Here's to homebrewing

James Spencer is the brains behind Basic Brewing Radio. You can visit his site here. He dishes up a weekly podcast and a twice-monthly video cast, both of which focus primarily on homebrewing.

But today he interviewed me. Most people who talk to me about Ambitious Brew focus, no surprise, on the history of commercial brewing. But James, again no surprise, wanted to talk about homebrewing’s history. I’m glad he did, because it’s so easy to overlook the role of homebrewing in the creation of today’s craft brewing industry.

The first generation of microbrewers (in the late 1970s and early 1980s) came out of homebrewing. Not all of them succeeded, but they helped shape the microbrewing revolution. Indeed, I’m not sure if microbrewing would have happened had there not first been a homebrewing revolution of sorts in the 1960s and 1970s.

I discovered the significance of homebrewing when I researched the last two chapters of Ambitious Brew and interviewed people like Byron Burch, Charlie Papazian, and Michael Lewis -- and of course microbrewers like Jack McAuliffe and Ken Grossman, both of whom came to commercial brewing via homebrew. Even today, homebrewers make up the heart of the enthusiastic audience for craft brewers. And craft brewers readily acknowledge the importance of homebrewing. Some of them sponsor homebrewing competitions. Others regularly meet with homebrewers to share their expertise and experience. They participate in judging homebrewing competitions. In short, homebrewing is a vital and historically significant component of American brewing history.

So here’s to you, homebrewers. Raise your carboys high!