How do You Know You’re a Beer Nerd?

You won’t shut up about it.

OK, while this statement is true, and many people say in a disparaging way, I wear it as a badge of honor. Yes, I love beer and I love homebrewing.

I’ve been homebrewing for about 13 years. My obsession grew from the point where I had a table and a shelf in a corner of the basement and a small space in the garage to the point where I had a large workbench in the garage and a full room in the basement of our last house.

The picture below is from 2012, when I jumped from a 5 gallon stock pot to a converted keg to brew 10 gallon batches.

Large Batch Brew Kettle
One of my first ten gallon batches, splitting in to two fermentation vessels.

Really . . . I don’t shut up about it.

My wife is amazing. She doesn’t even like beer (she tried every batch and lots of commercial examples for the first 5 years), but she puts up with me tying many of our conversations to beer and brewing.

Whether we were discussing homeschooling techniques, business, or any other topic under the sun, I usually find a way to tie concepts to brewing. Sometimes it takes a while to explain the connection my brain made, but it comes through eventually.

It’s OK

Even if people make fun of how much you talk about beer, brewing, and/or snowboarding(not that I’m talking about myself), it’s OK. When you find activities you truly enjoy, it’s a good thing you want to share them.

Be proud of your beer-nerd-ness. You never know where it may lead. Mine led me to come up with ideas for some nerdy beer shirts. Please consider buying one if you’re interested.

The Beeratic Equation

Homebrewing Doesn’t Make Sense

For most people

Please be patient with me while I try to articulate my thoughts on this. Also, the real thing I’m saying is, “Homebrewing doesn’t make sense for most people.”

But for those of us who love it, and people who are curious, it’s definitely worth trying and getting involved.

What Beer Lovers Want

Amber ale backlit by garage window
A delicious, clear amber ale I enjoyed while cleaning the garage.

I mean, let’s get down to brass tacks. Beer lovers want good beer. And there is a plethora of great beer available at reasonable prices almost anywhere. I mean, what’s reasonable varies quite a bit. I saw some beer prices from Australia and New Zealand and did not think they were reasonable.

But I’m pretty spoiled with access to great beer. And it makes it pretty easy to skip making a batch when I can go to the store and grab a reliably great beer without giving up a fairly large chunk of time.

The Main Thing That Doesn’t Make Sense

Homebrewing requires gear. Much of the gear doesn’t get used for any other purpose, at least for myself and my friends who brew. And that can lead to some storage chaos, as illustrated by the picture of my garage below.

Cluttered garage

This isn’t really a problem, or a barrier. I know lots of homebrewers with minimal gear who make great beer. You don’t need a huge setup, and you can tailor your gear to the space you have. But like most hobbies, once you know you love it, there’s always new, interesting gear.

The Important Thing that Doesn’t Make Sense

Homebrewing takes time. Each batch requires time on multiple days, and may take weeks from brew day until it’s ready to drink. 5 gallon batches will require at least a few hours on brew day, assuming you have your ingredients ready.

Packaging day (bottling, kegging) requires another time investment to get the beer from your fermenter to your package of choice.

And the wait for your beer to carbonate seems to drag forever.

But Homebrewing is Still Worth It

Homebrewing is, first and foremost, a hobby. And like most hobbies, they don’t make sense to people not involved in them.

But if you love beer, you really should pick up a kit (affiliate link) and try homebrewing. Even if it’s just one batch to experience the process, it will give you an greater understanding of the beer in your glass.

Many of my homebrewing friends enjoy cooking and experimenting with flavors, and making beer at home gives an outlet for both passions at once.

So I would recommend you try homebrewing. Just don’t blame me when you run out of space to store your gear.

Brew up an adventure!

Why Do I Like Beer?

Growing up, beer was not a common beverage in my family. In fact, beer and alcohol were viewed negatively. And the only beer I was exposed to were the cheapest of cheap beers, so I was indifferent about it.

I tried beers my friends gave me in college, but never liked them enough to drink a whole one. They seemed like weird soda, with a vaguely unsettling flavor.

The End of the World as I Knew It

Until one fateful day when one of my college roommates gave me a bottle of Sam Adams’ Cream Stout. The roasty flavor of coffee and mild sweetness changed my idea of what beer was. It still had enough beer flavor it was definitely beer, but my mind expanded that day.

As a fan of delicious food, this version of a milk stout triggered my cooking curiosity. What was in this beer? Why did it taste so different from the light American lagers most people defaulted to? Were there other beers out there with these interesting flavors?

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins . . .

From that first beer, I became fairly loyal to Sam Adams beers for a while. Their cherry wheat was a beer I enjoyed, but quickly grew tired of. Boston lager is still a solid, delicious beer.

But they opened the door to wondering about other beers, and other adventures. As my habit of defaulting to black beers (porters and stouts) softened to preferring ‘darker’ beers (red ales and ambers), a co-worker had a group of people over to see the process of homebrewing a batch of beer.

The cook in me got so excited about the possibility, and I expanded my beer selection to see what was really available.

But finances and a new family determined then was not the time to start homebrewing.

“See how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

I don’t know exactly how many years later I started homebrewing. But my food nerd took over and I learned as much as I could. I joined a homebrew club, talked to fellow homebrewers, and started listening to homebrewing podcasts.

By brewing my own beer, I was able to play with ingredients and start recognizing where flavors were originating. Hop variety and addition times had an effect. Malt-derived flavors started standing out more, and yeast-derived esters and phenols tied it all together. And that’s not even thinking about spices, fruits, barrels, and microorganisms.

As I continue to learn and explore, my passion for beer comes from the variety of flavors that brewers build into their beers. Sometimes the simple enjoyment of a delicious, well crafted beer is enough; but sometimes sitting with a beer and thinking about all the component flavors and aromas is deeply satisfying.

That first sip of a new beer is like embarking on a journey. It’s familiar, something you’ve done before, but there’s something different. As you move forward, what you thought was a hill in the distance clarifies into not just a hill, but a hill with a rock formation that becomes covered by a forest that is split by a river.

I like beer because it is a journey for the senses. Flavors and aromas combine in unique ways, bringing about something you don’t always expect.