is homebrew better than commercial beer?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

newbrewr4fun

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2008
Messages
203
Reaction score
0
Location
Beaverton, OR
What do you guys think about this? Is it worth the time it takes to brew your own beer? I think when I tasted my first batch before I put it in the frementer it was great! But I thought, you buy the kit to brew beer that you probably could have bought at the store. Do the results speak for themselves? I guess I will find out in about 1 month.
 

DavisKettle

Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2008
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
"beauty lies in the eye of its beholder", if you prefer homebrew flavors and aromas over anything storebought, you might be led to think homebrewed beer is better than commercial beer.

OLD members and NEW voice your opinions
 

Tankard

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2007
Messages
705
Reaction score
0
Location
Santa Barbara
I think homebrews can be just as good, if not better, than commercial beers if done correctly.

I think for most homebrewers the process of brewing beer is as important as the finished product (for me, at least). It's a lot more fun to brew your own beer than to go down to the store and buy a 12 pack...
 

RichBrewer

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 2, 2006
Messages
5,900
Reaction score
211
Location
Denver
It depends on what beer you are compairing it to. Some commercial beers are better some are not.
For me it is so much more than just making better beers. I'm passionate about the process and I simply love brewing.
 
OP
N

newbrewr4fun

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2008
Messages
203
Reaction score
0
Location
Beaverton, OR
I suppose that when you start becoming more creative homebrewing may take on more characteristics. I really liked brewing my simple extract kit. After a few maybe I will try a partial mash or something a little more in depth.
 

shamrock

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 13, 2008
Messages
46
Reaction score
1
Location
Hagerstown, MD
Is a home cooked meal better than a restaurant meal? :) Depends on the cook, and the restaurant, and the meal. The real question is, "Do I like to cook?"
 

Evan!

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2006
Messages
11,835
Reaction score
108
Location
Charlottesville, VA
I've had excellent homebrew that I'd gladly pay money for in a store...both mine and others'. I've also had hideous HINA (homebrew in name only) that made me cringe (both mine and others').

I've had excellent commercial brews that I'm happy to pay for. I've also had straight plonk (Abita Amber, anyone?) that is worse than 75% of the homebrew out there.

So, there's no one answer to your question.
 

brew hoperator

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2008
Messages
304
Reaction score
4
Location
Reading, PA
I think homebrews can be just as good, if not better, than commercial beers if done correctly.

I think for most homebrewers the process of brewing beer is as important as the finished product (for me, at least). It's a lot more fun to brew your own beer than to go down to the store and buy a 12 pack...
this sums it up for me.
 

Special Hops

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2008
Messages
1,547
Reaction score
71
Location
Kanatenah
All depends on the brew.

Bud < some homebrew < some mirco-brews < some homebrew < some micro-brew = some homebrew.
 

menschmaschine

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2007
Messages
3,259
Reaction score
51
Location
Delaware
Don't forget the health benefits. Most commercial beer is pasteurized and filtered, stripping it of yeast and nutrients.
 

tnlandsailor

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2005
Messages
533
Reaction score
21
Location
Knoxville, TN
My beer preferences are pretty tame in comparison to many. But I will say that when you pick up a fine commercial example of a classic style - you will be hard pressed to duplicate it at home. A few examples really stand out to me - the first is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. This beer is very delicately balanced with subtleties that really make it a fine example of APA. Most homebrew versions are over the top with hops. SNPA is a 58 degree lob wedge while most homebrew is a baseball bat. The second example is virtually any beer from Fullers. The English beers are a lesson in complex malt flavors that virtually escape any effort, at least on my part, to duplicate them. If you can find a good bottle of 2005 Vintage Ale, you will experience one of the most delicate and complex beers you can buy commercially. If I could do half of what Fuller's does, I would die a happy brewer. The last example, don't laugh, is Budweiser. There are about a dozen homebrewers in the nation that can successfully pull off a style like this. It's near impossible. Now, most people don't want to brew like this - and that's fine, but if I paid you money, I'll bet you couldn't do it. There are NO flaws in this beer. None. There is nowhere to hide in this beer. If it isn't perfect, it will be horrifyingly obvious. It's brewed for the masses, but that doesn't mean is isn't hard to do.

If you think you are close to your favorite style - the true test is a side by side taste test. I have failed this test many times (actually, almost every time), even with beers that I was very proud of - but that's why the commercial guys get paid. They are good - some much better than others, but for the most part, they are good. Do they brew swill occasionally? Oh yeah, big time. Luckily, those aren't the beers I'm after.

As a brewer, I think it's fun to use the great commercial beers as a guide to improve my brewing because brewing is fun and I enjoy the process. It also keeps you humble. That's important too. I have two fridges in my beer room, one is packed with my efforts, the other with commercial beer. Whenever I feel cocky, I'll open my favorite commercial beer for a good dose of reality, then try again.

Prosit!
 

Hoosierbrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2008
Messages
811
Reaction score
19
Location
Muncie, IN
For me, I love to brew and I think it tastes great. Most of the time, I try and brew stuff that would cost me a lot more for the same amount of beer. If I wanted something like Budweiser, I would just buy it. I cannot make it any cheaper and I would probably mess it up.

I used to brew more and am now getting back into it. Many of the beers I like are close to $9 a six pack here. If I can create something similiar, then it will be cheaper for me. My neighbors all drink BMC, but that just means I do not have to share with them. SWMBO and I get to drink most of it.

Homebrewing also expanded my beer horizons. I can't say that I would have tried a barleywine before I started homebrewing. I may not have tried 90 minute IPA either. That is one of my favorite hoppy beers now. Prior to Homebrewing, I drank many different styles, but not like now. If I go to an area on a trip, I look for local brewpubs or local brewed beers to try.
 

Brewmasters Warehouse

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2007
Messages
1,504
Reaction score
17
Location
Atlanta, GA
I think good beer is good beer no matter the source or style. I prefer to drink good beer, and I do not care the source of the beer. I enjoy brewing beer and I like the beers that I brew. Overall I drink more homebrew than commercial, but I always love trying new beers.
 

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
25,666
Reaction score
4,966
Location
Whitehouse Station
I would take a guess that for every batch I make that I'm really proud of, there are probably 20 commercial versions that would kill it. I don't care at all. I'm even happy to make beers that are absolutely subpar to their commercial equivelents becuase I'm into it 50% for the hobby itself and 50% for the beer.
 

blacklab

Banned
Joined
Nov 2, 2007
Messages
2,379
Reaction score
50
Location
Portland, ME
I'd say I've only made 2-3 that are even in the territory of a decent commercial microbrew.
For me it's more about having fun experimenting with ingredients and sharing the results with my friends and family. To me the 'I made it myself' factor makes it taste great every time.
 

david_42

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2005
Messages
25,582
Reaction score
189
Location
Oak Grove
Definitely worth it. I make clone brews I can't get locally and have my own recipes that aren't available period. That doesn't stop me from hitting various brewpubs, because there are beers I like but don't want a lot of. I would never make a Belgian Wit, for example, much as I like one now & then. Then there are craft beers that are so good, I buy them by the case.
 

Alembic

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Messages
129
Reaction score
0
Location
Vermont
I'd like to chime in here. It is an interesting question. When I first started homebrewing I was very satisfied with the results because of the quality of ingredients used as well as of course the freshness factor. And I have to tell you as I'm sure you will all agree. Things always taste better when it was your own two hands that made them.

I went through a phase where I said to myself I will never buy beer again and only drink homebrew. But time to brew became a factor so I had to out of drinking necessity start buying commercial beer but it was all craft stuff. No BMC for me. Flavor and freshness is everything. Those are the 2 biggest things I have learned from homebrewing and beer in general.

So I think any homebrewer with practice and patience can definately make better beer than what is available commercially. For the most part ;)
 

Beerthoven

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
2,173
Reaction score
39
Location
Cary, NC
One thing I've noticed is that some commercial beers that claim to have a lot of hop aroma really don't have that much compared to a dry-hopped homebrew.
 

BierMuncher

...My Junk is Ugly...
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 17, 2007
Messages
12,443
Reaction score
938
Location
St. Louis, MO
It may be easy to assume we slant towards our own beer just because we made it...but:

  • When company comes over and they head straight down to the taps in the brewshop...
  • When family asks you to brew up three kegs of beer to bring to a family gathering...
  • When the SWMBO's co-workers insist on having an after hours get together at your house...just because of the beer...

That's when you know that it is more than just a case of favoritism.

Really and truly, homebrewed beer is worth it...when it's brewed well.
 

the_bird

10th-Level Beer Nerd
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
20,969
Reaction score
598
Location
Adams, MA
If you were to look at the absolute best commercial beers out there - the Russian Rivers, etc. - it's pretty hard to match that.

If you look at the typical micro/craft brew, Sam Adams as being pretty representative - it's not that tough to make a beer that's every bit as good.

The BMC guys are obviously a lot better than most homebrewers at their chosen style, but I've had several homebrewed European pilsners that I think are far superior to most commercial examples (both imported stuff and stuff like Victory Prima Pils).
 

Rezilynt

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2008
Messages
780
Reaction score
6
Location
Bellingham, Washington
Better? that's up to the taster. Is it worth it? YES! What other hobby takes 4 - 8 hours of your time then makes you wait 3 - 12 months to see the end result?
The creativity, anticipation and the reward of tasting /sharing something that you brewed/created is definately better than going down to the store and picking something off the shelf.
 

Bob

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2007
Messages
3,928
Reaction score
167
Location
Christiansted, St Croix, USVI
Lots of really well-thought positions in this thread! I'm enjoying reading it.

For me, I started homebrewing because I had developed a taste for beer above the BMC norm and there was none of that available in central PA in 1997-8. People thought Michelob Amber Bock was too flavorful. [shudder]

Those days are long over. You can even get framboise lambic in stores in Lewistown. Whoda thunk it? So the impetus for my brewing is gone.

But the fact is that I fell in love with the process. It is like cooking. You have the control, you have the power in your hands. And it totally rocks when someone has one of your beers, not knowing you made it, has a sip, and goes "Day-um!" :mug:

But, like cooking, there is a point beyond which my time becomes too valuable. For example, it is now summer. I don't want to be challenged by a beer when I finally put the lawnmower back in the garage; I don't want to appreciate, I don't want to taste. I want an ice-cold fizzy tin of barley-pop. So in my fridge barley-pop can be found. Sure, I could make fifteen gallons of cream ale (that might last me the summer), but why bother when I can get twice as much Yuengling Lord Chesterfield for the price, with 0.00005% of the effort? Now when I want an Imperial pint of mild or bitter, that's another story. Still, if I'm out - which is rare - it's a few minutes' drive to The Ship Inn in Milford, NJ, where the handpump is always pulling bitter.

I don't flatter myself that I can make better beer at home than I made at my various professional brewing positions. I can't. I lack conicals, a yeast lab, a plate-and-frame filter, and lots of other stuff. I lack the wherewithal to make my favourite beer in the world, because I lack their brewery their fermentation chamber, their entire process and facility. But that doesn't stop me from trying every so often. That I haven't even been close - ever - won't stop me! Moreover, I have never been a good enough brewer to make a light, crisp American lager. I do not relish the challenge. So what's the point?

On the flip side, there are commercial beers for which I find my homebrewed version far superior. I think my witbier is superior to every commercial example I've ever tried, including Hoegaarden. Why? Because it's fresh - it's a couple steps from the brewery to the glass instead of a complicated distribution network. There are also beers I can make that I can't easily get commercially, like organic beers and the historical styles and recipes I love to redact.

So yes, homebrew is not better than commercial beer. :D There is a time and place for both in my life. Frankly, I think that the person who chooses one over the other is unwise to the point of folly; all you're doing is denying yourself one of life's simpler, affordable pleasures.

Cheers,

Bob
 
Top