Why brew? A moment for reflection

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Amidst all the DIY brewing projects, recipes, and equipment that one can take up while brewing there is one thing that I consider to be most important, a reason to do it. Why brew at all? This is really a question of motivation, and ultimately, there is no single answer to this. But for newbies, seasoned professionals, and those that have yet to become yeasty (in that good way), having a reason for brewing is everything.
More often than not, people talk about what they brew, and how they do it? Questions people ask me are how I learned, is it difficult, how long have you been doing it..., but no one ever seems interested in why I brew, or what keeps me doing it. This isn't really a gripe, rather it is an observation. So, why do it? Why take the time to learn instead of enjoying the brews already available?
This almost sounds cynical, really, I mean, why do anything right? I think that it's good to take a moment from time to time to reflect on why one is involved in something. The answer to this is going to be different for everyone. For myself, I started because I was frustrated at the lack of options available to me. Without naming names, I moved from a place that had an exceptional array of beers from all over the world, to a place that, for all for all intents and purposes, seemed opposed to brews from the same country, let alone the rest of the world. More likely than not this was the final straw that gave me that little push.
And just like that, the camel's back was broken and I was on my way to brewing my own. For years I'd been kind of curious, and had thought, "if people could could brew in drafty monasteries and damp caves hundreds of years ago, surely I can do this in my kitchen." So I taught myself out of John Palmer's How to Brew and never looked back. And I've kept kept on with it, but why?
I don't need to brew beer. I could use that time for something else. And there's an ever growing variety of quality craft brews. Just a small exchange of money for convenience, and I could easily have a tasty beverage whenever I want. However, I really enjoy opening a bottle of my own beer. Completing a task from start to finish is a nice feeling, and the hiss from properly carbonated home-brew is the perfect punctuation to the finished task. I derive a lot of pleasure from the process of making beer, as probably a lot of other people do as well. And really, this is the whole reason I do it; I just like it. Be honest, as soon as you finish for the day and primary fermentation has only just begun, you're already thinking, "you know what would be really good to brew..." and contemplating what the next batch will be. I do.
Sure, there are endless amounts of people who could stifle the creative impulse to brew. I think at some point or another we've all run into snobby pontificating know-it-alls who are only too happy prove their superiority. It doesn't even matter if it's about beer. I even know someone who read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica because he wanted to be smarter than everyone else. These kinds of people can stuff it. Maybe they know what they're talking about, maybe they don't, but it doesn't matter. It's not their brew.

Even if frustration was what got me started, I carry on because I enjoy the fact that I'm making something. My own ability, or incompetence depending on the final product, is why I brew. Brewing is a fun hobby, and each batch is a new little challenge. And of course, the best part is that now I can have whatever kind of beer I want! I think that's as good a reason as any.
Well said. I see a growing trend back towards craft and personal sustainability hobbies/businesses which is very encouraging to experience.
True words. I have. in the last few years gotten into canning, pressure canning, cider fermenting, and finally, beer brewing. I have always been an avid cook and these are extensions of that. I gain great satisfaction in creating something that either I or others find praiseworthy. I have won a few state fair ribbons for canned goods, I am known for my Scottish shortbread and my beers are being well received by my family and a few others, so far. From the applause in high school plays to my brief dreams of being a disc jockey, to cooking, canning and brewing, I guess it's an insecurity...looking for the approval of others. And when I'm successful, I'm all in! and I'm having fun and good beer in the process!
Good points to reflect on. My father had made pumpkin wine,beer & other beverages for years in the ways of the old timers. I am,beyond a doubt,an extension of that. I swear,my grandmother could can anything. She made wine & moon,keg charred & white back in hoover's times,as pop used to say. After doing all kinds of recipes with game from hunting & fishing to making wine in my youth to gardening/canning I've done a lot. I also like old cook books,including one from Luekow's in New York. A whole book full of real German recipes from their 70th anniversary addition dated 1951. Being from Upper Bavaria,their cooking & beer brewing apparently were natural for me to gravitate to. Racing was fun,especially becoming GTP champion after some 23 years at it. Hot rods,tuners,etc were fun,but got really expensive. Then at our son's suggestion,we started brewing & I never looked back. I brew not only because it can be cheaper than the over-priced craft brews available,but it's great fun to try & bring back extinct beer styles. Besides my own takes on popular styles. To try & learn more all the time to produce that one winner seems to be the challenge. I don't think any of us would have it any other way. Your words do indeed ring true.
I make beer and dabble with DIY electronics. My wife pours candles and makes chain maille jewelry. Some people would say we're involved in the Maker Movement. We say that we're expanding our Post-apocalyptic skill set. :)
Jokes aside though, at the ripe, (not so)old age of 53, the whys don't worry me to much. I do what I do because I enjoy doing it. I derive satisfaction from the doing. That's all the reason I need.
I brew because it's a great creative outlet that let's me "science" a bit. From an early age (before I could talk) I've liked the taste of barley and the chemical reaction that we know as fermentation has interested me since junior high school. This is also a culinary product that I can make and enjoy for several weeks (days?) but if I make a pot of soup, I have to eat it all quickly or it will go bad. I have also enjoyed the good craft beers for a long time.
Needless to say, my mom was not surprised at all that I brew. When my dad asked about it, I told him that during an economic collapse, somebody who can brew beer is going to be a lot more popular that somebody who collects stamps.
Its a useful skill/art form. I'm a Chef and I enjoy cooking for the same reasons I love to brew. You are creating something (mostly from the ground up, level of involvement in both cases varies) and you can artfully create something that's never existed before and may never again. Its a true passion hobby for me.
I started kit brewing because I couldn't afford normal beer
I started partial mash brewing because I wanted something that tasted better that was still cheap
I started all-grain brewing because I wanted 'the good beer', and as a side benefit, it was even cheaper than kit brewing. Cost no longer matters, having a good baseline in the science, I now focus on the art, I went with an automatic, electric HERMS system with pressure fermenters, Perlick taps, and various other odds and ends because I now seek the most awesome beer I can imagine and cost is no longer even on the radar
I am a complete novice brewer but I have been making wine and mead and hard cider for a number of years and I think my reason for getting into this activity - including brewing - is because more and more of the world I inhabit forces me to be a consumer of more and more complex products and systems where the human element is more and more disengaged. Brewing (and bread making and gardening) allows me to spend a few hours in contact with simpler things, things that I can manipulate but which I don't master as much as learn to cooperate with.
I'm glad people enjoyed this article, and thank you all for reading. As for the painting, I have no idea. I didn't have anything I could use to accompany what I wrote so this one was offered by the moderator(s) at Homebrewtalk.
Excellent read. I'd like to throw my 2c in and say that while I can get pretty much any beer my heart desires from a store, It's more satisfying drinking one of my own. I believe things are better when they're done with my own 2 hands.
It is a creative outlet for most. I believe everyone needs to make or create something. Beer is a great way to create something from almost nothing and it gives me a great sense of accomplishment when I finally get to drink a nice cold home brew.
Great write up, quick and to the point.
For me it was to understand how it's done and gain access to something that isn't on shelves. I can get a decent variety if I want to drive 30 - 45 min one way. But, even then if I want a dark saison I can't get it without ordering online, if I want an Oktoberfest year round it's almost impossible unless you stock up on it. By making my own I have what I want in roughly 6 weeks, just takes a little planning.
Beer brewing is pretty fantastic. You do something that thousands, in fact tens of thousands of brewers from ancient history up until now have been perfecting up until this magical point in brewing history where we have all the equipment and science we need to make delicious brews for many, many people, on bigger scales and on smaller 5gal scales. Great article, it is important to think about your motivation to do the things that you do day in and day out. Each thought thunk adds to your depth just like that, building on your already present complexity. I think one of the biggest things for me about why I brew is because it enhances who I am as a person each time I go at it by myself or with friends. It enhances relationships on brew day because were all figuring it out together, and on drinking night when were all partaking together. Its just one thing out of many that makes me a better person each day.Peace

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