The rise of craft breweries and niche wineries has probably caught the attention of those who like beer or wine.
The Brewers Association says two breweries open per day in America and three-quarters of Americans of legal drinking age live within 10 miles of at least one brewery. Establishments have popped up in neighborhoods across the country, and many inspire a new crop of enthusiasts who want to try crafting their own brews and vintages at home.
“The home brewery movement started back in the 1970s and as cheesy as it sounds I got into home brewing because my wife bought me a kit, and even though my first batch was garbage, it inspired me to learn how to brew beer,” said Ben Law, co-owner and brewmaster at Brewery Draconum.
The American Homebrewers Association reported there were more than 800 U.S. homebrew shops in 2016.
Anyone looking to jump into home brewing will find there are many resources at their disposal. Brew shops are now in many towns, and they can provide space, equipment and resources to help novice brewers get on track. Law said that he personally gained a lot of knowledge from Youtube and by reaching out to other local breweries like Wolf Creek and Pocock Brewing Co.
“It’s just like any other hobby and there’s a good community that’s really open to share ideas and recipes,” he said. “It’s not so close-to-the-chest, cutthroat competition. It’s very communal and inviting.”
For those who find local resources are limited, brewing supplies and advice can be located in abundance online. Retailers such as Northern Brewer, for example, provide items that can be purchased a la carte or in specially designed beginner kits. As individuals become more experienced with brewing, they can vary the ingredients and experiment with their own flavors.
“I’ve tasted some really great home brews and I’ve made some really good and really horrible brews, but the fun is really in learning and tasting that great brew that you made,” Law said. “There are so many different flavors, but in terms what comes to what makes beer taste great it all comes down to personal preference. Just strive for balance and for something that fits the basic profile of the style of beer that you’re making, whether it’s an IPA or another style.”
Both beer and wine are fermented using yeast. There are many different varieties of yeast that perform well in beers and wines. Temperature and sanitation are very important to the brewing process. To ensure quality beverages, all items need to be thoroughly sanitized to prevent natural yeasts and contaminants from impacting taste. Ambient temperature can influence how fast the product will ferment and the final flavor.
Brewing wine or beer at home can be a rewarding hobby. People can learn how to turn ingredients into flavorful alcoholic beverages, socialize with others who share the same interests and produce beverages that align with their individual tastes.
“Beer is just so fascinating to me, and it’s been around since before people even kept records,” Law said. “Ben Franklin said, ‘Beer proves that God loves us and wants us to be happy.’ That’s one of the Founding Fathers right there, how can you argue with that?”