Why Do You Homebrew?

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The obvious answer, of course...
With a little holiday gift money in my pocket and a few beginner questions answered, I energetically jumped into the wide world of homebrewing earlier this year. In the dozen or so extract batches I've made since, I've found the transformation amazing in my understanding of this hobby. It's an avocation that can be as approachable as making your macaroni & cheese, all the way to being as in-depth as crafting your own space shuttle. I've had some other substantial hobbies over the years (guitar, barbecuing, etc.) but this one has got to be the most intriguing as to why' people started this pastime. In those other hobbies, no one goes to the various lengths in all areas as they do in home brewing. I've never heard of a guitar player making their own strings in order to make a particular song better, or a barbecue smoker growing their own trees to get the right kind of smoke for a certain cut of meat. But that's EXACTLY what us zymurgists do!
I have met some great brewers, judges, purveyors, tasters, and consumers of homebrew (as well as commercial & craft) beer in the past few months that have added to my deepening knowledge of beer and brewing. And I've asked them all, Why do you brew?
My question has gleaned several unique reasons as to what drives us to brew, but also, it's shed some light on what's keeping me from spending the next six month's mortgage payments on that have-to-have piece of shiny beer gear or forcing my daughter out of her room so I can condition a metric ton of fermentors. So, let's look at it through the cast of characters I've met in my short journey to get a better understanding as to why we brewers brew

So, a Master Cicerone, a Top Chef, and homebrewer walk into a bar... Boulevard's Master Cicerone Neil Witte, Chef Celina Tio and a Budding Professional Brewmaster
The Budding Professional Brewmaster
This brewer is doing anything and everything in beer. They capture wild yeast. They grow their own hops. They test a variety of comparison batches to note the differences in his ingredients or processes. The Budding Professional brews beers and styles outside their comfort zone that they know they won't like; like grapefruit ciders, spruce meads and fruit-heavy barley wines. They take courses, network with everyone in the biz, and never miss an event. And they will truly go pro at some point in the near future. The Budding Professional Brewmaster loves all things beer and is driven to learn all about it. They will make a career, and a better life, from it. There is no stopping them.
The Rogue
This person wanted to make their own beer their own way. Either they thought they could make it cheaper than buying it (or weren't of age to purchase it!) or, they want something that the commercial brewers aren't making. The Rogue, for the sheer love of beer, is driven by being different, by doing different and by brewing differently. Fearless and headstrong, the Rogues dive in and just brew, dagnabit!

That's neat Mr. Scientist Brewer, but I've got a barleywine I brewed using coal older than you.
The Scientist
The Scientist brewer loves the details. They can talk ad nauseam about water chemistry or the maillard reaction, (and sometimes both!). Small decimal points mean BIG things for them. The Scientist is driven to pre-calculate and engineer the beer before it is brewed, all the while considering the ingredient reactions, interactions with the various surfaces, temperature impacts, timing impacts all like it's a big ol' lab experiment, except that you can take it to a party later....
The Sensory Cicerone
The Sensory Cicerone smells the hops in the beer even before he's opened the bottle. He can ascertain the temperature of the strike water simply from the label design. They have a great vocabulary of deftly descriptive terms. These are the brewers armed with the strong taste and smell senses. The Cicerone brews in order to feed, expand and satisfy those unsatiated senses that they possess. They also have great memories of beers tasted from years prior. They are driven to entice and excite their senses and create magical brews with subtleties and depth and all sorts of other unctuous and delicious things that few of us mortals will ever comprehend. They tend to be highly selective in the style, ingredients and even the season when they brew.

Do I detect Feux-Coeur Francais hops being poured into a goblet?
The Mad Scientist
Different than the Scientist, the Mad Scientist wants to create the next unique and crazy beer combination. You know, the Belgian-style Jalapeno Mead with Lavender. (I probably just upset some Cicerone's out there) The Mad Scientists are driven to create stuff you just never thought of. They include some funky process like dry smoking hops over peat moss on their charcoal grill or cobbling together some steampunk, redneck, hi-tech, Frankenstein-like rig out of the gear they've got in their brewcave in order to remove the oil from the goat milk their neighbor gave them to use in that Plum and Olive Hefeweisen why not?
The Why Notter
This brewer has grown up around or been previously exposed to a lot of home brewing. The Why Notter is now of age (and means) to brew, so it seems like a common, natural thing. They have a well-rounded history and understanding of beer and brewing. They are driven to keep the family tradition alive. It would be odd for this brewer to not want to brew.
The Improver
This brewer is always tinkering to make something better. Similar to the Scientist, they too love details. The Improver is driven by perfection to produce the best beer they can, or the one to closely clone a commercial beer. They knock a step off of the brewday process; researching for hours online for that one doo-dad that will save them 10 minutes in mashing. They look for that one temperature range for cold crashing that takes their beer from really darn good to winning a blue ribbon. They brew the next brew to somehow, some way beat their last brew.
The Crafter
The Crafter makes all the other stuff that helps themselves brew. Need a stir plate? Easy-peasy. Wanna see my brew stand I made out of a ladder and some sheet pans? How about my Keezer I built out of an old airplane engine? You bet. Custom granite tap handles? I've done a couple dozen already. The Crafter is driven to make something, anything, in order to help them brew, keep them brewing, or satisfy their budget driven, creative and handy skillset.
The Partier/The Giver
These brewers are driven more by the social components of brewing and beer. They simply want to show up with a case of their latest crowd pleaser beer. And just like the ladies at the church potluck bragging about taking home the first empty deviled egg platter, there's a certain joy and pride the Partier/Giver has when their beer is the first keg emptied. These types of brewers are driven to brew for any and all events that are beer worthy, and they love to support an event and to get that joy of giving. They'll create a state of brewpetual motion by throwing a brewing party to celebrate that the last batch is now on tap...
The Hobby Brewer
The Hobby Brewer simply thinks it would a fun hobby. That, or they desperately needed to kill some time or make some extra space in their wallet. This brewer species has merely happened into the hobby by chance or luck. They have absolutely no clue they've already stepped well into the vortex ...
So, did you recognize any of your fellow brewers, or parts of yourself? I think that a lot of us have a smattering of all of these types of brewers mixed in at times. So, again, it begs the question - Why do you brew?
I just moved into temperature control and kegging, and while I'd love to get another chest freezer and a handful of kegs, I have to ask myself, Why am I brewing? I mean, who wouldn't want 10 taps raring to go and 12 more in conditioning after that? But, there is monetary, time, desire and commitment aspect that needs to be addressed as well. And can you balance it? I've met people who've left the hobby, and some who've even returned. I even hear occasionally some brewers reluctantly talk about having to brew this weekend. Which tells me it's a bit unbalanced or a chore for them.

Homebrew always tastes better when shared !!
I about sprung for another 5 kegs on the local online want ad site, but I stopped short because there's no upcoming event for me to share it with, and no way I could drink all that beer. I may have just found a bit of balance. Instead, I'll move what I've got currently fermenting into my new kegs, and look to make a better recipe for a good fall beer. We should all strive to improve our hobby for our own reasons, tempered with the very reason we're doing it.
And as for which one of those characters above is me? Well, let's just say that this hobby is all about the camaraderie of being with fellow brewers, buying some cool new toys, making some more gear, learning as much as I can about my craft, and most importantly making a beer and hoping it's a tad better beer than last time. And then maybe throwing some onions or rutabagas into a porter to see what happens Man! I love this hobby!
Now, why do you brew?
Brew on, fellow brewers! Brew on.
Vance B. Brison
Proprietor, Flying V Fermentory
Great article! I'd like to think I fall somewhere between the crafter and the cicerone, but the truth is likely closer to the giver. I enjoy brewing beer, so anytime friends or family request a batch, I'll rarely ask for anything in return. It's just another great day spent brewing for me and tasty beer for them. Bonus points are scored if I can get that person to come help with the brew!
I started as The Hobby brewer, I was riding with a guy on a field trip and he mentioned that he brews beer and I thought, "hmmm... I like beer, and making things, why haven't I made beer yet?" A few months later I was brewing. Now after almost 2 years of brewing (though not as often as I'd like) I am 100% The Improver. My beer is never good enough for me and I always want to make it better.
I've been brewing for 23 years now and probably went through some of those phases, but now I just enjoy brewing. I have no desire to be a pro, I'm not concerned with the science, I don't like just throwing stuff in a kettle and see what happens, etc. I brew because I enjoy the solitude and stressful relaxation of brewing. I enjoy creating recipes that my friends, family and I will all like, I enjoy the process as much as the beer.
I guess out of those categories, I'm a mix of why notter, crafter, partier/giver, and the hobby brewer. Moreso the why notter and hobby, as that's really why I started, but it's really evolved into partier/giver, as I've found it's really enjoyable (and nerve-wrecking) to give others homemade beer and also to make beer upon their request. I was always a DIY type of guy, so the crafter part was natural and I really like the DIY aspect of homebrewing.
The Cook brews beer because beer goes with dinner (lunch and breakfast). The Cook bakes bread. Beer is liquid bread. Not a single tasker, the brew pot is also the soup pot. The Cook follows the recipe the first time but will tweak next time. The Cook makes use of the pantry when choosing recipes. RDWAHA home brew while relaxing with the home chili and home cornbread followed by home ice cream. (Yesterday the relaxing was with The Plinian Legacy and Matzo Brei.)
@dsaavedra I have followed almost the exact same path. Totally focused on improving and trying my hand at new styles. In some dreamland I could see myself becoming the "Budding Professional". But, if I am honest with myself, that have more to do with my dislike for my current vocation than brewing skill!
I also think it is kind of fun to confuse my strange old neighbor who I am pretty sure is convinced I am cooking meth in my garage.
I'm a subsistence brewer. I love craft beer but feel it would be irresponsible to spend that much money in my financial situation. So I brew my own beer. And yes - I spent very little on equipment and actually come out way ahead by brewing as opposed to buying craft beer. That said, I'm still into improving the process, and read everything I can about brewing.
Hobby brewer here. For several years Ive been into cooking because I just like crafting enjoyable stuff with my own hands, even though it takes up a fair bit of time, and sometimes fails completely. When I realized that making good, flavorful beer at home was not all that difficult, I was kind of amazed that it had not occurred to me sooner to take a crack at it. Oh well, better late than never.
Not really feeling any of those classifications to describe myself.
I'm a kitchen-rat. I love to cook, I've worked/run a restaurant, I totally get off on making something from scratch so brewing was merely an extension of that passion for me
An important aspect for me is self-reliance - I can make it myself (and often better and cheaper) and understand the process which is immensely satisfying.
I wanted to see if I could actually make a beer that I would enjoy, don't care if anyone else likes it or not. After a couple years of brewing I can say yes, I can brew a beer that I enjoy and as it happens, many others like it too. I am pleased I got into brewing beer.
The Art of the Brew is where the fun is for me. I love trying to master the repeatability of "standard" brews.
I also love throwing things together that don't seem to make sense and have it come out mmmm mmmwah good!
In the kitchen, things like: an apple jalapeno cobbler, Habanero cinnamon fire snap cookies-- Big hits! Now put those flavors into beer(?) hmmmmm
For now I'm the hobby brewer. I still get nervous on brew day; nervous that I'll forget a step or that I didn't do something correctly. Even after all of the stress, I'm proud that I created something that I can share.
And man do I like to drink some beer:)
Thanks for writing and sharing the article.
I'm a Giver, through and through.
I started HBing when my curiosity for beer tasting was not satisfied. Not having anyone interested enough to talk beer with forced me to research on my own. Before I knew it, I was adding my first hop addition. =)
I brew because I can. Years ago prometheus stole fire from the Gods and that is exactly what we are doing. Out of these I guess I am a giver. I give till it hurts!
tired of the tasteless megaswill put out by the megabrewies at a inflated price.also i can control the quality and flavours that i drink,also can meet people with the same interests
Where's the "the person who lives in a country where passable beer costs $3 a bottle and good beer costs $6-9." Easy to save money when you see beer in the store the costs as much per bottle as it costs you to brew a gallon. Not sure I'd bother if I lived in the states.
Why do I brew? Well, you take grain, hops, water, and yeast... and make BEER! It's the closest thing to true MAGIC that I know!
I am not sure why I lie, I could probably justify any given group. I simply love brewing and feel like I get a high when I pitch the yeast and put on the airlock.
A hobby brewer who blindly stumbled into an obsession instead of a hobby. Had absolutely no idea how in depth brewing can be. I brew only when I feel like it otherwise it becomes a chore.
Idk, maybe a bit of everything. My family has a long history of distilling & making wine from a great many things. I did likewise for years. Then I decided to try brewing beer & never looked back. My favorite has been rare or extinct styles, but of late it's been chile beers. IIPA to start with, then a mole' stout...who knows where it'll wind up? I'm at the point where I brew when I feel like it...& when I can afford it.
Partier / Scientist / Hobbiest - love good beer and certain European lager styles (especially Pilsner) and hard to get exactly what I want at brew pubs. Like having good beer at home that rivals the better microbrew beer.
Seriously though I started to brew because I have a family and can't afford the craft beer I love. Through biab and reusing yeast slurry I can make delicious beer at BMC prices. Plus its an amazing process that now has me possessed!
@DromJohn - yes!
I am the Cook for sure. I may get labeled as a big beer enthusiast or some friends think I am a beer snob just because I homebrew, but it's honestly a by-product of the simple fact that drinking, eating or enjoying something you put your time and effort into is the sweetest victory!

My balance is this, if I run out of beer, I brew another 3 batches as fast, efficiently and as well as I can. This will last another 2-3 months until I run out get depressed from buying sub-par beers or paying for expensive craft beers in a bar and decide to have a 12 hour brew weekend churning out another 3 batches.
I home brew for the girls!!!
Nothing says 'chick magnet' than stirring a mash!
But honestly, fact that you can make it yourself and the endless possibilities of making a great beer....
It is like the search for the Holy Grail.
Always looking for the PERFECT BEER
Thats pretty much where I'm at after 18yrs of brewing. I just enjoy hanging out on the patio and making tasty beer that I enjoy drinking. I find it relaxing, zen-like almost. There's a tad bit of scientist in me. I do like to make new recipes or improve my go-to recipes. Still, it all just boils down to doing it because I truly enjoy doing it.
Why do I homebrew? To be totally honest, I don't know. I just looked around one day and realized "I'm homebrewing"
I have no idea how I got here.
Among other reasons. I had the desire to brew in the late 70's. Jan 1 2007 I retired. Fixed income. Go the the corner store and a 6er of Stone IPA and a 22oz of Arrogant Bastard plus tax... $20+. So as beer prices rose for the beers I like to drink home brewing became more appealing.
I collected and made equipment for 1 1/2 years then began brewing.
I love having 4 beers on tap at home with a few back up kegs ready to tap. In the long run I've saved a bundle on beer costs and now have a "beer money mug" that friends happily put money in to support the flow. They also come to brew for fun. Can't beat it. And such a great bartering commodity!
THANKS EVERYBODY ! Wow, what a community! Love the comments, and yes, there are other types of brewers out there. My group of friends, drinkers and brewers comprise mostly of what I wrote about, so I'm so pleased to see that there are EVEN MORE reasons to make beer and all that goes with it! (in fact, most of the gang said, "Hey! That's Me!" as they read the article...)
So, brew on and make good beer! Life's too short not to.
Good stuff! @Dogwalker & @hockeybrewer - that about sums it up for me! Though, a friend and I have taken the DIY to the next level with a brewing platform we created for all of our fellow home brewer/brothers & sisters alike. Check us out on FB! - https://www.facebook.com/CincinnatiPlatforms - We are going live with a Kickstarter campaign the 1st of December!