Is Home Brewing Worth The Time And Effort?

To brew, or not to brew? That is the question. The same could be asked about many hobbies, as well as a lot of the day-to-day things that contribute to survival. You could ask, “Is cooking my own food worth the time and effort?”

The vast variety of superb tasting micro brews available today gives the question more validity than it had when I got started brewing, but I’ve found that this great variety has actually been motivating. When I taste something I really like, I can make my own version, tweaking the recipe to tailor it to my exact preferences.

When I made my first batch of beer back in the early 90′s, the micro brew industry was in it infancy. The most radical things out there were brands like Samuel Adams Boston Lager, or Boulder Beer. Those two are main stream now. At that time, the entire micro brew selection of your typical, and even larger beer stores was displayed in about half of one cooler. Brew pubs were just getting started. As a brief aside for history buffs: The Wynkoop Brewery in Denver, Colorado, opened in 1988; The Buffalo Brew Pub claims to be New York State’s oldest, opening in 1986.

I took on the hobby of home brewing after tasting some of the beer an acquaintance had produced. His beer was excellent. He claimed that once he had his brewing set up, he was making beer for five dollars a case. Being that my beer consumption was a considerable drain on my financial resources, I found the notion of five dollar a case beer very enticing.

His claim tuned out to be exaggerated. I soon discovered that I would never make beer for less than ten dollars a case. It was typically costing me about fifteen dollars per case. This was competitive with the major brands like Budweiser, Coors, Miller, etc., and slightly less than the cost of the limited selections of micro brews available at the time.

Then, there was my time and effort. The effort was not all that significant; very comparable to making a pot of soup. The time factor is a little harder to quantify. I’m just guessing, but I probably had about six hours, spread over several days, in the actual preparation, brewing, and bottling of a five gallon batch. Once I experienced that Eureka! moment when I sampled my first batch and discovered for one of the first times in my life what beer was supposed to taste like, the time and effort I expended brewing my own beer became entirely inconsequential.

I’m not claiming to be a home brewing genius, or anything like that. The simple explanation for the superior taste of home brewed beer can be summed up in one word: Freshness. It’s sort of like the comparison of fresh-baked bread, just out of the oven, to that same bread the next day. Your fresh beer will blow the doors off of anything you buy packaged. Even beer from a brew pub may be weeks, or months, old by the time you get it.

So, where does that leave you? Is home brewing your own beer worth the time and effort?

If you’re someone who likes to experiment with recipes, doesn’t mind the sanitation aspect of thoroughly washing everything that comes in contact with the beer, and loves not jut good, but great beer, I think you’ll find that not only is it worth your time and effort, but that any and all effort, and any amount of time necessary, is effort well exerted, and time well spent.

Maybe you’re competitive by nature. There are contests and awards out there, just waiting for you. Maybe you have a little inner mad scientist that needs an outlet. Home brewing affords you the opportunity to combine ingredients, vary procedures, and innovate to you heart’s content.