Not everyone knows it, but homebrewing has been legal in all states since 2013. It begs the question: why isn’t just about everyone out there making their own beers instead of paying the big breweries? A lot of the problem seems to be that many people think homebrewing is hard, expensive or difficult to get started.
The truth is that it’s actually easy and cheap to start your own home brewery, and you can add on as you go. So, what if the brews you bust out for next year’s March Madness or Superbowl party had your face on them? Or your family? Or the dog? Are you ready to become the neighborhood brewmaster?
Keeping It Simple
Before you invest in the heavy machinery to challenge President Obama’s White House Honey Ale Beer, start simple. Beer kits are available at department and some grocery stores for around $20 to $40. The kits include premixed ingredients along with all the equipment you need to produce between one and five batches of brew.
Most are pale ales, similar to Budweiser. These kits help you learn everything you need to know about homebrewing without much time or money investment. Sanitize the equipment, fill the barrel, place the stopper, and wait until fermentation finishes. It’s a simple process as long as you don’t try to rush things or forget proper sanitization.
Upping the Ante
Once your first batch is done, you’re likely to become hooked on homebrewing. Up the ante by ditching the premix sets and getting local ingredients. Pick up some hops, local fruit, and anything else you think works great. Brewer’s yeast is available at homebrew shops as well as many popular neighborhood markets. You might want to invest in a bigger barrel, stoppers with gauges, and wands to make the transition between barrel and bottle as smooth as possible. Exposing beer to air lowers its quality, after all.
This stage is also where state and local laws come into play. Even if the federal government places few restrictions on homebrewing, you can run afoul of the state if you don’t heed their rules. Pay close attention to limitations on volume or home equipment, and never sell without a license.
When you up the ante, you get a say in every part of the process. Choose your own type of bottles. Go for stoppers with hula girls on them. Get a cap maker and create custom bottle caps that showcase your brew and brand. Remember to waterproof those labels, as most will fall off easily from wet hands or spilled beer. At this stage, homebrewing is whatever you choose to make it, and you’re likely to become the most popular guy around when you share custom drinks with your crew.
The Big Time
Don’t quit your day job just yet, but your side hustle could really pay off in the future. The skills you learn homebrewing transition well to opening your own brewery or working for one of the thousands of employee-owned microbreweries out there. You’ll discover proper sanitization, how to pick flavors, and how to hone the patience needed for the perfect batch. Bring along a personal bottle if you go to interview. Showcase those skills.
There’s really no limit to what you can do once you hit the big time. Dream big, because a great many of the nation’s microbreweries started off just like you before they got big and started shipping beer nationwide. Cheers!