By now you probably know at least one person who's tried brewing their own beer. Maybe you even have that "expert" friend who scoffs at the only IPA on tap when you go out... after all, his Amarillo and Tree Bark IPA won first place when him and his two brewing friends did a blind tasting. Brewing beer at home is one of the fastest-growing hobbies in the US, and you've noticed a big change in the beer culture. The tiny beer section at your nearest gas station now does growler fills and your favorite TV program shows something other than Bud Light when the lead actor goes out for a drink. Your interest has peaked, and if your C-average buddy from high school can do it... brewing can't be THAT hard. But how do you know it's time to jump in? Well here are the top 10 signs you're ready.
1. You've strayed away from your "Go To" six-pack:
So you're long past your Domestic Macro-brewery phase. For a while you'd look through the rows of 6 packs that were under $10; you'd try something new if it seemed interesting, but you always had your favorite mainstay to fall back on. Lately, however, the Black Butte Porters, Torpedo IPAs, and Moose Drools of the world just haven't seemed as interesting, and you find yourself staring aimlessly at the menagerie of 22oz bottles in the next isle. Well my friend, if you want to try something new, brewing is the best way.
2. Your "beer budget" gets bigger every month... even if you're drinking less:
You're standing at the grocery store, and Boston lager is $15 for a twelve pack... that should last you the weekend. Then again you haven't tried this new bourbon barrel aged amalgam of ingredients you can hardly pronounce... and it's only a dollar more! Better get them both.
3. You find yourself quietly judging the beers you drink:
Along with your palate's newfound spirit for adventure, you've also encountered a mild disdain for the uninteresting. You might not be able to discern what's off with that beer you drank gallons of a handful of years prior (see point 6,) but you know that compared to the newest Enjoy By IPA your bearded friend turned you on to, gallons-beer is bland.
4. You've used "mouth feel" in a sentence:
The vernacular has always been a curiosity, but with your newfound respect for the finer points of beer, tackling phrases like "mouth feel," and whatever that color measurement is, seems totally doable. Besides, trying the benzocaine brown ale your "expert" friend made was the only time that word didn't seem appropriate...
5. Your significant other is a beer-lover:
If who you're dating is already doubling your monthly beer-spending, brewing at home just becomes an economic imperative. The great thing is you'll hopefully get to skip the fiery looks of disgruntlement that follow the purchases of us less-fortunate brewers.
6. You want to refine your palate and learn what you're tasting:
By now all the cool kids are using words like mercaptan, attenuation, and hops (I threw that last one in to relate to a wider audience.) You probably have a vague idea of how at least one of those impacts the flavor of your beer, but you want to be able to really know what you're tasting. More importantly you'd like to know why you like or don't like beers that you drink. When you get in to brewing, you learn a lot more about what causes all the beer flavors you like or don't like. Pretty soon you'll be able to to describe your beers with words like malt, yeast, and dimethyl sulfide (shout-out to Rolling Rock,) along with the rest of the "in" crowd!
7. You're curious about the process of brewing:
For a lot of people, starting to brew is as simple as wanting to know more about the process. Brewing is an excuse to tap in to your inner nerd. At first you'll just be happy finding you can turn sugar-water in to potable alcohol, but before long you'll discover a desire to test the boundaries of your alchemical talents! You'll make messes, raid your fridge for strange ingredients, and ruin a hand full of batches, but in the end you'll emerge with a new-found knowledge of what it takes to make beer.
8. Traveling has become beer-centric:
Your travel itineraries are no-longer complete without at least 2 brewery stops. Your taste buds have embarked on a vision quest, and won't rest until you're sure you've tried every beer imaginable, fresh from the source. Large steel tanks are now your restaurant decor of choice, and you have a closet full of souvenir apparel that you can't wear to your kids' school because of their strange policies on alcohol related graphics... I think you're ready to try home brewing.
9. You want to spend more time with your friends:
If your cellar full of well-aged, rare beers wasn't enough to make you popular, having a constantly rotating supply of home brew on tap at your house HAS to do the trick. Brewing is a social activity. It's easy to have friends over to brew, as well as to drink home brew! If a lot of your friends love beer, brewing your own is a great way to connect with them.
10. You want to belong to something:
Brewing is a culture. There are lots, of brewing clubs across the country that meet to share beer, compete, critique, and enjoy the company of other people with a similar appreciation for beer. When you brew you'll find it's easy to connect with other people in the hobby, and you'll find that other brewers frequent the same bars, go to the same events (usually beer-related ones,) and have similar interests. It's perfectly acceptable to be an anti-social brewer (many of us are familiar with some version of geeky-lonerism,) but when you start brewing you can also connect to a spectacular culture. At very least you'll have a couple table topics in your back pocket for awkward dinners.
Does this list describe you or someone you know? Please leave me some comments if you liked this blog, or if you have ideas of what I should write about next!