How Good is Home-Brew?
Whilst in the shop I often get asked “How good is home brew?” This is not the easiest question to answer, because ultimately it comes down to personal preference. Personally I believe home brew has never been better. Particularly in the quality and variety of beers. In wine kits there has been a good range of wines available for some years now, but recent developments have improved the stability of the grape concentrate, meaning it travels better and the flavours are improved and more consistent. Plus, when you make a good brew there is nothing more satisfying than enjoying the fruits of your labour, especially when you’ve managed to achieve or recreate the result you were aiming for.
Many people remember the “Golden Age” of home brew in the late 70’s early 80’s, where the kits were rather poor and of low quality. I believe there may have been a reason for this.
Wikipedia states that;
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, home brewing in the UK was circumscribed by taxation: the Inland Revenue Act of 1880introduced a 5-shilling home-brewing licence. Chancellor of the Exchequer Reginald Maudling removed the requirement for a brewing licence in 1963.
I would deduce that this deregulation in ’63 created a surge in interest in home brewing, which may have outstripped supply. I believe this probably resulted in a rush to fill the gap in the market, which could have contributed to the lack of quality in home brew kits being produced in the 60’s and 70’s. If my beliefs are correct, this would have meant that when home-brewing became fashionable in the late 70’s early 80’s there weren’t many, if any, good kits around. (I aim to find out more about the social history of home brew, and report on it in our blog.)
If it turns out my suppositions are correct, then it probably accounts for how often I am asked “How good is home brew?” Current standards in home brew are excellent. It would seem that many keen home brewers have become micro-brewers, and that some developed in to larger commercial brewers. These businesses, born from hobby brewers, are now well established in the brewing trade, and are keeping the integrity and commitment to good produce that is currently synonymous with home brewers and craft brewers alike.
A few commercial brewers who, I believe, started in home-brew, have allowed some of there recipes to be produced in kit form. under licence, for the home brew market. The only difference between the kit and what you get in the pub, will be the water used in the production of the brew and maybe how it is carbonated.
Now many believe that the best modern day kits match or improve on many commercial drinks in the pub. Plus there is the peace of mind of knowing what ingredients have been used in the making of the brew.
The parallels between home brew and cooking are almost endless. The main one being the better the ingredients used to produce the brew, the better the brew will be.
I believe the golden age of home brew is now, there has never been a better time to get into homebrew. The most recent kits are far better than those produced in the 70’s and 80’s. For many people, it is no longer a question of whether home brew can compete with commercial brewers, it is whether commercial brewers can compete with home-brew.
Happiness is home made!