Everybody who loves beer has at one point considered trying to make their own. And while getting into homebrewing can seem like a daunting and difficult prospect, making your own beer at home is not hard to do, and you can get started with an initial investment of well under $100.
Homebrewing has come a long way since President Carter legalized the practice of home fermentation in 1978. It's not just bearded guys in cargo shorts making murky pints in their bathtubs; the American Homebrewers Assn. (AHA) estimates that there are more than a million homebrewers in America, and the hobby is growing fast as more people discover craft beer.
Saturday is "Learn to Homebrew Day," and it's a great excuse to dive into the world of making your own beer. Here are four reasons why you should give it a try.
It's easier than you think
Getting started can be as simple as getting an all-in-one kit, and you can start with one sold by the Brooklyn Brew Shop. Kits are available from online retailers and local chains like BevMo! and Total Wine for about $40, and each box has nearly everything you need to brew about a six pack of beer. You'll just need a stock pot, a funnel, and a few hours to put it all together. A dozen different beer styles are available in kit form, and they are a great way to dip your toe into the hobby before purchasing a bunch of specialty equipment.
The actual process of brewing the beer is only as difficult as boiling water, stirring things, and being careful about cleanliness (ask any professional brewer and they'll tell you 90% of their job is scrubbing things). Once the work is done and you've transferred the wort (unfermented beer) into the included glass jug, you just let the yeast do all the hard work, and in a few weeks you'll have about a gallon of beer to drink!
Making beer at home is an enduring challenge
Homebrewing is one of those simple-to-learn, but difficult-to-master activities that offer endless room for experimentation and process refinement. While it's easy to make small batches with limited space and equipment, if you're someone who loves gadgets, gear and hardware, then homebrewing will give you ample opportunities to buy, build and collect all kinds of hardware for bigger and more complicated batches. There's a reason why so many engineers find homebrewing to be a fulfilling creative outlet. There's no one right way to make beer, and developing your own techniques, methodologies and recipes can be a lifelong pursuit.
You can make new friends
The homebrewing community in Southern California is thriving and one of the most developed in the nation. L.A. is home to the nation's oldest homebrewing club, the Maltose Falcons, and there are a dozen other organizations spread across the Southland. These groups hold meetings, club brew days and offer support and advice for newcomers and veterans alike. Another great aspect of the homebrewing scene in California is just how inclusive and diverse it is. You can visit the AHA's website to find local homebrewing organizations.
If you enjoy entertaining, always having a supply of delicious and unique homemade brews around can also make you pretty popular.
You can do it your way
Even with the nearly limitless options of flavors and styles of craft beer available, you can't always find exactly what you're looking for. Homebrewing lets you build your perfect pint exactly to your own specifications. Can't find a chocolate-flavored IPA at the beer store? You can make your own. Have a persimmon tree in the backyard? Turn your autumn bounty into your own seasonal ale. Sad that your favorite commercial beer is being retired? Formulate a homebrew clone version so you can sip on it year-round.