Beer from a Kit, It’s Still a Home Brew
Like many other home brewers, I got my start in home brewing from a kit. However, I quickly came to realize that all kits are not perceived equally. Let’s start from the beginning.
It was the weekend and I was planning on hanging out and popping open a few beers with my buddy. However, my buddy didn’t show up with the normal case of beer, he showed up with a beer brewing kit instead (alright, with a case of beer too). Now, beer brewing was something I was always intrigued by, having an interest in biology and gardening, but I never actually looked into the specifics and what it entailed.
The kit, it was a Mr. Beer kit and the beer included was dubbed “Classic American Light Standard” and looked akin to a Coors Light. Upon seeing the kit, a grin not unlike the grin I had when my grandfather bought me my first beer, quickly formed on my face. Unknown at the time, but the home brewing kit my buddy brought was going to change my like for beer into a full blown curiosity I’ve missed since exploring hobbies in my youth.
Back to the brewing, it was fairly simple and straight forward and we followed the instructions and soon had wort in our keg. Like a precious family heirloom we nestled our keg away for fermentation and awaited the time for bottling, and finally consumption.
When it came time to drink the beer, we popped it open with a few friends and eagerly threw it back and all of us were pleasantly surprised. It tasted like beer, not a craft beer, but a “standard american light” beer. With everyone giving cheers and drinking to the success of the home brew a sense of pride rolled over me.
Soon after, I began rubbing elbows with beer enthusiasts and brewers both large and small at local pubs, beer festivals, and breweries. As I’d talk with most brewers the question inevitably arose: “Do you home brew?” and I proudly stated yes. The follow-up question however brought an unpleasant surprise. “What have you brewed?” I would clarify that I just started and that I used a “Mr. Beer” kit. Boom! I could see it in their eyes, I was a kid with finger paints at a gallery for artists and was quickly cast aside as such.
There’s no doubt that brewing is an art and that the art takes lots of practice, patience, and hard work to perfect just like any other skill. Maybe I was naive, but I always thought the beer community was an open minded and inclusive community. All I was looking for was to talk and maybe get some tips on how to brew a different and better beer. After a few of the reactions I received for using a Mr. Beer kit, the pride for my home brew soon drained like a keg at a frat party.
I knew what my friend and I brewed was beer, maybe not a craft beer, but it was beer none-the-less. I went ahead and made another home brew, this time a more complex Oktoberfest. Again, my friends and I drank the home brew and it wasn’t long before my pride returned.
As I strive to learn more about home brewing and beer styles in general, I continue to say proudly that my first kit was a Mr. Beer. I may not get the best reaction from some home brewers but just like a kid learning how to bike, I started with training wheels and will soon move on.
Will I use a Mr. Beer forever? No. Was it a good foot in the door to home brewing? Yes.
In the end, I am grateful for my friend showing up at the door with this kit. Without it, I may have never looked into my curiosity for home brewing. So the next time you run into someone using a Mr. Beer kit, no matter how low level and commercial you think it is, remember that they made beer at home and are damn proud if it.
Have a recommendation on what equipment I should use or what beer I should brew next? Share it with me @PubCap. Let’s be collaborative.