Brewing beer at home is a popular pastime for many people. Even in the UK where the public house culture is very strong, home brewing beer has a big following. Successive governments have increased the tax on buying beer in pubs and so many people have looked to save money by making beer at home.
There are both plus points and minus points to home brewing beer. The big advantage often cited by those who make beer at home is that they can select their own ingredients. The reason why this is an advantage is that people who brew beer at home can be sure they are using only good quality ingredients. For many people this means only using organically grown crops for the ingredients. By home brewing beer they can be sure that they will drink beer that does not contain any artificial chemicals or additives.
People who home brew beer generally are confident they will have a constant supply of beer, which is especially good for when guests unexpectedly arrive or a ball game is on the television. As the raw ingredients of beer are simple (they are just water, malt, yeast and hops), a home beer brewer can make beer in regular batches and store in the garden shed or outhouse. Lots of people find the very act of brewing beer a relaxing act and a stress reducer, even before they have tasted the fruits of their labour.
However, it is worth noting that home brewing beer is not for everyone. The first big disadvantage is that if you don't brew your beer correctly you could end up with a concoction that tastes horrible; something that you would not be proud of serving up to your friends. Even if you know what you are doing, just one mistake could lead to a ruined batch of beer both in looks and taste.
A second negative for home brewing beer is that it takes a lot of time and effort. For most people it is much easier to pop into the supermarket on the way home from work and buy their beer than to wait for between thirty to thirty five days for a home brew. Beer making takes a long time; around ten to twelve hours for brewing and over a month for the beer to age.
Home beer making has become easier over the years. In the past at the very minimum it would have been necessary to mix the brew carefully, constantly check the gravity of the fermenting brew and then at precisely the right time transfer the brew into a barrel or bottles. However things have been simplified by the introduction of home brewing kits. In most cases these kits have a fermentation vessel that both looks and works like a barrel and this makes the entire process much easier to manage. The brewing and aging happen in this vessel. It just needs to be kept in a warm place for a few weeks and then when it is ready poor out directly. The risk of contaminates entering the brew during fermentation and aging is vastly reduced. It is possible to get a whole range of different beer types in home brew kits, even lager. Home beer making really is a lot easier than it used to be.
For me the advantages of making beer at home far outweigh the disadvantages. The taste of home made beer is pretty unique. There is a wide range of beer types you can make. You can make it as mild or as strong as you like. You have control over the ingredients you can use. As you become more experienced you can move from the safety of home brewing kits to making your beer right from scratch. It is a relaxing pastime and provides you with an immediate topic of conversation when friends come around to visit. All in all home brewing beer is lots of fun. Try it.
Michael Saville has written more articles about home brewing beer. These can be found at http://www.home-brewing.org The site provides information and advice on making beer at home, home brewing kits, and various recipes you can try.