A couple years ago, after tasting some of the beer made from a good friend of me, I though or starting to brew my own batches of beer. My friend explained me the overall process and convinced me that it’s was really easy and almost anyone can do it. As he said, you just need some basic equipment, you follow the recipes and you will get to enjoy your own craft beer.
So I went to my local brewing accessories shop and decided to give it a try. I purchased the initial brewing kits; the girl working there explained me the process that I need to follow and started my first batch of beer.
I did a couple of batches and realised that home brewing was cool for a while, then I stopped for many reasons. As an advice for the new future brewers, here the 10 reasons why I stopped this process and why I returned to the normal process of buying craft beers from my local beer store.
Like most of you, combining a full time job as an entrepreneur and a social life balance is difficult. With all the activities possible and the number of minutes available in a week are priceless. For me, brewing was fun for the first couple of batches that I was doing because I was curious about the process and I was discovering the brewing world. Although, after a couple of batches, I realised that the process of home brewing is taking a lot of time and doesn’t bring a lot of value to my life agenda. After looking at the situation, I prefer to have someone else take part of these « repeatable » steps and spend time somewhere I bring more values anyway. When needed, I can still go to the retail store and buy myself a good craft beer that I can drink with friends and relax.
When brewing, you also need to plan a couple of week in advance your operations because there are critical steps that needs to be done in 7 days, 2 weeks after the brewing process. Etc. What can you do if you travel often for you work? Literraly, fitting the brewing schedule with a work schedule is tough and there no way to accomplish these steps virtually so far! J
It’s true that the process seams simple. Especially, when you are using pre-processed ingredients to make your own beer. But after brewing a couple of batch, you discover that there are a lot of steps involved, requiring a lot of special equipment, techniques and knowledge to develop specific beer recipes.
Let’s be honest, the final quality might be good when you’re making your own beer, but very often it isn’t. The process of beer making is a trial and error process and needs a lot of knowledge of the process to detect all the variables that might have a negative influence on the final quality of the product. Very often, you end up with a beer that doesn’t taste good and it’s very hard to know why you have that taste. Is this because you didn’t filtered the yeast correctly, is this because you didn’t waited enough in the fermentation process, etc. With very few knowledge on the subject, it’s difficult to find the cause related to that and to stop this problem from happening in the future.
Making beer can be messy sometimes and requires almost a specific spot of your house dedicated to the process. If you are living alone, it might not be a problem, but if you have a wife or a girlfriend, the chances that she will not allow you to use the kitchen to build your brewing laboratory and display your not very sexy brewing equipment exposal. Some people are lucky to have enough space or a dedicated room or garage to leave all their brewing setup but unfortunately, it’s not my case.
Another mess often underestimated by the current home brewers if the washing process. When you talk with them, it’s not hard, you simply need to wash sanitize all your equipment and bottles and it’s over. But for someone missing time and space to do this, it’s often a problem. Where do you wash all the equipment? In your brand new kitchen sink? Unfortunately, I live in a country where we have terrible winters and doing this operation outside is impossible. Washing all the equipement is taking a couple of hours and as long as there is not « brewing equipment » dishwasher, I don’t see any value there. Furthermore, if you don’t execute this step well, you might end up with bacterial contaminations that will ruin the entire batch in a couple of weeks.
Another problem that I discovered quickly with the home brewing process is that you need to make very large batches. When you’re brewing, you need to do a batch of 23 litters which will give you around 65 bottles or a little more than a Cornelius keg. When you are starting, this means that you will have to drink 65 bottles of the same beer or wait for another batch to bring diversity to your collection. But what happens if the batch is bad? Everything is going to waste and you need to restart the process?
Another big problem for me is that I really try various beers available and to compare them. When brewing, getting to a good diversity is very long! Unless you are trading your home made beer with others brewers but you might end up with problems because most of the states are prohibiting the beer trading.
The investment required when starting the brewing process seems very low. Especially when you are talking with hard core home brewers. They will tell you that with 100$ you will have all the equipment needed and you can start with that. But in reality, the more you brew, the more you will need special equipment. Hydrometer, bottle Capper, tweaked hot liquor tank, Cornelius kegs, co2 bottles, a small Danby refrigerator, copper wort chillers, etc.; These are all equipment that the average brewer will want to purchase and the budget is way more considerable than the 100$ initial kits that you often ear everywhere. If the space and the budget is not a problem for you, then it’s fine, but as explained earlier, when you don’t have time, you don’t have the time to spend two weeks to search for a used liquor tank for 5 bucks, modify it and
Personally, the smells associated to brewing are not a problem because I like the odor of the yeast during the fermentation. The problem is more with the girlfriends, roommate or neighbours. If you don’t have a lot of space, or during the winter this is even more problematics…
If you live in a large city, this might not be a problem for you since you will have a lot of brewing equipment stores available. Personally, I live in a small town when the local brewing shop gather some few ingredients but they don’t have a lot of variety. The other problem that we have is that you often need to buy in bulk the ingredients. When leaving in a small apartment and making one batch per month, where will you store these? Buying online help on this but unfortunately but the Canadian market doesn’t have any good solutions available so far for these.
Finally, being an entrepreneur, I try to calculate all the aspects of my life related to the ROI principle. If I spend time doing something, what will be the return on my investment. Will this worth it or not? Unfortunately, for the home brewing process, I decided to stop based on the reasons explained earlier. I understand that some people will do this activity as an hobby and they will enjoy spending time doing it. But personally, and after trying home brewing for a while, I prefer to spent time with my friends or reading a good business book or having friends at house and relaxing than spending my afternoon without any stress of limiting the mess, contaminating the batch, or forgetting a crucial steps of the recipe.
I know that some people will disagree with my articles so don’t hesitate to comment or leave feedback at my personal email. If you have solutions to my problems, I’d be really interested to share them in the next weeks in a future post with our readers. If you liked the post, don’t hesitate to subscribe to our newsletter and we will notice you when the future posts will be available.