How DIY Homebrewing is Affecting the Larger Beer Industry

With homebrewing more popular than ever before, should the giants of the beer industry start worrying? We look into how DIY homebrewing is affecting the beer industry.

BEER

Brewpedia

8/25/20238 min read

black glass bottles on table top
black glass bottles on table top

How DIY Homebrewing is Affecting the Larger Beer Industry

The rising popularity of homebrewing as a hobby has made brewing more accessible for everyday beer enthusiasts. With simple starter kits, widely available ingredients and online resources, brewing quality beer at home has never been easier.

This grassroots craft brewing movement driven by passionate homebrewers is leaving ripples within the broader beer industry. As more people discover the creative joys of do-it-yourself homebrewing, the impacts on consumer behaviours, commercial brewing innovations, and wider beer culture continue unfolding.

Growth of Homebrewing Fuelling Industry Shifts

Some key ways the homebrewing movement has grown significantly, changing the beer landscape:

  • Covid quarantines spurred 24% more people to take up homebrewing in 2020 alone as a fun activity while confined at home. This influx of new homebrewers continues growing.

  • Simplified beginner kits from companies like Brooklyn Brew Shop and Northern Brewer have made starting homebrewing seem less intimidating with approachable instructions and pre-measured ingredient kits.

  • The availability of small-batch size 1 gallon ingredient kits allows testing recipes without huge investment which appeals to hobbyists brewing as a side passion.

  • Online forums, social media groups, YouTube channels, and podcasts dedicated to homebrewing foster knowledge sharing among passionate amateurs.

  • More specialty homebrew shops, online retailers, and big box stores stock equipment and ingredients for brewing beer, cider, mead and kombucha at home. Accessibility drives adoption.

This momentum around homebrewing as a creative craft feeds several industry shifts as enthusiastic brewers get consumers more engaged and empowered.

Fostering a New Generation of Craft Beer Consumers

One of the most profound impacts of the rise of homebrewing is the creation of a new generation of craft beer enthusiasts. These aren't just casual drinkers; they're devotees who think critically about flavors, techniques, and quality. By getting hands-on brewing experience at home, people gain a deeper understanding of the ingredients, processes, and skills involved in quality beer production.

Experimentation is key. Brewing different recipe styles and playing with unique ingredients like fruits and herbs broadens the palate. The tasting characteristics of various hops varieties become more than just flavours; they become signatures of different beer styles. And when things go wrong, like off-flavours or fermentation issues, homebrewers learn to troubleshoot. These challenges build wisdom and a problem-solving mindset.

But it's not just about brewing; it's about community and education. Joining homebrew clubs and entering contests motivate brewers to refine their craft, seeking balanced and clean flavors that impress even the most discerning palates. Reading homebrew books and publications and geeking out over equipment adds a layer of understanding to the scientific nuances influencing beer outcomes.

This deeper appreciation gained from homebrewing is transformative. It changes how people perceive and evaluate commercial beers. They're not just tasting; they're recognising the craftsmanship and superior quality that went into the production.

Elevating Consumer Standards and Brand Scrutiny

The discerning taste and understanding of the brewing process developed through homebrewing change the way some beer drinkers engage with the commercial beer market. Exposure to a wider variety of beer styles and creative flavors through homebrewing adventures expands consumer preferences. Many lean towards independent breweries offering diverse options rather than big beer conglomerates.

This hands-on familiarity with ingredients and brewing techniques leads to scrutiny. Homebrewers begin to look more closely at beer labels and the production processes of different brands. They seek transparency and are often more critical judges of commercial beers, especially if they detect flawed recipes or corner-cutting production methods that aren't up to homebrew standards.

Brewing high-quality beer at home can change attitudes towards pricing as well. Some drinkers become less price-sensitive when buying craft beer, understanding and valuing the meticulous labour and ingredients involved. The process of troubleshooting finicky homebrews, requiring careful sanitation and fermentation, heightens this appreciation and elevates standards.

For some, homebrewing doesn't just change tastes; it shifts the entire approach to beer consumption. It moves them towards independent, quality-driven breweries and makes them more critical of mass production choices. It's not just about what's in the glass; it's about the journey of understanding, creativity, and connection to a community of craft beer lovers.

Driving Specialisation and Innovation

Homebrewing is not just a hobby; it's a catalyst for innovation and specialisation within the beer industry. As more people gain first-hand brewing experience, the market has noticed the burgeoning community of homebrewers and their insatiable curiosity and knowledge. It's responding with a wider variety of styles and speciality beer ingredients.

Craft breweries are increasingly offering small-batch experimental and collaboration brews that align with the innovative homebrew ethos. They're standing apart and connecting with a segment of consumers eager for something unique and authentic. The zeal of homebrewers for novel ingredients like spice blends, botanical infusions, and funky yeasts is pushing breweries towards speciality releases that incorporate the same.

The intimate scale of homebrewing allows a laser focus on obscure historical styles and truly local ingredients that influence wider speciality beer trends. This not only fosters innovation but also helps preserve brewing history. The pride homebrewers take in brewing "hyper-local" with ingredients from their gardens and neighbourhoods is inspiring commercial collaborations with regional farms.

Creative homebrew techniques, such as barrel-ageing, blending batches, and fruit infusions, are finding their way into new brewery offerings as they witness the concepts tested small-scale. In these ways, passionate homebrewers indirectly influence and inspire brewing professionals, driving craft beer innovation.

Improving Quality and Reducing Errors

Homebrewing has a broader impact than just creating beer enthusiasts; it also improves wider beer quality by providing pragmatic education. Hands-on homebrewing experience translates directly into professional roles, helping newcomers to commercial brewing better understand beer logic, troubleshooting, and maintenance.

Veteran brewers benefit too, using small test batches to trial new recipes or concepts without wasting mass resources. These homebrew batches provide valuable R&D simulations.

Moreover, the deep scientific and sensory knowledge gained by homebrewers around ingredients and processes allows some to successfully consult for breweries. They help in solving flaws or improving consistency.

Peer feedback on homemade brews through club meetings and competitions prepares homebrewers to identify issues accurately and refine recipes for balance. These are valuable skills that they can apply to brewery roles. And the cleanliness, sanitation, patience, and precision required for pristine homebrewing instil meticulousness needed for long-term beer stability.

Beyond igniting passion, homebrewing teaches foundational technical skills that are applicable in reducing mistakes and elevating quality when brewing at a commercial scale.

Nurturing Beer Entrepreneurship

For brewing hobbyists bitten by the brewing bug, homebrewing provides entrepreneurial launching pads. The journey from passionate homebrewer to business owner is a natural progression for many.

Here's how homebrewing fosters entrepreneurship:

From Hobby to Nano Brewing:

Passionate homebrewers wanting more creative control often progress to nano brewing. They use small commercial systems adaptable for homes or garages.

New Generation of Startups:

These nanobreweries, launching out of active homebrewers' existing knowledge base, represent the newest generation of beer startups.

Dreaming Big:

Some hobbyists realise their dream of opening full microbreweries, building upon lessons learned about recipe development and brewing processes.

Collaborative Ventures:

Homebrew club members team up for small collab brewing projects, laying the groundwork for future beer partnerships.

Consulting Careers:

Homebrewers wanting lucrative second careers find ready consulting gigs, providing services to commercial brewers based on their skills.

For aspiring brewing entrepreneurs, homebrewing offers a low-risk business development space. It's a place to hone knowledge, technique, and passions, transforming hobbyists into founders. It's more than just making beer; it's about shaping the future of the craft beer industry.

Boosting Beer Tourism

As localised homebrewing thrives, tied opportunities arise for beer-focused travel and events:

  • Homebrew competitions like the national Homebrew Con see huge attendance by active homebrewers entering beers and seeking feedback. Associated beer festivals and expos boost beer tourism dollars.

  • Smaller homebrewing events take root across states as local guilds host conferences, pub crawls, brewery tours and open houses for members. These promote intrastate beer travel.

  • Homebrew shops, ingredient vendors and equipment manufacturers sponsor hands-on brewing education events, retreats, demonstrations and classes that attract interested beer travellers.

  • People schedule vacations around visiting top beer regions to experience local homebrew clubs and nanobreweries characteristic of distinct communities. Homebrew hotspots become tourism lures.

  • Area homebrewers partner with regional tourism boards to promote beer trails, maps and itineraries integrating visits to amateur brewers alongside commercial brewhouses.

As homebrewing permeates communities' identities, it intertwines with beer tourism promotion campaigns and niche traveller interests.

Challenges and Concerns of Mainstreaming Homebrewing

Amidst the positives, growth in homebrewing also invites some potential pitfalls:

  • With hobby brewing popularity rising, some homebrewers gravitate towards convenience shortcuts like extract kits, pre-hopped malt, or all-in-one systems sacrificing learning technical foundations. This risks perpetuating misconceptions and flawed practices without dedicated craftsmanship.

  • Hop shortages already squeeze professional brewers. While homebrewing remains small-scale currently, ingredient scarcity and inflated prices could arise if participation expands exponentially without supply chain planning.

  • In the rush to capitalise on homebrewing demand, some retailers sell subpar equipment or ingredient kits with little guidance for beginners, resulting in preventable brewing failures and deterred hobbyists. Quality control varies.

  • Loose regulation of homebrewing methods, packaging, sanitation and ingredients creates risk of quality inconsistencies or contamination dangers without commercial oversight. Safety vigilance rests on individual brewers.

While these concerns currently seem minimal, steady homebrewing growth requires proactive partnerships across hobbyist groups, retailers, ingredient producers and regulators to uphold ethics, safety, transparency and quality.

Fostering Beer Culture and Community

At its heart, the rising homebrewing culture enriches communities and connects beer enthusiasts through educational, social and creative avenues:

  • Local homebrew clubs give members of all skill levels space to gather, troubleshoot recipes, build knowledge and appreciate beer arts deeply as they learn together. Lifelong bonds form.

  • Sharing homemade brews allows homebrewers to spread joy and proudly showcase achievements. Beers often commemorate milestones like births, weddings or careers. Gifting brews creates meaning.

  • Mentoring newcomers to homebrewing sustains enthusiasm and develops talent for future generations. Patience and wisdom pass forward.

  • Hosting facility tours, classes and competitions makes homebrewing more publicly accessible while providing constructive venues for improving methods. Outreach spreads commitment.

  • Collaborations and friendships bloom around the fundamental human acts of creating, teaching, convening and celebrating - bonds amplified by beer's universality. At its core, homebrewing connects people.

This ethos of community, collaboration and collective growth propels homebrewing's rising cultural imprint beyond business metrics. In gratifying their own passions for quality beverages, homebrewers inadvertently better beer as a whole.

Conclusion

While on the surface homebrewing simply converts hops, malt, water and yeast into fermented homemade drinks, the impacts of this hands-on brewing movement now filter into the wider beer world.

As more consumers see, smell, taste and try their hand at the brewing process, it fundamentally alters their relationship to beer while reshaping industry norms.

Empowered by knowledge and self-determination to brew how and with whom they choose, passionate homebrewers elevate expectations. Their experiments inspire professional innovation. Their entrepreneurship enriches local beer landscapes. Lured by their contagious dedication, newcomers enter the wonderful world of brewing themselves, spreading a cycle of education, advancement and celebratory imbibing.

This cycle propagates a mindful beer culture valuing quality, community, and the creative spirit. While the tangible impacts of homebrewing on the commercial beer market will continue unfolding over decades, the cultural influences may prove more profound still.

Because when everyday people come together - grains, hops, water, yeast and camaraderie in hand - to proudly create flavours tied to heritage, nothing bonds quite like breaking bread. Or mashing in.

man standing beside stainless steel industrial machinery
man standing beside stainless steel industrial machinery
beer in clear glass mason jar on table
beer in clear glass mason jar on table