People like to ask me why I brew beer, they want to know if it’s because I save money, because I can make a better product, or if it’s just because I like having all that beer close at hand. Really the answer to all three of those questions is no, but the reality is also a good deal more complicated than that as well.
First let’s take a look at the cost question; depending on what you brew, how you brew it, and where you get your ingredients brewing can get a little spendy. And when you consider that it is in the end a hobby, and like most hobbies something of a time and money sink you begin to see the bigger picture. It is completely possible to pursue the whole thing and keep it cheap while still producing drinkable beer, but where is the fun in that?
Is it possible to brew a better beer than you can buy in the store? Yes and no, yes because for the most part if you are careful, follow your recipes well, and have a bit of luck it is possible to produce some very very good beer (and really it’s easier to do than it sounds). But commercial breweries have access to things the average person just doesn’t get to even think about, and there are some things that simply are not accessible to those of us brewing on the home or even nano scale. So can I produce some very good beer? Yes. Is it the best out there? I would venture to say it’s not even the best homebrew
Do I like having gallons and gallons of beer on hand all the time? Honestly not really, I have never been a very big drinker, which in the past has meant I end up sharing my homebrew, which is fine because I like that, but either I have to bottle the beer which is a pain, or deal with kegging which means I cannot really take it anywhere, there is equipment to clean, and you have to have space to store it all, really if it was all because I wanted good beer on hand I would spend the money on a good six pack; it will last me quite a while and I don’t have all the bother tied too it.
So the question is still unanswered, why do I brew? For a few reasons, first of all it is the best science experiment ever, there is chemistry, physics, and biology all rolled into one event and at the end you get beer! But there is something more than that, people have been making beer on this planet in one form or another for over five thousand years (give or take). I’ve read articles where archeologists argue that beer quite built or saved civilization several times over. So when someone brews beer they are reaching back through the ages and touching a tradition older than much of what we look around and see, and the basic principals have not changed in centuries, we know more about how it all works, but the way we brew is not that different. And that is what really appeals to me, it is a way to connect to human history in a real tangible way.
So that is why I brew