So why is home brewing important? History and tradition are two big reasons that come to mind, as well as the love of creating and the dream of going pro. Most who enter this “hobby” soon find that it is all-consuming, and that it lends it self to the creative process in so many engrossing ways. Homebrewers are the hobbyist’s from hell – we are nerds, cooks, inventors, and scientists all rolled into one person! Home brewers will read everything they can get their hands on about this craft, and then often learn other skills such as malting grains or welding to be able to make the process unique to them. In the end they will gladly share all the hard earned knowledge they have painstakingly collected with anyone who will listen to them.
Since time immemorial (or at least a few thousand years ago), there has been a common theme in history…the production of alcohol! When Norman the Nomad let some water get into his grains, allowing for fermentation, beer was born! Beer has been used as medicine, money, and social lubrication ever since. It helped to build the pyramids, kept sailors and pilgrims healthy on long sea voyages, and slaked the thirst of troops in hot climates. In the times of antiquity beer was been made at home, but eventually its financial potential was realized and beer became big business. But it has been in the relatively recent past that making beer at home has regained a foot hold, and what a comeback it has become. Home brewing has seen a rapid increase in participation around the world. Because of the growth of brewing at home, there has been resurgence in old forgotten styles of beer and brewing techniques and traditions.
Home brewers are a reservoir of brewing traditions. Because the amateur community can invest the time in experimentation they can play with these historic brewing methods, discover how they worked, and then add it to their bag of brewing tricks. For instance, Partigyle brewing is an old technique that allows the brewer to get two or three batches of wort out of a single batch of grains. This traditional way of brewing was practiced in Scotland hundreds of years ago and fell out of vogue when more modern brewing practices where adopted. Homebrewers have resurrected this technique in part to reinvest in a traditional style of brewing, and also to get two beers for little more than the price of one! Today we see modern breweries like Sierra Nevada using Partigyle brewing to create new lines of beer.
Most of the professional brewers in this country had their roots in the world of home brewing. The basic brewing processes are the same on both sides of the street; it is the equipment and the scientific knowledge that separates home brewers from professionals. But today with books like “How to Brew” By John Palmer, publications like “Brew Your Own”, and shows like The Brewing Networks’ “The Jamil Show” and “Can You Brew It?”, that scientific brewing knowledge is taking hold and blurring the lines between professional and amateur brewers. You cans see the evidence of this in the proliferation of nano-breweries around the country. Even in our own state of New Hampshire we have a number of very small scale brewers, such as White Birch Brewing, Throwback Brewery, or Squam Brewing, who are creating some great beers. And the starting point in most cases? Yes, you guessed it – homebrewing! It’s where they got their passion and drive to move forward into life as a professional brewer.
So what is the initial point of contact in the real world for both current and aspiring home brewers? The local home brew shop! These establishments are like mechanics – when you find a good one you don’t let them go. At Kettle to Keg we strive to be the best in New Hampshire for homebrew supplies and education. We aren’t just salespeople out to sell you the latest and greatest equipment, we are brewers as well. It is likely that we have made the same mistakes that budding brewers will, and when you’re ready to advance your craft we are always happy to provide you with advice that will help you move forward. Because let’s face it: When all is said and done, we love to talk beer and brewing just like you!
This is the inaugural post of the new Kettle to Keg blog. Come back often for homebrewing information, write-ups on new equipment, specials and blog-only deals, as well as general beer-related articles. If you have any suggestions or comments about what you read here, write them below or email the store directly and someone will get back to you soon. Most importantly though, please come in and see the store – it has grown recently and is both better looking, better organized, and packed with even more homebrew goodness. See you soon!
Your friends at K2K