Do you brew? If so why? If not, why not? How does that affect your enjoyment of drinking beer? Here are some things to think about if you’re stuck: Do you need to brew to appreciate beer? Do you enjoy beer more not knowing how it’s made? If you brew, can you still drink a beer just for fun? Can you brew without being an analytical drinker? Do brewers get to the point where they’re more impressed by technical achievements than sensory delight? Does more knowledge increase your awe in front of a truly excellent beer?
I have brewed off and on for over 25 years. I haven't for a while but have enough stuff in the house to whip off 15 gallons or so or perfectly good pale ale at a moment's notice. Not quite sure it helps me with all those questions - or made me a better dancer or anything - but it sure made me popular whenever there was a cask being tapped or a crate to share. Because I am most interested in the ebb and flow of thinking about beer, as opposed to the making or makers of beer, my awareness of how easy making a great all grain beer can be certainly helps me contextualize all the claims been thrown about these days... about how you need a Phd in bio-sciences or an uncle named Gandalf to make a decent beer - or spend twelve bucks a pint to buy one. Ask Max about that sort of thing. It also reminds me of the simple pleasures in the common nature of what brewing is. One of my favourite "oooh, dat cool" moments with little kids is the 90 minute transformation from seed to sweet caused by mashing. A rip-roaring primary fermentation is another. Not everything that is complex is wonderful. Complexity or - worse - just being precious and fussy can often work against both wonder and wonderful. Good beer is not all that complex. But it is wonderful.
The Beer Nut's a far better home brewer than me and Stan's thought about all of it before I ever knew there was a question being asked. But I like how each, like me, respond that it's not really about how the hands on knowledge of brewing alters your drinking so much as how your interest and focus in beer and brewing does. As Jay discussed today, this is all up to the individual. There are many paths to pleasure with good beer: travel, historical research, entrepreneurship, dipsomania... the list goes on and on. Home brewing is a dandy one but by no means mandatory. But it is fun to show it being made to the kids.