Where Have All The Brewers Gone?

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sremed60

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I'm relatively new to the home brew/craft beer scene. I brewed my first beer, (an extract kit), in June 2015. For whatever reasons, I immediately became passionate, (my wife would say "obsessed"), about every aspect of this hobby. I began reading everything I could get my hands on about the history of beer, the "craft beer" movement, the science involved in brewing, water profiles, mash schedules, techniques, brew systems, styles, the internet and how hype affects the market, and on and on.

And although I haven't been involved long enough to form an experienced or educated opinion, I can't shake this feeling that I've somehow shown up to the party after everyone else has gone home. It seems like no matter what I search for online about home brewing, there was all kinds of buzz and activity posted in 2009, 2010, 2011, on up to late 2014 and maybe early 2015. But then it seems like everything tapered off drastically. It seems like there used to be all kinds of thriving home brew clubs one could join, but when you click on the websites they're either gone or haven't been updated in years.

Just wondering if anyone else has noticed a decline in the enthusiasm. Like I said, I'm new to the scene so I can't really speak from experience about what it was like 10 years ago. I can only go by what I see now - even in the year that I've been involved.

Most hobbies are more fun when you have other people to share with. It seems difficult to find fellow home brewers, yet when I do searches it seems like 5 or 10 years ago there was all kinds of activities to participate in.

Just an observation

Cheers :mug:
 
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I just joined a new team @ work and we had a town hall where everyone introduced themselves, what they did, liked, etc. More than half were homebrewers. I think homebrewing has lost its "outlaw" status, but it's definitely alive and well around me.

What part of the country are you in?
 

FirstAidBrewing

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It all depends on who you choose to hang out with. I love brewing but I don't take it too seriously; I want to make good beer but could care less how it does in a competition. I found that because of this, I didn't gel well with my local homebrew club. Too many poeple who thought they knew everything. From what I've heard that atmosphere has caused that club to dwindle significantly. I think the enthusiasm comes in different styles. One size doesn't fit all. So I'm sure it's there, but silent. Another reason I like this forum... I've found more people he re that share my view than at the local clubs.
 

RedlegEd

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@sremed60. I think you'll find that "obsession" is a word used quite often to describe one's passion for this hobby (my SWMBO uses it too.) I'm not sure you can attribute the reduction of online activity in HBT to the lack of enthusiasm, rather, the sophistication of the folks that participate. I think there is an expectation for a member to do his/her "due diligence" of searching the forums for an answer before popping a question, but that certainly won't stop folks here from helping, answering the question, or just offering advice. I've found this forum and it's members to be an incredibly valuable resource for my journey into this hobby/obsession. The only reason I haven't joined my local brew club is because of my travel schedule, and inability to attend meetings. There are two LHBS in my area, and both are thriving, so I know there are lots of folks who are homebrewers. Just for giggles, if you wonder how many people participate, have a look at the very bottom of the page in the Forum section. As I write this, there are 1544 people on HBT right now. Brew on!
:mug:
 

mongoose33

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I haven't been doing this as long as you, but I think the hobby is maturing, and could even be called mature.

In virtually all such hobbies, there's a period at the beginning of tremendous innovation and excitement as people try and learn new things. There's a feeling of being on the leading (bleeding?) edge, of invention and sharing of results.

But as the hobby matures, some of that dissipates. Brewing is much easier, from what I can tell, than it was 15 years ago. Yeasts are better, malts have gotten better over time, equipment has improved, the process of brewing is better understood.

**************

When I have done searches on various brewing topics in Google, I have seen the same thing you have--around 2009 to maybe 2012 there was a flurry of very interesting threads about this and that. It seems like that was the heyday in some respects, but I've figured out something about that.

If I control the search date (use the tools option in Google) and limit it to within one year, guess what I find? The same stuff, only recently. I'm not sure how Google's search algorithms work, but i suspect they include in some fashion how many times a link has been clicked. Those links from 2009, by virtue of their longevity compared to more recent ones, have been clicked more--and I think they're more likely to show up in a seach.

So when I search, I generally limit to the last year. I want the most recent info rather than what was the case 7 or 8 years ago. Things change. Best practices improve. Sources of equipment increase; variations abound.

***********

I think there's some clear evidence the hobby has matured; look at the interest in non-traditional beers and other fermented beverages. Mead. Sours. Lambic. Wild Fermentation. Home brewers are pushing the envelope, but it's in these "fringe" areas, if you can call it that, where it seems the envelope is being pushed. Brewers are looking for places to explore, and those places exist on the margins.

You see pushing the envelope in equipment and methods, but even that is likely maturing. HERMS. RIM. Brew Stands. Burners or Electric. Conical or plastic or SS fermenters. Plastic carboys. The improvements now are generally of degree, not of fundamental nature. That's normal for any area--as it matures, improvements are made on the edges, not at the core.

***************

The good news for new brewers like me is that it *is* easier than it was. Further, I have the internet to help me learn. There are lots of resources, and much of that is very good. While there are still areas of disagreement and difference (do you need to rack to a secondary? When? Why?) they also are areas where consensus is forming.
 
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sremed60

sremed60

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... I think homebrewing has lost its "outlaw" status, but it's definitely alive and well around me.

What part of the country are you in?
I'm in the Phoenix Arizona area.

And after reading the replies and re-reading my post I wanted to add that I posted this more out of curiosity, wondering if those who have been brewing for some time noticed a downward trend.
It all depends on who you choose to hang out with. I love brewing but I don't take it too seriously; I want to make good beer but could care less how it does in a competition. I found that because of this, I didn't gel well with my local homebrew club. Too many poeple who thought they knew everything. From what I've heard that atmosphere has caused that club to dwindle significantly. I think the enthusiasm comes in different styles. One size doesn't fit all. So I'm sure it's there, but silent. Another reason I like this forum... I've found more people he re that share my view than at the local clubs.
I agree. When I decided to get into this a year ago I had never known anyone who home brewed. Everyone I know who drinks, drinks Bud Light, (or Corona if they want to be thought of as cosmopolitan). I've had a few of them try some of my beers, but when Bud Light is their standard the feedback isn't usually helpful. I suspect it's the same feeling I'd get if I fed a pig caviar; the feeling that I just wasted a perfectly good beer. Occasionally I think it would be nice to sit down with someone who shares the hobby and passion, swap some home brews and discuss brewing techniques. I emphasize the word "Occasionally" because I'm not what you'd call a social butterfly. I'm not much for organized groups or scheduled meetings or any of the typical group dynamics that go along with it.
... I've found this forum and it's members to be an incredibly valuable resource for my journey into this hobby/obsession...
Yes and no - it's like anything else. There's all kinds of opinions out there; some based in fact - some not. Reading through the forums gives you an idea about how many different opinions there are for every aspect, which can sometimes be more confusing than helpful. I found that asking a question isn't much better - you still get all the varied opinions. If someone asks a question about bottling, a response from a "keg only" zealot usually doesn't serve much purpose.
 

TorMag

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Yes and no - it's like anything else. There's all kinds of opinions out there; some based in fact - some not. Reading through the forums gives you an idea about how many different opinions there are for every aspect, which can sometimes be more confusing than helpful. I found that asking a question isn't much better - you still get all the varied opinions. If someone asks a question about bottling, a response from a "keg only" zealot usually doesn't serve much purpose.
There are always those who will want to give their opinion on a subject even if they are not answering the question. You have to be your own filter.
 

jmark

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... I've had a few of them try some of my beers, but when Bud Light is their standard the feedback isn't usually helpful. I suspect it's the same feeling I'd get if I fed a pig caviar; the feeling that I just wasted a perfectly good beer.
Sorry - fell off my chair at that visual!

I'd agree that things seem to be getting better and better for home brewers and with the variety of ingredients available today along with all the information, it really makes it even more impressive what those who have brewed for decades really went through to create outstanding homebrew.

I do think the Great Recession had a large effect on folks looking at ways to cut back. I'm not sure I get the connection with the economy completely, but there seemed to be a 'back to basics' attitude that started to get more pervasive and it seemed that around the same time there became a big increase in demand for food and drinks that were sourced locally. I think homebrewing naturally fits that attitude so there probably was a huge influx of brewers around that time and in subsequent years (I count myself in that group, but I got interested when my wife bought me a 'gag' gift Mr. Beer kit for Christmas in 2009 - something I'm sure she really wishes she could take back).

Anyway - like I say... I think there's still a lot of homebrewers out there, but maybe not quite the same numbers?
 
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Most hobbies are more fun when you have other people to share with. It seems difficult to find fellow home brewers, yet when I do searches it seems like 5 or 10 years ago there was all kinds of activities to participate in.
Have you considered joining the Arizona Society of Homebrewers? It's an extremely large club (~500 paid members) and has all sorts of events/meetings/happy hours/etc....

The website isn't used much, but the group is pretty active on Facebook...
 

asoltero213

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Have you considered joining the Arizona Society of Homebrewers? It's an extremely large club (~500 paid members) and has all sorts of events/meetings/happy hours/etc....

The website isn't used much, but the group is pretty active on Facebook...
What part of phoenix are you in? I am in the west valley in Litchfield Park, I brew big so it last me longer. 4 ten gallon batches in a couple of days. I enjoy other homebrewers company. I know a few cats in the valley. I use to hang go to the Brewmeisters Anonymous meetings but I haven't seen much activity from them lately.
 
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sremed60

sremed60

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What part of phoenix are you in? I am in the west valley in Litchfield Park, I brew big so it last me longer. 4 ten gallon batches in a couple of days. I enjoy other homebrewers company. I know a few cats in the valley. I use to hang go to the Brewmeisters Anonymous meetings but I haven't seen much activity from them lately.
I'm in the NW valley, (Surprise). From what I heard there hasn't been much activity in Brewmeisters Anonymous for some time. I'm still debating if I want to spend the money to join A.S.H.

I get a lot of pleasure from this hobby. But... my wife doesn't drink at all. I have a few friends who drink Bud Light, but they could care less about the brewing process, ingredients, the science, different styles, different flavors... To them, beer is a tasteless odorless liquid used as a medium to deliver alcohol into the system. The alcohol is the only aspect to be consideration and they don't want a lot of body, aroma and taste to get in the way and slow down the transfer of alcohol from can to bloodstream.

When it's time to crack open one of my brews and taste it for the first time, it would be nice to have a fellow brewer who appreciates the hobby to share it with and get feedback.

Going to meetings and hanging out with 20 or 30 people??? Not so much
 

hogg44

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I get a lot of pleasure from this hobby. But... my wife doesn't drink at all. I have a few friends who drink Bud Light, but they could care less about the brewing process, ingredients, the science, different styles, different flavors... To them, beer is a tasteless odorless liquid used as a medium to deliver alcohol into the system. The alcohol is the only aspect to be consideration and they don't want a lot of body, aroma and taste to get in the way and slow down the transfer of alcohol from can to bloodstream.

When it's time to crack open one of my brews and taste it for the first time, it would be nice to have a fellow brewer who appreciates the hobby to share it with and get feedback.

Going to meetings and hanging out with 20 or 30 people??? Not so much
Ditto.
 

Mainer

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Locally, I find a lot of people who thought always meant to take up home brewing but never did, or did it once and never got around to a second batch. I think in part it's because there are so many great craft breweries and nanobreweries around here that the payoff of homebrewing is reduced for them.

Which is fine with me, because a lot of those people are willing to give me all the bottles and carboys they hoarded.
 

paperairplane

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Start a club - there wasn't a good club local to me, networked with a few dudes on facebook and now I have 3-4 guys I brew with a lot.
 

dsniegocki

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LMAO at that.
Seriously, those kits should have some type of warning for the poor significant others... they think, "oh how cute, he'll make a batch of beer with this thing."

No, he'll become obsessed with water profiles and hopping techniques and take over your kitchen.
 

Mainer

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Seriously, those kits should have some type of warning for the poor significant others... they think, "oh how cute, he'll make a batch of beer with this thing."

No, he'll become obsessed with water profiles and hopping techniques and take over your kitchen.
My in-laws gave me my first brewing kit as a Christmas present. Before I opened it, my wife said, "Just a disclaimer: I suggested this idea, but I do not support it."
 

TorMag

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My in-laws gave me my first brewing kit as a Christmas present. Before I opened it, my wife said, "Just a disclaimer: I suggested this idea, but I do not support it."
My in-laws gave me my kit this past Dec. I was told not to open it before Christmas, however it came delivered to the house in a box that said Midwest Supplies all over it. Brewed that kit before Christmas came around. I've become obsessed with brewing. In the past four months I brewed 5 times, built a keezer, got a conical fermentor, and moved to BIAB. I thought my wife would be upset with the hobby, but Friday night she went with me to get refill my C02 and she was looking at Father's Day presents......
 

hogg44

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What part of phoenix are you in? I am in the west valley in Litchfield Park, I brew big so it last me longer. 4 ten gallon batches in a couple of days. I enjoy other homebrewers company. I know a few cats in the valley. I use to hang go to the Brewmeisters Anonymous meetings but I haven't seen much activity from them lately.
I'm also in LP, but I brew small. 1 - 1.75 gal. batches every couple weeks.
 
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