The majority of craft breweries, from Sierra Nevada to Sam Adams to Stone, began in a home kitchen. New American styles like American Pale Ale, Black IPA, and Belgian IPA, came from restless homebrewers experimenting to find the new expression of a Good Brew. Like any creative movement there is a constant churning of notions, fancies, and whims. The beer I brew and share with others is my vote for the future of American beer in our time.
Brewing is often compared to cooking. Rightly so as it shares many of the same aspects as cooking: developing a recipe, shopping for ingredients, preparing the ingredients, thinking several steps ahead and the subsequent timing, evaluating your finished product, and of course sharing the fruits of your labor. For me it’s a great creative outlet. I have my variations on common dishes that I like to cook, and the same goes for the beer I like to brew. The same goes for the way in which you approach brewing. You can focus on perfecting a classic style of beer, or experiment on the fringe with a recipe that flaunts convention.
Brewing scratches my DIY itch. There’s plenty of great beer available in the store or at a nearby bar, most of it better than the stuff I brew. But there’s plenty of great food in restaurants, and yet I still prefer to cook my own meals. When I make something I know it’s being made for me. It takes more work, and it isn’t perfect, but it’s exactly what I want and I made it from scratch. For my efforts I’m blessed with a constant stream of interesting beers, all of which started in my head and came to be through my hands.
Part 1: You are here. Awesome!
Part 2: 4 Common Questions
Part 3: Step-by-Step Guide To Getting Started
Part 4: Extract or All-Grain
Part 5: Five Keys to Consistency
Part 6: Bottling or Kegging
Part 7: My Best Brewing Resources
Part 8: Beer Alternatives
Legal Stuff: Of course, we should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).