A Good Beer Blog

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Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


Comments

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Tedo -

Due to living in an apartment, I haven't been able to make as many home batches as I would like, but I do know that this sometime hobby of mine has created a better palate and a better appreciation of good craft beer commerical or otherwise. By putting in all the work that it takes to make a good batch of beer you gain an interesting perspective on how hard it must be for the small batch micro brew's to consistently make great beer or a larger scale. Thats why I homebrew, its given me a greater understanding of beer.

Todd -

Donavan,

There are a myriad of reasons why people homebrew. But out of them all, it all comes down to a love of the craft of brewing, and the ability to create something that simply isn't available commerically.

I also think it isn't much different than asking the question of why people cook in their kitchen. Anyone can put together a PB&J, but there are people out there why go the extra mile and hone their skills creaking gourmet meals. But why do it when you can go to a restaurant and a well prepared meal? The same reasons apply to home brewing.

As you have noted, homebrew ranges from the undrinkable to masterful. Recently I was judging at the annual New York State Fair homebrew competition, and there were a few examples, that easily rivaled anything from the commerical brewers.

I think I have to disagree that there is any tension between homebrewers and the commercial microbrewers. Having had roots in both, with few exceptions, I always seen the microbrewers very open to new methods of brewing and styles of beer, and I've found it interesting to watch styles that have originated with the homebrewers (such as Imperial IPA) migrate to the commerical world.

Travis -

I wouldn't say that there is tension between home brewers and pro brewers ,in general, but we could certainly do without some of the attitudes that many homebrewers have. My favorite is the guy who thinks the Bavarian Pilsner would taste better if it was an Imperial IPA. My second favorite is the guy who says BudMillerCoors is terrible beer. About 1 in 100 homebrewers have the skills, patience and knowledge to make a standard American lager. I don't like that beer style but to say that the brewers that make that beer aren't making a quality product is bunk.

Homebrewers have been and continue to be important to craft brewing. I think as craft brewing becomes bigger, the home brewer will have less signficance on future trends in craft brewing. As an example, the use of canning technology and focusing on milder more quaffable beers rather than big, hoppy beers that you can only drink one or two in a sitting.

Donavan -

I don't think Wells suggested that there was tension between homebrewers and professional brewers (didn't mean to give that impression). The only tension that Wells refers to explicitly is the homebrewer's simultaneous admiration and pity for the professional brewer. The homebrewer admires the fact that many people drink the professional's beer, but (as Wells said) at the price of "the creative edge" (that's where the pity fits in). Whether the homebrewer's pity is justified or not doesn't remove the real cultural/sociological reality of the tension (which from Wells's report appears to be localized in the homebrewing community). I suppose that a person could argue that homebrewers (in general) don't feel the way that Wells says they do.

Stan Hieronymus -

Since others have touched on the idea we like to create beers we can't buy (and hopefully make them great beers) and the cooking angle ...

Don't forget the role of communities and how easy it is to make friends over beer. I'm thinking first of the your homebrew club, but depending on your interests could also mean fellow BJCP members, members of online communities, people you get to know at events like the National Homebrew Conference, etc.

The Liberal Avenger -

Off topic...

I have seen a beer that comes in a GREEN SQUARE BOTTLE advertised recently. It is a standard brand, but perhaps a new "premium" version of the product. I thought it might have been Heineken, Rolling Rock or Becks, but I can't find the product anywhere online.

Does anyone here know what I am talking about?

Donavan Hall -

Stan, You are right about communities. For a lot of people, "the homebrewing scene" in their town is their social outlet. That's one of the reasons I really enjoyed going to homebrew club meetings and club parties when I lived in Florida. There was always something to talk about and plenty of beer to drink while talking. On any given Friday night at least ten or so club people would be hanging out at the local brewpub. We all had a good time. And you wanted to brew so you could tell all your friends about your latest brewing adventure: "Oh man, I had this stuck mash you wouldn't believe! I had to..." Folks who live in north Florida should definitely check out the North Florida Brewer's League. It's a great club.

The social homebrewing scene here on Long Island is different. We are all so spread out over a huge geographical area that meeting up takes more effort. However, one of the homebrew club members lives in my neighborhood and we get together regularly to brew and sample our latest creations.

Donavan -

As for the "Off topic..." question. Avenger, you can find what you need to know over on Brookston Beer Bulletin.

Thomas -

Donavan, my response is here.

http://geistbear.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2006/7/11/2104078.html

Bad Ben -

The social aspects to homebrewing are very important to me and my homebrewing (and non-brewing) friends.

As to homebrewing itself:
Many homebrewers are "out of the can" extract brewers that strive to clone a comercial brew successfully, using someone else's recipe. This is not brewing in the true sense, but is more like cooking, IMHO.

I love the experimental side of homebrewing. Yeast selection and/or culturing, constructing the recipe, the mashing temperature, mashing time, water chemistry/profile, hop and ingredient additions, fermentation temperature and time, etc. When all is said and done, it is such a good feeling to enjoy the fruits of your art and labor, and to share the finished result with others.

That's why I homebrew.

Donavan -

Hey, I'm with you on that. I like the experimental side of brewing also. And I like to brew stuff that I can't buy commercially. For example, I love Saison, but all the commercial examples I can find are 6% ABV or higher. I just kegged my own version last night that is right at 4% ABV. It was very refreshing even served at room temp out of the secondary fermenter. I'll be proud to serve this one to my thirsty friends. And I'm glad I brewed 11 gallons of it. Saison anyone? Santé!

Page Buchanan -

At first I brewed at home simply out of curiosity and personal enjoyment, but what really got me hooked was other peoples' enthusiasm and positive feedback once I started to brew good beer. Within a few years I was kegging, had made my own jockey box and was hosting regular parties or serving my beer at others. I have also found that even non-brewers like to gather around a brew kettle like a grill or camp fire.

The same applies to why people like to host dinner parties or a good cookout. Not only do you want to enjoy the company of others but also relish in their enjoyment and compliments on your creations. Beer and food provide a positive focal point for human interaction, and if you made the beer some of this focus is also on you. We are social creatures and we all have egos (in a positive sense in this case).

Dave -

I started brewing about a year ago, it was long before I started experimenting adding different hops and malts to kits. Now I'm brewing from extract. It's the experimenting and trying new ideas that I like. My mates are always willing to play guinea pig to my new recipes, so the social side is good too.

irish19 -

I started homebrewing because I thought it would be fun. Then, as I transitioned from extract to all-grain, the economics (excluding the labor-BTW, how do you manage to do an all-grain brew in only six hours?) appealed to me as well as the fun in developing a brew that I liked. I was up to about ten batches a year, split between mini-kegs and bottles, until my son was born nine years ago. Now, however, I'm getting the itch again. Unfortunately, Brew-Tek, from whom I got my yeast slants, has since gone out of business. If anyone knows a supplier of these, I'd like to hear about it.
I expect to start back with extract early in the New Year if not sooner.
I guess it's sort of like doing anything yourself, be it cooking, brewing, building something, or even something like handloading. Sure you could buy it, but if you do it yourself, you can keep tuning it until it's just exactly what you want.
And it's also nice to know you can do things for yourself.