Let’s face it homebrewing is a cool hobby. I mean come on, making your own beer… it doesn’t get any better. This “cool factor” is enough to start many people on the road to becoming a brewing hobbyist, but just in case you’re still on the fence, have some doubts or questions, or believe it’s something you can’t do; let me assuage those uncertainties. You can be a homebrewer! Listed below are ten good reasons to take up this noble and fun hobby.
- Save Money
The price of ingredients for a 22 Litre batch of beer varies extensively depending on the style you plan to brew and the ingredients involved, but in most cases it will be less expensive than buying 48 bottles of comparable beer. No, it’s not going to be cheaper than buying Castle Light or any other macro beer, but if you’re thinking about homebrewing my guess is you don’t drink these cheap beers anyway. It will also depend on how you buy your ingredients.
For example, you can buy individual ingredients or buy pre-packaged ingredient kits. Most newbies to brewing opt for the ingredient kits. On top of this, you have to consider the different types of ingredient kits. An extract kit will usually cost a bit more than an all-grain kit and generally kits are more expensive than buying the ingredients piecemeal. But you could say the kits makeup for it in convenience.
As an example let’s compare a NFP Premium Lager Kit, to buying 2 cases (48 x 340ml = 16.320L) of Breweries finest (Castle Lager).
So the Kit will cost you R253 including 1kg Brewhancer Light and two cases (48 x 340ml) of Castle Lager will cost R498
So our cost per litre comparison is as follows: NFP Premium Kit costs R11.50 per Litre and the Castle R31.12 per Litre. Ok so the Castle is already in bottles and your homebrew is still in your Fermenter.
You can get 48 x 440ml reusable craft bottles for R410 and 50 Bottle caps for R20 so this will add R19.54 per Litre. So your first batch of NFP Premium Beer will cost you R31.04 per litre capped in 440ml bottles and there after R12.40 per litre capped in reused 440ml bottles.
So now you will be drinking what is essentially craft beer for less than R13.00 a litre, so let’s take a look at what it would cost us to buy Craft beer instead of making it.
So craft beer bought in a chain bottle store sells for around R306 for 12 x 340ml bottles so that means R19.12 per litre.
So as they say in the classics “the sums can’t lie”, any way you look at it brewing your own beer is fun and good and it will save you money.
- Take Part in “The Age Old Tradition”.
The history of brewing stretches back into the Neolithic. That’s 9,000 years of tradition you have the opportunity to take part in. Most of this history is on the small scale. Long before brewing became a commercial practice it made up an important piece of the daily life in the home and community, and the beer produced was a significant part of the daily sustenance.
You have the distinct opportunity to continue these traditions; to carry on brewing practices on a more intimate, in-the-home scale.
- Starting Isn’t As Expensive As You Think
Many people seem to have this idea that all sorts of special expensive equipment are needed to start homebrewing. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
You can buy a “Starter” Equipment kit for around R1400.00, and it will have everything you need to brew your first batch of beer excluding bottles. This is a great way to get into the hobby to see if it’s something you want to proceed with.
Sure there are other pieces of equipment that are handy to have, that make the brewing life easier, but for your first couple of beginner batches of beer a minimalist equipment kit is all you really need.
- Makes an Impressive Gift
There’s nothing like a homemade gift. It speaks of thought, caring, and love in a way a bought gift can never attain. Homemade beer makes a great gift no matter the occasion and believe me people will be impressed.
Brew up a special batch for a wedding. Need some Christmas stocking stuffers? That Winter Warmer you’ve been aging for the last month would be perfect. Have a beer-loving friend about to celebrate a birthday? Sounds like it’s time to brew a chocolaty birthday-cake porter. Why bring wine to that party when you can bring a nice bottle of Belgian Dubbel (unless you’ve made the wine yourself of course. Then by all means bring the wine and the Belgian Dubbel).
- Anyone Can Make Good Beer
Anyone can make beer equal to those lining your local bottle store. It’s not rocket science it’s brew science, and… *whispering* you don’t even have to know the science bit to do it. It can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. If you can follow directions, have good cleaning practices, and respect the yeast your beer will turn out fine.
Maybe the hardest part of the whole process is bottling your home brew and it’s not actually “hard” it’s just monotonous and time-consuming, which makes it feel difficult.
- You will Appreciate Beer More
Do you know the difference between an ale and a Lager? When you stare at the shelves in a bottle shop are you seeing only “light” and “dark?”
Learning the processes, along with the blood, sweat, and tears (hopefully not too much blood) that goes into making good beer will expand your world.
You’ll appreciate great beer more and learn what might be causing that niggling off-taste in sub-par beer. You’ll learn what processes and ingredients create different flavours/aromas and what a difference good ingredients make.
- To Your Health
There is no doubt, drinking too much beer isn’t healthy or wise, but the health benefits of beer in moderation has been proven. Beer contains antioxidants, fibre, protein, vitamin B, and is one of the richest sources of silicon, an important element necessary for the synthesis of collagen and elastin by our bodies. And it is also important for the health of the connective tissues, bones, cartilage, tendons, and joints.
These nutrients come from the ingredients used in the beer. The malt, yeast, hops, and other ingredients all play a part in the beer’s final nutrient makeup, but it doesn’t end here. Brewing practices also play a significant role, especially filtering. Filtering is something almost all commercial craft brewers do — unless creating a style where some haze is expected. The finer a beer is filtered the fewer of these nutrients make it into the finished beer. Brewing at home puts you in control. Don’t filter and you’ll have healthier beer.
But you can go a step further here. Ancient brewers used many herbs and other ingredients (raw honey for instance) that produced a product often much closer to a health tonic than a simple drink. Very few of these herbs have found a place in commercial brewing.
Sage, Dandelion, Heather, Chamomile and many, many other plants with amazing health benefits are all options to the adventurous homebrewer. Just be sure you research the herb a bit before you brew with it; there are a few out there that can have negative effects.
Brew at home and you are in charge. You can experiment in ways that would never make it to the commercial shelves. Love a particular brew from a particular company, odds are you can find a clone recipe for that specific beer somewhere online, and you’ll be able to make it cheaper than you can buy it. Have you always wondered what a particular herb might taste like in a beer; now’s your chance to find out. Want to add a hint of cherries to that IPA extract kit you just bought; no one is stopping you. Find an old historical recipe with no commercial equivalent; brew it up.
Brewing is an adventure; from the adventure of honing your brewing practices and ingredients until you have a spot-on replica of a given beer style, to the adventure of going into uncharted waters and brewing something weird and wonderful.
There is something wonderful about creating great yourself. Painters, writers, bakers, carpenters, cooks, jewellers, and on and on all find deep-seated pleasure in the craft of bringing something of themselves into the world.
Knowing what makes great beer and being able to replicate the process is empowering. You can go home after a long day at work pull a beer from the fridge and enjoy something you’ve made. You can go to a pub have a beer and taste discerningly, knowing that if you really wanted to you could go home and work up an exact replication or make some slight change. Homebrewing is liberating. You are no longer tied to what’s available on the shelves or in the pub.
- Fun with New Friends
Almost every decent sized town has some sort of home brewing club. This is a social hobby and these folks (Home brewers) love beer and love helping others start their own brewing journey. If you have questions or need a little help with a process there is no better place to seek answers. You’ll build new friendships in a community of like-minded hobbyists.
A great way to shorten your brew day is to brew with a friend. You can share a beer or two, along with the work; talk, joke and before you know it the brew will be in the in the fermenter and you’ll be raising a toast to a brew day well done.
You really have no excuses now do you? It is a hobby that can be easy, healthy, ever-changing, cheap, innovating, and friendly. What more could you ask for out of a hobby? It’s time to get out there and brew something!