I assumed this was already a thread; perhaps numerous times over. A quick search revealed nothing, however, so excuse me if it has already been done.
I began homebrewing in my mid-20s. I was a huge fan of beer at the time (still am
), but primarily got into the hobby because of the notion that brewing your own was cheaper than buying from an LQ. I soon realized that it was thoroughly enjoyable to cook up my own beer, and as you all know, a darn cool hobby to have! This was in 1998. I continued to homebrew to this day, and have noticed some ways in which the scene has changed.
For one, no-one cared. No one back then cared if your IPA was a "little too dark for the style". They were just stoked that it tasted good. No one cared if you brewed a Saison or an MGD clone. They were just stoked that you were making your own beer. No one cared if you were an extract brewer. They were just stoked that you brewed your own beer. No cared if you used a 3-gallon pot and a couple of plastic buckets or if you had an elaborate, computer-controlled rig. They were just happy to enjoy the final product with you.
These days, it seems that homebrewers are more concerned with targeting a specific style of brew to a T. When I got into homebrewing, the big thing to brew was IPAs. Now, it is just big, crazy beers all around; it seems. There is nothing wrong with that, really, but in my opinion-and it is just my opinion-that the emphasis has been removed from simply homebrewing and placed on trying to duplicate an authentic style.
It also seems that the more elaborate the rig, the better. I do see pictures of some of these rigs, and they are impressive mind you, but are they really needed? Stove-top all the way!
There are also tons more people involved today than back then. This isn't a bad thing in anyway, but it seems that a lot of people who are getting in to it now are going straight to the more complicated rig set-up and "authentic" styles. It almost seems as if you are not going big, you are a poser. This seems backwards for those just getting in to it. Or are they just doing it for the cool factor?
Brewing beer is a simple process, and I do not know why so many people are complicating it. I met a guy a few years ago who has [claimed] to be homebrewing for 40 years. He scoffs at all these "new school" techniques and claims that for AG, all you need to do is soak the grains in 140˚ F water for one hour. I like to keep things simple; and that is primarily what I do. Except I use 170˚ F water. I just put the grains into a cooler or bucket and add enough hot water to cover the grains + one inch or so above. Place a lid, and let it sit (after stirring, mind you).
Perhaps I might need to use an "extra" pound of grains or so in order to get the most sugars, but this method is not only about as basic as it comes, but gives me the desired results I am looking for.
As for beer styles...for me it was all about brewing beer that I enjoy drinking. I never cared for the BJCP guidelines. If my stout is more tan than dark brown/black-big whoop-dee-do!
Lately, I have been getting into really simplifying my brews. I use one grain and one type of hop. I just believe that brewing beer should be simple. It has been documented numerous times that even the most basic equipment can be used to create complex brews. I don't mean to rant, and I'll get off my soapbox. I'm just bringing this to this forum as a general observation.