Hop Madness

By Posted on Jan 31 2018 | By

Homebrewing offers tasty and creative outlet for boomers 

In 1980 there were 80 craft breweries in the United States. Today, over 5,300 dot our sudsy landscape. Even small towns and villages often sport a wee brewhouse where locals gather to quaff artisan beer.

There’s never been a better time to hoist flavorful brews that are the polar opposite of the watery libations that have dominated our domestic beer world for decades.

So what triggered the shift from quantity to quality?


In 1979 a Federal law was enacted permitting brewing at home. States vary on exactly how much is allowed; in Virginia it’s 200 gallons annually for a two adult household. That’s about 2,000 bottles.

But please, don’t go there unless you’re sharing.

With such dramatic growth many nascent brewers began to realize, “Hey, my stuff tastes pretty good. Maybe I should go commercial” which they did in droves resulting in today’s commercial craft beer ascendancy.

It’s a classic example of free enterprise coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit being unleashed by market opportunity.

There are now 1.2 million homebrewers scattered across all 50 states with new adherents joining the hop army daily. A growing number of hobby brewers are baby boomers looking for a creative outlet for their newly available spare time.

It also offers the sociability inherent in a local community of homebrewers. A double your pleasure double your fun success story.

Getting started
Open a bottle of today’s craft beer and the furthest thing from most folks mind is, “I bet I could make something this tasty.” Well here’s a shocker. You can.

Homebrewing has advanced to the degree that producing a beer that will win friends and influence people is not only easy but fun and rewarding. Google the term Homebrewing and you’ll get 6.8 million results. You won’t be wandering in a brewer’s desert in your quest for a good, personally made beer.

Added to that level of support are homebrew shops, online suppliers and local clubs that thrive by assuring good beer is as easy to make as using a church key. If you can successfully bake a box of brownies, you can craft a beer you’ll be proud of.

As you launch your career as a brewmaster be sure to sip before your guzzle. In the beginning it’s recommended you start with easy extract malt kits and later migrate to all-grain brewing. These initial recipes are stovetop renditions made with syrup-like malt extract rather than barley.

As with any endeavor, the complexity of brewing at home ranges from easy to complex. At the high end of the game expensive equipment and personally created recipes come into play.

But your basic equipment kit and ingredients can cost less than a $150. This will include a brew pot, fermenter, tools, bottling gear and ingredients. After producing extract beers you’ll be tempted to branch out to partial-grain and then all-grain brewing.

Let “slow, slow catch monkey” be your mantra.

Enough said. Let’s get brewing!

                                                      Making it happen

Your beer career will likely start at your keyboard. Google Homebrewing then stand back and watch the hops fly. Your choices for equipment and ready-to-make kits is seemingly endless. Here are few digital and brick and mortar options to help you achieve successful lift off.

  • Midwest Supplies: One of the largest homebrew and wine making supply shops in the nation. Its website is a cornucopia of all things brewing with competitive prices and educational links to satisfy any newbie brewer. Visit them at midwestsupplies.com.
  • Northern Brewer: Another leading supply house that is equally good at providing equipment, recipe kits and guidance as you learn the brewer’s craft. Take a peek at www.northernbrewer.com/
  • Jay’s Brewing: Located in Manassas and affording the opportunity to look before you brew. It’s the oldest brew shop in the area with a knowledgeable staff and large selection of equipment and ingredients. Visit them at jaysbrewing.com or 9790 Center Street, Manassas, VA. (703) 361-2908.
  • My Local Home Brew Shop is another local resource for all wine and beer making supplies. Drop in on them at mylhbs.com or at 6201 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA. (703) 241-3874.
  • Downright Obsessed Homebrewers: A local club of homebrewers located in Manassas. The club brings together both new and experienced home brewers sharing beers and recipes in a collegial atmosphere. Visit them at dohnova.com.
  • American Homebrewers Association: The granddaddy of educational websites that offers information on a large number of recipes, events and competitions. Its members total over 4,100 brewers. Its charter is to promote and protect American craft brewers. Learn more at homebrewersassociation.org/


Published in the January 2018 edition of BOOM magazine.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES