It’s important to remember that homebrewing beer is a hobby that should be fun and enjoyable. If homebrewing starts to feel like a chore and or “work,” you need to take a break and figure out why and how to fix it. I recently found myself in a bit of a homebrewing slump. It’s really easy to get tired and burnt out from cleaning lots of equipment and pouring countless hours into a product that may or may not turn out the way you envisioned.
It’s very easy to overcomplicate the brewing process in hopes to optimize every ounce for ease and efficiency. Over time, some of us will have amassed so much extra equipment and brewing gadgets that our precious hobby starts to feel like an obligation. I’ve invested so much time and money into homebrewing at this point that I can’t afford to quit! I’m kidding of course but you get the idea…
I’ve seen a lot of hobbyists embark on a similar arc as me. We start with extract, move to all grain, and then continue to build until it eventually becomes bigger than what we originally bargained for. The hobby lust becomes less about the beer we’re brewing and more about those big shiny kettles. Every incremental step we take toward getting more entrenched in the hobby comes with a time tradeoff and more commitment. Sometimes we don’t realize it until we’ve gone too far.
It can be very difficult to find 6 hours to dedicate to brewing beer while balancing family, friends, careers, kids, etc. If your kettles have been sitting in the corner of your garage for 6 months, it can be even more challenging to find the motivation to brew again. If you’re having brewers guilt, it’s most likely because you’ve invested a lot of money into fancy brewing gear and don’t want to see it go to waste. You shouldn’t force something you’ve totally lost interest in, but if you’re reading this then part of you still enjoys brewing beer.
I often reflect back to my backyard extract days when all I had was a lobster pot and a plastic bucket fermenter. Those were honestly the best brew days. The beer was average at best but I had a lot of fun wishfully waiting for my beer to be done. Of course, anything fresh and new is always going to be very exciting.
How Do You Get Out of a Homebrewing Rut?
Sometimes you need to get back to the basics or try something entirely new to revitalize your desire to brew. Here are some great tips that have worked for me in the past.
- Take a break. If you’re sick of brewing, take a few months off and recharge.
- Brew a style of beer you’ve never attempted before. Try cider, mead, or wine.
- Brew a really simple SMASH beer. A great experiment and usually a simple brew day.
- Try some recipe kits. I’ve done this when I’ve felt lazy about crushing, designing, and prepping recipes.
- Save time and simplify with brew in a bag.
- Switch back to extract brewing or brew a small stovetop experimental batch (1-2 gallons).
- Try overnight mashing, a process that splits your brew day into two shorter brew days.
- Simplify your current process. Eliminate unnecessary equipment and get back to the basics.
- Try a yeast experiment.
- Try the Bud Light dry hopping experiment.
- Brew with friends and make it a social event.
- Listen to your favorite homebrewing podcast. This can give you new avenues to explore.
- Clean your brew space up and get organized for your next brew day. Reimagine your workspace so it feels fresh.
- Give all of your equipment a good deep cleaning. This will have you ready to go for your next batch.
- Upgrade old equipment. Upgrade ONLY in the case of making your brew day easier, faster, or more fun. I’m not suggesting pouring money onto the problem unless it actually makes sense.
I recently took stock of my own brewery and eliminated “stuff” that was simply adding zero value to my brew day. All the extra “stuff” is more stainless steel that ends up soaking in a bin at the end of a brew day. I moved equipment around to make my brew day and cleaning processes easier. Taking a step back and analyzing your pain points and processes is a good way to make the dreaded parts of brewing a little easier. Fix the things that bug you or cause aggravation.
Don’t feel bad about abandoning unused equipment or changing course for simplicity. I have a yeast stirrer that’s been collecting dust for a few years now since switching to pitching multiple packets of yeast. Yes, it’s more expensive, but it keeps me brewing. There are a handful of things I have moved on from in exchange for shortcuts and simplicity. Sell the stuff you no longer use/need and only keep the stuff you actually use! A great process for clearing your head as well and getting really organized.
At the end of the day, I find a lot of joy in finally tasting my final product. While it’s not always perfect, it’s always a learning experience and is usually very rewarding. Don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t be too critical of your beer. Enjoy your homebrew for what it is—a totally unique creation that you made.