Back to the Basics

Dave Conz has an interesting article about Homebrewing over at Slate, along with a nice, short video that gives a basic introduction to how it's done.

I'll now admit that I've got a 5-gallon batch of homebrew porter aging in the other room as I write. This is my first attempt and will probably not be my last.

Why do it? Some people argue cost - that you can get high quality beer for less money than buying craft beer in stores. Others argue that it's a fun activity and nice to say you made something yourself. I'm somewhere in the middle. Yes, it's a little less money (but not a lot) and it's great to be able to say you accomplished it (even if you're not as good at it as your favorite microbrewery).

That said, the reason to homebrew is the same as the reason to roast your own coffee: freshness. Both beer and coffee are best when they're freshest, and the easiest way to guarantee it is to do the work yourself, controlling the process from beginning to end.

More generally though, the increasing popularity of these DIY activities is a reversal of the trend for a long time that convenience should be the priority in life. The popularity of cooking shows on TV, and "foodie" culture seems to indicate that people have realized that if you want really good food and really good drinks, you can achieve it by spending some effort doing it yourself, or spending a lot of money to have someone do it for you. But if you go for what's cheap or what's quick, you pay for it by sacrificing that quality.