This blog post originally appeared on www.killingthyme.net where I am a contributor. Check out Dana's site for more brewing and cooking resources!
When I started home brewing I was wide-eyed and mystified. I knew nothing about home brewing but the prospect of making my own beer intrigued me.
I began the hobby, like so many of us do, because of my friends. I knew that I liked beer, so learning how to brew my own was sort of a no-brainer. My friends invited me over during one of their brew sessions and showed me how easy it was. I had a great time and I was instantly hooked. I immediately went out and bought all of the essential equipment I needed to start. I learned so many important lessons that day but the most important was this: Beer, whether you are picking up supplies from your local brew shop, or simply enjoying a cold one, is meant to be experienced with friends and family. Beer is community. This is attested by every beer commercial you have ever seen and, if you disagree, I suggest that you may have a problem. Drinking alone is NOT what the psychologist ordered. For real.
Enjoying alcoholic drinks has always been a culinary activity for me and therefore I have lived my drinking life by one rule: If it does not taste good, do not drink it. I grew up in a fairly conservative home where drinking was taboo. I didn’t even start drinking until I was in chef school and I had to pair wine with dishes. The two have always coincided for me--food and drink, drink and food-- since that first brew session, I have recognized the deep connection between food and beer. Of course, this connection is not new; it has been there since humans first discovered fermentation. Yet, for me, it is a discovery that I have enjoyed exploring for myself. I have made bread using yeast and leftover grains from the brewing process, and I have also experimented with making my own BBQ sauce with batches of beer don't turn out. Hell, I even made ice-cream using fresh hopps for flavour (it received mixed reviews). There really is an endless connection between food and beer that is waiting to be discovered. All you need to do is start.
In Randy Mosher's book, Mastering Homebrew: The Complete Guide to Brewing Delicious Beer, he says there are two different types of home brewers: The Scientist and the Artist. You really cannot have one without the other, but each brewer leans, more or less, to one side or the other. If you haven’t guessed already, I lean on the artist side. I am much more focused on the way the beer tastes, looks, and pairs with my food than I am about my ABV (Alcohol by Volume), mash temperatures, and IBU (International Bitterness Units). Although I know that I cannot have the latter without the former.
It is easier now than ever to start brewing. Back in the day, before computers, all the calculations to make a good brew had to be done by hand. Now there are really great programs that will do the hard work for you. THANK GOD, because I would have never been able to start simply because I hate all things math. Jack Black in The School of Rock was wrong! Math is not a really cool thing and math is not a really fun thing! I know far too many people who are hesitant to start brewing because they are overwhelmed by the science and numbers but it really is not that bad. Anyone can make a good tasting beer and that is good news! All you need is to do is invest some money, time, determination, and not worry when a batch of beer does not turn out. We have all been there and, trust me, I have been there a lot. No one is expecting you to be a brew master with your first batch... except maybe you. The pressure is off, so just enjoy the process, Okay?
So you want to start home brewing? Then I recommend that you start right now. Get a group of friends together, order a pizza, grab a couple beers from your local craft brewery, gather your essential equipment, and get to it. You will be thankful that you started sooner rather than later. because if there is one hobby that truly is satisfying, it is home brewing. Home brewing is the gift that keeps on giving.