I wish I could say it was because I was at Elysian Brewing’s Great Pumpkin Beer Festival this past Friday that I missed posting for The Session, and that’s mostly true, but frankly I also just forgot the lead-up in time to get a post in the queue. But, since it was also the weekend of the Great American Beer Festival, I figure there was likely a fair chunk of folks who didn’t get to this month’s Session in a timely manner either, so it’s all good.
Something our host Jeremy Short over at Pintwell had even commented on, though wisely had his own Session post written early. And the topic for this month? Paraphrasing slightly, How Did Homebrewing Change Your View of Beer?
The idea of this session is how making something changes your relationship with it. For example, when I first started homebrewing I wasn’t a big fan of lagers. After learning to brew I realized how complex and particular lagers were and I came to love them because of that. Here are some ideas to get your writing juices flowing:
For the homebrewer:
– How did homebrewing change your view of beer? Do you like beers now that you didn’t before? Do you taste beer differently? Does homebrewing turn you into a pretentious asshole?
There were more examples, but you get the idea and this first option applies directly to myself as it is.
I got into homebrewing roughly concurrently to when I was getting into craft beer, back in the mid-1990s, so if anything I would say homebrewing was equally instrumental as craft and micros were in opening my eyes to the possibilities of beer beyond macro-brewed industrial lagers. I don’t know how common a path that might be for most people; I suspect that people are introduced to craft/import beer first and discover homebrewing later, if at all, and therefore might look at homebrewing in the same way as they might look at “real” brewing—difficult, technical, something only a few people can learn.
I don’t know. But for me, homebrewing was the great equalizer. Reading about different beer styles further made me want to seek out commercial examples, while at the same time trying a craft brewery’s beers made me want to figure out how to brew them myself. Realizing that knowing how to brew meant that potentially any style or beer, commercial, historic, foreign, what have you, could be duplicated at home—that’s powerful! Or to put it another way—
- Don’t want to wait in line or pay big prices for that bottle of Dark Lord Imperial Stout or The Abyss? Brew your own!
- Want to recreate a lost or historic style that nobody is brewing? Brew it yourself!
- Have an idea for a beer with wonky ingredients that nobody has thought of before? Well, I’m sure somebody has, but what’s stopping you? Brew your own!
So homebrewing for me demystified beer even as it helped me learn about the possibilities of beer beyond those industrial lagers. But then again—those same industrial beers, knowing how to brew myself and knowing hard hard it actually is to brew pale, light, clean, consistent lagers—definitely gave me a new respect and appreciation for just what it does take to brew them. As a result, I’d like to think that instead of making me a pretentious asshole about beer, it did the opposite and made me appreciate well-brewed beer all that much more.
(I’m sure there was a period there that I was a pretentious asshole, but hopefully it was a short period. These days I’m pretty open to anything and try to simply celebrate the beer, regardless of style or brewer.)
(Of course, homebrewing has educated me about actual flaws in beer, so “not a pretentious asshole” doesn’t mean I don’t recognize a bad beer.)
In essence, I suppose homebrewing made beer more accessible to me, removed the mystery but increased the appreciation of beer. And at the same time, when I encounter a beer that is a mystery—a “how did they do that?” moment—I have a toolset for figuring that out. And that’s a big part of the fun.