Home Brewing: The DIY Trend That’s Here to Stay

By+Jenna Guerin

The Do-It-Yourself or D.I.Y. movement has been on the rise ever since creative resources like HGTV and Pinterest have arrived on the scene. Through those and other inspirational resources, people have become both empowered and equipped to undertake many projects themselves. Home brewing or domestic brewing has paralleled that trend and continues to grow in popularity. The question is, what is it about crafting one’s own beer that is so enticing when it can easily be purchased in store? Aaron Goldstein, owner of Michiana Brewers Supply in South Bend, Indiana says the answer is simple. 


“Most really good craft beer isn’t cheap. You could spend anywhere from $10 to $20 for a six pack. If you have a good home-brew shop who knows their products and how to create recipes, you can brew something just as good for $40 to $60—and that’s for five gallons!” said Goldstein. “I also think that like with all D.I.Y. hobbies, there is a sense of pride that you get in giving your friends a home-brewed beer.”


Goldstein says each week, he sees new people visit his storefront who are interested in the dynamics of brewing homemade beer. He founded Michiana Brewers Supply in the past year to supply local home brewers with quality ingredients, affordable supplies and expertise on his favorite hobby. And he’s looking forward to seeing his passion gain even more momentum in the Michiana area.


It seems that what was an unfamiliar concept a few years ago, has now became a mainstream pastime. However, home brewing should not be carelessly dismissed as a fleeting trend or the latest craze. The process of home brewing actually coincides with the invention of beer, thousands of years ago. Home brewing was a thing long before we asked our bartender “what’s on tap?”, long before we mulled over our beer purchase in a store and certainly, long before beer tastings were a regular weekend event. 


It’s difficult to determine the people or culture who invented the brilliance of beer, but according to History.com, the first known alcoholic beverage is a 9,000-year-old Chinese recipe consisting of rice, honey and fruit. However, historians speculate that barley beer probably originated in the Middle East. And although it’s likely that some form of beer was produced long before that, concrete evidence of beer production dates back to 5,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. The evidence was discovered by archaeologists who found ceramic containers belonging to the Sumerian civilization. The containers dated all the way back to 3400 B.C. and still held remnants of beer residue. It’s likely that the Sumerians concocted a beer recipe as an alternative to drinking unsafe river water. 


The Egyptians were also known for their love of beer. In fact, it was incorporated into their everyday diet as it provided much-needed nutrients. These ancient brews tasted nothing like the beer we like to drink today. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages when Christian monks brewed their beer with hop seasonings that more modernized beer flavors came about. 


Even though our incentive for drinking beer today borders more on the recreational side rather than the nutritional side, it’s reasonable to say that home brewing has come full circle. Still, despite its increasing popularity, many are apprehensive about venturing into the realm of domestic brewing. For one, people tend to see the initial cost of starting to home brew and decide that it’s cheaper to continue buying it in store. 


Goldstein says that the initial cost needs to be considered as an investment. “You’re spending $40 to $60 per batch after your initial investment of $200 on average. If you go to the liquor store for good craft beer, you can’t buy five gallons worth for that much. You may pay $40 for a case, but that’s only 2.5 gallons if you buy a case of 12-ounce bottles. With that, you can brew your own and get double the amount,” said Goldstein. 


Secondly, people become intimidated by the threat of failure, especially when their first batch doesn’t turn out as expected. According to Goldstein, the process is trial and error, and simply requires perseverance and an ability to follow instructions. “If you can make a Betty Crocker® cake mix, you can make beer. It’s really that simple—as long as you follow instructions, you will be making good beer.”


Stores like Goldstein’s Michiana Home Brewers and Quality Wine and Ale Supply in Elkhart are just as committed to educating customers as they are to providing the supplies and ingredients to brew. Quality Wine and Ale Supply sells ingredients and equipment that fit any level of expertise—from beginner to advanced brewers. Customers can even purchase the bottles, labels and bottle caps when they have finally brewed the perfect batch. They also sell wine- and cheese-making supplies and equipment. They have a brick-and-mortar store in Elkhart, but also have online shopping options. Last year, Quality Wine and Ale was voted the “Best Wine Making and Home Brewing Supply Shop of Elkhart County, Indiana.” To add to their accolades, they are one of the largest retailers of wine- and brew-making supplies in the country.


Michiana Home Brewers also merchandises everything that’s needed to get started with brewing or winemaking. They carry all of the necessary grains and malt extract for people to brew independently. Additionally, they sell 82 different varieties of hops to suit an array of customer preferences. Michiana Home Brewers prides itself on using quality ingredients from the Midwest and using both regional and local suppliers.


Both businesses serve as an exceptional resource for beer enthusiasts who want to start learning the basics or for those who want to further advance their brew-making skills. The best way to begin is to purchase a basic equipment and ingredients kit, and gather recommendations and advice from a home brewing business. The sky is the limit as experimentation, trial and error and customization gets underway. 


Goldstein says it best. “It gives you a sense of pride that you can’t get from buying beer. It’s like any project you do yourself—when you get it all done, you can look at it and say ‘I MADE THAT’.” 


Well, then of course, you can drink that.


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