3 Reasons Why I HomebrewJul 17, 2017 Comments (1)
I avoided becoming a homebrewer for a long time mostly out of the fact that I really didn’t need another hobby. That and the thought of exploding bottles, high cost of entry, and 5 gallons of mediocre beer sitting around wasn’t the most appealing. I finally caved when a friend offered to pay for the kit and we borrowed a kettle to brew with. We spent the afternoon anxiously trying to figure out what we were doing but ultimately wound up with a half decent pale ale a month later. The only problem was, I had only a vague idea what I did and how those ingredients were specifically impacting the final product.
Years later after countless brewing and a lot of reading time, I’ve fully rid my concerns of blowing up bottles and downscaled brewing to just a couple gallons and find myself brewing beers of increasing complexity, but they’re still just okay. So why on earth would any of us who work at a brewery making amazing beers continue to homebrew?
1) The Knowledge
Once I brewed my first batch, it was bothersome to not know how to improve a second. I started reading about brewing and found myself working at a beer bar which gave me access to amazing beers for inspiration and to serve as a muse. When I started at Ninkasi two years ago it was a stark reminder that there’s always more to learn! Around me are decades of experience, multiple brew-school grads and lots of people specializing in their field. Ultimately there's a vast amount of learning that I can not only apply to talking to our tour patrons but also contributing to better beer-making practices at home.
2) The Access
Every day I walk into rooms with the best brewing ingredients in the world. Heading into the hop cooler daily is not only a constant reminder of those ingredients being there, but that amazing aromatic nudge to go home and try something new. Luckily I have the ability to snag a few ounces here and there. We also get heaps of samples annually from suppliers and occasionally we’ll have things leftover that I get to brew with. Not only is it fun to try something cutting edge, but it also allows me to brew something in a style out of the ordinary and provide us different feedback on those ingredients we wouldn’t normally be able to do ourselves at work.
3) The Passion
Possibly the most surprising thing about how much I still love homebrewing is how many others here still do as well. From our cellar, brewers, lab and more, many of us still brew at home regularly. When I asked around why people here still brewed, the primary response given was along the lines of “why wouldn’t we?!” And while I got a spectrum of answers, here are a handful - “Homebrewing is how I got started, I can’t imagine NOT doing it”, “Working in a production environment homebrewing allows me to stay creative”, “I can do a whole bunch of things at home that I could never do here” (referring to wild yeast and lactic acid producing bacteria.) As homebrewers we can also make beer from foraged ingredients or use practices that are labor intensive and couldn’t be done on a commercial scale. We do it because it’s unique and exciting and something that drives us.
Most brewers will tell you about how their first batches were just for fun, but then they got sucked into something much bigger. There’s something about the split of art and science that comes with making beer that really turns on the creative switch in our heads. You may not know it yet, but almost everyone has one homebrew shop in their city. It’s worth a visit! While not everyone will wind up a professional brewer, the thrill of filling your house with the same aromas in the brew house is intoxicating, and learning how things get made makes us better employees here, as well as consumers. So get out there and brew!
About the Author
Mat Olive knows a few things about beer and isn't afraid to drop some beer geek knowledge anytime there is an opportunity. As Ninkasi's Brewery Experience Coordinator Mat talks beer day-in-and-day-out to brewery guests and visitors ensuring each person who makes a trek to the brewery leaves with a deeper understanding of our industry and our craft. Mat is also a Certified Cicerone® and a Recognized BJCP Judge.