For your entertainment, I present to you some of the highlights that fermented (yeah…) from a group of homebrewing vets swapping war stories. If you’re a homebrewer, I invite you in for a therapeutic vent by proxy— and, of course, to see whether any of these brewing pet peeves resonate with you. No, I’m not promising any cliché Good Will Hunting psychological breakthrough moment, but at the very least, you should be able to gain some quantum of solace from the fact that you’re not suffering alone. If you’re not a brewer yourself but nevertheless a fan of artisanal beer, after reading this laundry list of complaints, you might be tempted to ask yourself with all the headaches that come with homebrewing, why does anyone do it? Fair question. Though I can’t answer for every brewer, I suspect that for the most of us, no matter how woeful the laments of the homebrewer may be, in the end, the call of brew kettle is just far too mighty a thing to resist; not to mention that us homebrewers have a secret weapon that keeps us fighting the good fight despite all odds (more on that at the end).
As a side note, contrary to what you might have heard about some of the less than savory types skeezing around the shadier corners on the reddit landscape, the homebrewing forum is a hidden gem, predominately comprised of some of the most helpful, creative, and supportive people around (that’s just part of the homebrewer’s DNA). Sure, there’s the occasional good-natured ribbing, but all in all, it’s an interactive place to share ideas and have a laugh while you’re at it.
So on behalf of grumbling homebrewers everywhere, I offer you a compilation of the top 30ish things (in no particular order) that homebrewers like least about their craft:
“I hate cleaning. Trying to sanitize an auto-siphon drives me to insanity.”
“I see your cleaning, and raise you a disappointing final brew. If it’s not perfect, it’s disappointing.”
“Waiting for the wort to chill…”
“Being a human forklift.”
“Living an hour and a half from the closest LHBS [local homebrew store].”
“Drinking the last beer of a really good batch.”
“Forgetting something. So many moving parts going around on brewday, I inevitably forget something, be it cleaning and sanitizing the autosiphon, or buying new tubing or fresh ice. Anything that keeps me from sitting down with a beer and watching the brew boil is a stressor.”
“Delayed gratification. Boil-overs.”
“The fact that fermentation takes time. Nothing like watching your protobeer, imagining how delicious it’ll be, wondering exactly what hop character came through, etc.”
“Whenever anyone asks me about brewing because they are curious about doing it themselves, I ask them whether or not doing the dishes is their favorite chore. If they say anything but “yes” I advise them to just buy good craft beer instead.”
“Running out of propane mid-boil.”
“I always end up with the first world problem of brewing way more beer than I should really drink… so I hate when my kegs are still full and I’ve got a beer that’s done fermenting that I really want to try.”
“I hate putting hours of work into bottling only to end up with 20 gallons of sweet, flat beer.”
“I had someone ask “Is this [homebrewed beer] going to make me blind?”, but did it with a smile that indicated they were prepared for the blindness but just wanted to confirm. Those are the fun ones.”
“Bottling. I just really dislike bottling.”
“Currently, trying to convince the two others in our brewing group to brew on a schedule. Not brewing equals WTF.”
“Delabeling and the initial cleaning of commercial bottles.”
“As a beginner, I dislike the not knowing. Example: I’m waiting for some beer to carbonate. Will it? Has it? Was it too cold? Should I move it? I better move it. Wait, maybe I shouldn’t move it. I’ll just leave it. I’ll just wait and leave it where it is. Tomorrow, I’ll have the same conversation again.”
“Filtering the internet noise to find answers.”
“When I make a so-so batch (bad recipe, infection, whatever…) and I end up with 5 gallons of beer that I don’t care so much for, not good enough to give away, and not terrible enough to throw down drain.”
“Having a majority of my non-brewing friends not be “beer drinkers”.”
“Waiting for the wort to boil after adding the extract.”
“Seven hour brew days.”
“Freaking siphoning. It’s so hard to maximize what you can pull out while minimizing the lees. And then once it’s all done you either have floaties in your final product, or the guilt of leaving like a quart in the carboy.”
“Waiting. I’ve got boxes and boxes of beer in the closet waiting to reach its prime, waiting to bottle, waiting to carb. Dammit, I want beer now!”
“When people ask me how to do it expecting a quick answer.”
“People who ask to hang around for a brewday to “see how it’s done” and expect it to all be done in an hour.”
“Negotiating time with my wife.”
Take a deep breath: You’ve just successfully completed a journey through the complaint box of the homebrewer. As is the case with just about everything, homebrewing comes with its own little set of frustrations— no doubt about it. But unlike other crafts, homebrewing has a built-in, seven letter, Wolverine-like self-healing factor that enables the homebrewer to recover from aggravation with resilience, ultimately putting things back into a proper prospective. You guessed it: RDWHAHB (Relax, Don’t Worry, Have A Homebrew).
Now if we could only apply that credo to all parts of life…
Let’s toast to that.
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Hi, I’m Dan: Beer Editor for Beer Syndicate, Beer and Drinking Blogger, Gold Medal-Winning Homebrewer, Beer Reviewer, AHA Member, Beer Judge, Shameless Beer Promoter, and Beer Traveler. Interests? Beer.