Posted 18 May 2004 - 07:31 AM
In your opinion, is brewing truly great beer within reach of anybody with a little time and commitment, or is there is special touch in the hands of commercial brewers that us at home aren't going to be able to match?
----- De Gustibus Non Disputandum Est
Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch
Posted 18 May 2004 - 01:28 PM
I do get the opportunity to try homebrewed beers on occasion and can't remember ever having a bad one during my travels. Maybe it's because I hang with a pretty tough crowd. I am selective about which of my homebrews I share under what circumstances as I'm sure you and other homebrewers are. I have been brazen enough to share one of mine with friends that have since judged at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and World Beer Cup -- two well respected beer competitions. Others I only share with folks closer to home and I have had homebrew that I only shared with the critters in the back corner of the yard.
So, how does homebrew compare to commercial beer? A member of our local homebrew club has an unbelievable barleywine that would stand up to virtually any commercial product. Another member has some meads that are exceptional (and mead is not my first adult beverage choice.) On the other hand, two breweries come to mind, one in Oregon and one in Philladelphia, that don't produce a beer that I would drink or serve. (Don't worry, there are plenty of great brewers in both states.) A commercial brewery or a home brewery are equally capable of turning out bad beer. There are many in each category that produce very good beer. There is an elite subset of each that produce world class beer.
The chemistry behind the creation of beer has not changed in the several thousand years since it was first produced. Whether you are Anheuser-Busch or Second Fiddle Brewing, you start with grain and make beer. The difference (other than volume) is the level of control that can be maintained over the entire process until it reaches the glass.
Can a homebrewer produce Coors? Maybe something close, but no. It requires more control than can be maintained on a small scale. Will there ever be a Budweiser Double IPA? No, it's too expensive to make and there is not enough market for the bean counters to ever let it happen. Can a smaller commercial brewery produce a Double IPA? Obviously. There are recently added awards for the category at GABF and World Beer Cup.
We, as homebrewers, have the ability to brew whatever we want and, with enough dedication and attention to detail, can produce excellent examples of more beers that will ever be commercially available.