With the growing popularity of microbrews and home brewing, a lot of people are writing about the process of making beer as if it’s a new thing that you can do it yourself. Of course, this is nowhere close to true, as beer has existed for centuries, long before the machinery necessary for commercial production was even conceptualized.
In ancient cultures there have been gods and goddesses worshipped solely for their relationship with beer. Brewing at home was as common as cooking in certain time periods. Martin Luther’s wife brewed beer in their bathtub. It was not uncommon for women to be the brewers of the house, since it was just an extension of cooking.
Despite the popularity of alcohol, our society has attached to it a certain taboo. Perhaps this is because of our culture’s affinity for excess. Religious parties have long embraced beer and wine into their rituals and even everyday life.
Many monasteries include brewing facilities, where the monks put their discipline to use by creating carefully crafted brews. Many are still made today, and are even sold commercially. The monks responsible for the Chimay line of beers even make a choice brew for themselves, which has a lower alcohol content, but just as much flavor as the higher abv beers meant for the public.
Today, brewing has caught on in a variety of subcultures. In the Northwest United States, you can find eco-conscious hipsters touting the lack of chemicals in their brews. It makes sense for those who grow their own food to extend that practice to their beverages. The techniques used in making beer can also be used to make ciders, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages such as soda.
The reason brewing is seen as a new practice is because after prohibition, brewing beer at home was still illegal in most states. Making wine was fine, but the law did not mention beer. Most states have changed this throughout the years, but two, Mississippi and Alabama are still holding out. Both currently have legislation in the works to legalize the production of beer in the home.
But even when home brewing is legal, it can be subject to other laws. Many states have regulations about the alcohol percentage and amount of beer that can be produced without a license. If you want to brew your own beer, check your state’s laws before you get started.
Many state fairs and other community events have home brewing competitions. In Oregon in 2010, it was discovered that the law did not allow for home-produced alcoholic beverages to be consumed outside the home. This put a temporary stop not only to competitions, but to home brewers’ meetings as well. Luckily, the law moved semi-swiftly once this discovery was made, and everything was restored to its’ rightful state before the State fair in 2011.
As alluded to above, one of the appeals of home brewing is the control aspect. You get to decide the alcohol content, flavor, and texture of your beer. You don’t have to put in any preservatives or chemicals that you don’t want to, and you are aware of every ingredient in your brew. You also get the benefit of a new hobby where you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Do you brew your own beer? If so, what influenced you to start?
This guest post is written by Jake Metzler, a home brewer who likes to write about his hobbies. He has a ridiculous collection of bottles, bottle caps, home brewing supplies, and other alcohol paraphernalia.
© 2013 Craft Beer Collective / Away Team Media