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Why Do You Brew The Things That You Brew?

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fullbottle

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G'day All.

My name is Jim. I'm a very enthusiastic rookie brewer, and an anthropology honors student studying at the University of Western Australia. So basically I was hoping that the Aussiehomebrewer community could help me with a little research for the thesis I am writing. A thesis on home brew, you say? Heck yes!

I want to know why you guys (and girls) brew your own beer. Why did you get into it, and what keeps you interested? What is it that you find fulfilling about home brewing?



Some background on the thesis: The thesis I am carrying out is being written in response to a growing body of research that links consumerism and the pursuit of materialistic pleasures with an array of negative ecological, social and personal byproducts. While materialism is increasingly seen as unrewarding, it is also being recognized that the pursuit of materialistic pleasures can prevent the individual from experiencing other more rewarding forms of pleasure. In this thesis I am suggesting that home brewing is a form of non-materialistic consumption that offers alternative forms of pleasure that are both ecologically and ethically sustainable. Unfortunately, there is literally (to my knowledge) no academic research on home brewing. That's why I am turning to the online brewing community :)



I have an ethical responsibility to make sure you understand a few things about this research: Firstly, any responses you provide here will be collected anonymously and will only be used to support work regarding this particular thesis. By contributing to this discussion I will assume you are providing informed consent. However, you have the right to remove this consent at any time. Simply state that you do not want to be included within your response, or message me.

If you have any questions about this research or the thesis in general please feel free to PM me.

Cheers.
 

bum

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In this thesis I am suggesting that home brewing is a form of non-materialistic consumption that offers alternative forms of pleasure that are both ecologically and ethically sustainable.
Do a bit of a search for the many, many threads started by someone asking why we all started brewing and you'll see that the vast majority of answers is usually that we wanted to save money - in the end, most people admit that it doesn't work that way - you end up spending tonnes on shiny stainless bits. So there's your non-materialism gone out the window on both counts.

Ecologically sustainable? Dunno how much water goes through your brewery but mine uses a lot and I'm no gardener so my options for re-use are limited. CO2 production? Probably drawing long-bow there, best to ignore that one.

Ethically sustainable? Really? Producing a poison for human ingestion. A poison that is widely known to be one of the most common causes of family violence/breakdown?

Lucky you're studying anthropology and not sociology.

Best of luck with it though. People love to talk about why they brew and I'm sure you'll get lots of stuff here.
 

Truman42

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Gday jim,

You've certainly come to the right place and Im sure you will get some very different reasons for why people home brew.

For me its being able to make something myself from scratch and then enjoy the final product with friends and family. I brew all grain so enjoy the whole brewing process, like someone enjoys creating a dish from a favourite recipe then eating that dish with their partner, family and friends. Being able to sit down with the wife and share a home brew that tastes great and knowing I made it is the reward for me.

I also like building and tinkering so home brewing has this covered as well. I spend just as much time redesigning my system, buying new bits and pieces to add to my brewery and tinkering with my setup to try and improve it, than I do actually brewing. This fills in time until my next brew day.

I dont home brew to save money as I have probably spent more on brewing than I would just buying beer each week. And when I do buy beer it has to be craft beer which is usually expensive anyway.
 

ekul

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Was having this conversation with a brewer today actually. I think everyone starts out because they want to save money. Why else would someone continue to drink kit and kilo beer fermented @ 30C?
 

donburke

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i got into brewing after a tour of the 2 big tasmanian breweries

it wet my apetite for the 'diy' aspect of the hobby

there seems to be a growing culture of 'diy' in society, probably fueled by tv shows such as masterchef, countless renovation shows, backyard blitz etc

i have a sense of self gratification, from building my brewing equipment, formulating a recipe, brewing it and then all the way to the final product, which also includes sharing it with family and friends

i have remained interested in the hobby because every brew is something different, and the results are not always known until a month or so after the beer is made, kind of like photography used to be like before digital (those who have shot astrophotography using film will know what that anxiety can be like)

its also a bit of 'me' time, whilst i share my time with family, work and friends, brewing is a time i have where i am in my own world so to speak, a time when nothing else matters (those who have every ridden a motorcycle past 250km/hr will also know what being in your own world can be like)
 

tricache

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I started brewing the same reason a lot of people do, to save money.

But as I have discovered (as most people here have) it turns from a "money saver" to an endeavour to find and make the perfect beer.
 

jbowers

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I started brewing to save money, but not as a general thing. Even now, because I don't buy in bulk, I COULD buy very cheap beer cheaper than the beer I make. I couldn't, however, buy the styles of beers that I like to drink for anywhere near that price. The combination of high quality and flavour at a pricepoint where commercial beer is not really available to buy, or if it is, is usually not great.

It's also rewarding to drink a beer you have made yourself, and I give away a lot of beer that I make to friends because: A. I like seeing people enjoy my beer and B. The faster it gets consumed, the more different beers I can make!
 

Lord Raja Goomba I

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Initially cheap beer (uni student).

Now - good beer, that is cheaper than anything I can obtain in a retail manner; plus the creative/DIY aspect of it.

I'd hazard a guess 99.99999999% of us get into it, thinking we can make cheap XXXX/Tooheys/VB/CD - fail, and those who stuck with it, wanted to know 'why' it failed. Those who gave up after a brew or two, figured that cheap booze isn't worth the effort, and tastes awful (hence the bad rap HB has).

Our tastes changed and matured, and now we produce beer we want to drink, because it's damn hard to find anything commercially that is 'what we want to drink', or at least at a price we can purchase at a sustainable level.

So to confuse the issue - there is some creativity, but consumerism/materialism is the initial impetus, and sometimes the sustaining impetus. And we end up spending more on our hobby than we anticpated and extra 'bling' - whether it's in the brewery or at the serving end of the cycle.

I'm with Truman - I like serving beer that's great to family and friends, and I give a bit away - so I suppose there is something resembling altruism (or could just as well be a validation seeking issue as well); but then again, serving draught beer is as much the 'show off' aspect anyway - so again, maybe not as pure a motive as you'd have us believe.

Confused? I am.

Hope this helps though :)

Goomba
 

chunckious

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I needed a reason to grow a beard.
 

Jazzafish

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G'day All.

My name is Jim. I'm a very enthusiastic rookie brewer, and an anthropology honors student studying at the University of Western Australia. So basically I was hoping that the Aussiehomebrewer community could help me with a little research for the thesis I am writing. A thesis on home brew, you say? Heck yes!

I want to know why you guys (and girls) brew your own beer. Why did you get into it, and what keeps you interested? What is it that you find fulfilling about home brewing?



Some background on the thesis: The thesis I am carrying out is being written in response to a growing body of research that links consumerism and the pursuit of materialistic pleasures with an array of negative ecological, social and personal byproducts. While materialism is increasingly seen as unrewarding, it is also being recognized that the pursuit of materialistic pleasures can prevent the individual from experiencing other more rewarding forms of pleasure. In this thesis I am suggesting that home brewing is a form of non-materialistic consumption that offers alternative forms of pleasure that are both ecologically and ethically sustainable. Unfortunately, there is literally (to my knowledge) no academic research on home brewing. That's why I am turning to the online brewing community :)



I have an ethical responsibility to make sure you understand a few things about this research: Firstly, any responses you provide here will be collected anonymously and will only be used to support work regarding this particular thesis. By contributing to this discussion I will assume you are providing informed consent. However, you have the right to remove this consent at any time. Simply state that you do not want to be included within your response, or message me.

If you have any questions about this research or the thesis in general please feel free to PM me.

Cheers.
I started brewing for two reasons.
1) To save money for my wedding.
2) Because my then room mate talked me into it.

Beer was ok, but I wanted to find out why it wasn't quite as good as beer you can buy. This led to the never ending thirst for knowledge on the process. This has led me to brew better beer than most of what is for sale, competition success and seeking better equipment.

Soon after, I was married with children. This started the DIY part of the hobby because I couldn't afford to pay someone else to make the things for me. Unfortunately I was pretty terrible at some trade skills, but I nailed my stir plate as I didn't need to cut, weld or measure anything! So this led me to explore some new trade skills. Suffice to say I still have working equipment that I mostly saved from becoming landfill... But I have to admit, a few tax returns did get me temperature control, a pump, better manifold and recently a conical fermenter. So non-materialistic consumption, alternative forms of pleasure that are both ecologically and ethically sustainable has some merit... But not too strong.

I also had a crack at making brewing my full time job. I took a significant pay cut to do it and loved the change in lifestyle. However, the Mrs didn't like me working to the brewery's fermentation clock and we were feeling the pinch of the pay cut a little more than expected. So when an opening came up out of the industry for almost double the pay, I took one for the team and left the job I loved. Still regret it in some ways, but it was the right move for my family... which has increased by two kids since then! So I can see both sides of your materialism vs reward argument.

I continue to brew at home because I love it. I like to make specific beers for visiting family/friends, I like to experiment with different ingredients, I like to be inspired by fellow brewers in the community and most importantly I like the flavours that are simply not commercially viable or sometimes not possible to be made on large scale. I love locally made products with seasonal variance. I love beers designed by brewers, not beer designed by marketing departments and accountants with no other interest but financial gain and shareholder dividends. Couldn't care less about shelf life. If it doesn't keep long, make less more often.

Best of luck with your thesis!
 

Wolfy

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While materialism is increasingly seen as unrewarding, it is also being recognized that the pursuit of materialistic pleasures can prevent the individual from experiencing other more rewarding forms of pleasure.
I have beer, food, and sex ... what "other more rewarding forms of pleasure" am I missing out on? :icon_cheers:
 

robbo5253

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I started brewing because a mate of mine had beer on tap & I couldnt think of anything better!
Once I got the basics mastered it then became more of a hobby with many different avenues to go down and one that you actually get something enjoyable out of.
Its a never ending learning curve.
Cheers
Robbo
 

Kingbrownbrewing

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I started when I realised I ran a craft beer bar and knew nothing about how beer was made...
Did an all grain brew with Scotty 'the cougar' Hargreaves from stone & wood, and got hooked.
Ended up being a very expensive learning curve.
 

fullbottle

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Thanks so much for all the replies.

Bum, that was a good point on the issue of alcohol abuse in society. Fortunately in my relatively short thesis I can acknowledge it and leave it to one side. I should have been clearer in my focus on the ethics and politics of the production process: things like exploitative labor practices. While I recognize that these issues are not as relevant to the alcohol industry as they are to say the garment industry, we might just as easily be talking about home made t-shirts or sneakers. The ethical potential I was thinking of was the home brewers ability to control (to some extent) the way the product is produced through their own involvement in the production process. It's a good point though, and I will keep thinking on it.

On the ecologically sustainable side, great point as well. This is a part of what I would like to explore as the thesis grows: whether there is an alternative mindset involved in things like home brewing and other forms of craftsmanship or DIY that can be seen as more appealing than the 'consumption as leisure' mentality that has been so heavily criticized as ecologically unsustainable.

I really appreciate the feedback and it has made me want to clarify what I am trying to do: I am ultimately focusing on alternative forms of pleasurable consumption, rather than illustrating that home brewing is an ethical or ecologically beneficial practice. Donburke, find the DIY side of it all fascinating, and I will definitely be asking some question in that direction soon. :D

Thanks again everyone for your feedback and comments. You have already been a massive help.
 

DKS

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I have beer, food, and sex ... what "other more rewarding forms of pleasure" am I missing out on? :icon_cheers:
A shed. Every man needs a shed. Thats where you go after ............. and have more beer and tell your mates and talk bullshit and play with your fishing gear and guns and ............ A shed. Sheds are good. Get a shed. Life is not complete without a shed. Bahhahahha :lol: But yeh youre right.
Daz
 

edschache

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"Unfortunately, there is literally (to my knowledge) no academic research on home brewing."

I would argue that there is plenty out there... half written... almost finished where someone said "I'll just have to try some of these beers to understand the subject better". These people never got back to finishing the paper as they're too busy motorising their mill or making a brew stand for their 3v.

I actually got into brewing as I didn't (and still don't) have a (real) kitchen in my house which is being renovated. I love to cook but in my temporary make-shift kitchen it simply isn't enjoyable enough so instead I "cook" beer under the house. From the moment I walked into craftbrewer it was never-ever going to be about saving money.

I also attempt to grow some of my own food in the garden and have spent more on gardening stuff than I would have on the produce I've harvested. Even the chickens I have which in theory give a great ROI don't really because I give most of the eggs away to family and friends.

I don't think that making beer is non-materialistic as purchased beer isn't something you stockpile, you buy it and drink it. Making your own wine rather than having a cellar full of purchased wine might come closer to that mark.

Regardless of any of this just crack open a brew and stop worrying about all that uni non-sense. It'll still be there in the morning. :p

Cheers,

Ed
 

Lecterfan

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Ethically sustainable? Really? Producing a poison for human ingestion. A poison that is widely known to be one of the most common causes of family violence/breakdown?

Lucky you're studying anthropology and not sociology.

I'll probably PM the OP with some thoughts... having said that I wouldn't do an honours thesis on anything that didn't have some existing literature as a starting point...and I hope you are starting mid year and not just gathering data now for something to hand in in Oct?! Either way, good luck.

I'm only engaging with the rest as I find it interesting and we are in the 'pub' :icon_cheers: (should probably be in the 'off topic'...or maybe just my reply should be?).

In regards to the above, there could well be strong sociological arguments in favour (bearing in mind the breadth of the notion of 'ethics'). The correlation between alcohol and family violence/breakdown is one thing, but I am not convinced that there is then automatically a tenable link to homebrewing; particularly AG (calm down non-AG brewers, I am merely referring to the investment of time and money and effort being used to produce the end product). I think it would take very little time on jstor/peer-review-search-of-choice to find that the initial correlation to alcohol is also both mediated and moderated by a number of other variables, many of which may be more parsimoniously explained via the early writings of Marx rather than the currently pathologised/DSM notions of 'isms' (where the four axes compete with each other to produce outcomes that fit the paradigm rather than attempting to actually address the broader social contexts in which they are contained).

I'm not disputing the link, merely noting that to draw inferences from that link without acknowledging the broader horizon that the link is foregrounded on is questionable in any of the social or human 'sciences' (or really in any discipline - after all, it's the rigour of the researcher/practitioner at the end of the day).

But then I'm all about the hermeneutics, baby. :beerbang:
 

bum

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but I am not convinced that there is then automatically a tenable link to homebrewing
Yeah, I would say that there is much in the deleted elements of your post that would ring true for many, specific cases (even if we don't understand them :blink: ). However, I think there is just as little sense in arguing that it just doesn't happen to AGers (not saying this is your suggestion) or that alcohol driven problems are not higher amongst the AG community than, say, those who do not drink alcohol. Definitely not wanting to say that brewing your own will make someone more likely to encounter such problems but to frame it exclusively in ethically positive terms simply isn't sustainable. There's more good to it than bad, of course - that's why we're all here.

[EDIT - stupid word was dumb]
 

manticle

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Might not be loads of academic literature on contemporary homebrewing but if you think of it in an historical context of small scale, local brewing you might find more.

I agree with Lecterfan - I wouldn't be trying to write a masters (by coursework or research) or PhD thesis on something without existing literature but you probably are well aware of this no matter which level you are on.

Happy to come back with some answers to your questions when I have a bit more time.
 

Nick JD

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I originally started brewing because I wasn't old enough to buy beer.

Then I did it to save money - well, I did it because I wanted beer and didn't have money.

Then I made cider. :icon_vomit:

Along came the internets (from which I can learn to deliver a baby ferret or disarm a tactical nuclear weapon) so I learned me some brewing.

Now I find myself making and drinking beers that contain nothing but ingredients from the country of the style's origin.

I reckon the day I add a non-yeast micro organism to my wort I will have finished the journey.
 

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