Thanks to a bureaucratic oversight during the repeal of Prohibition, homebrewing remained illegal in the U.S. until 1978. Many practiced and taught the hobby—notably Boulder County resident Charlie Papazian—despite the illegalities, but all that changed on Oct. 14, 1978, thanks to President Jimmy Carter’s signature on H.R. 1337. From a federal standpoint, homebrewing was once again legal like the brew gods intended. Two months later, Papazian and friend Charlie Matzen published the first issue of Zymurgy, the journal of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA).
What happened next is the story of the craft beer revolution: Dedicated homebrewers shared their craft with others. Those others got hooked on homebrew, went pro, and created an industry. “Well over 90 percent of the craft breweries in America were started by homebrewers,” Papazian wrote in the introduction to the fourth edition of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing.
Twenty-one years after the AHA’s inception, the association partnered with the Home Wine and Beer Trade Association to celebrate Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day—later rechristened Learn to Homebrew Day.
Held on the first Saturday in November—to balance the calendar against AHA’s National Homebrew Day held on the first Saturday in May—Learn to Homebrew Day continues the spirit of sharing that has become a hallmark of the community. And not just, you try my beer, and I’ll try yours, but sharing observations, techniques, and tricks over a couple of pints of homebrew. Coming together and sharing is something we’ve consciously stepped away from for health reasons, but it’s high time to think about reconnecting with friends and family over homebrew. Besides, we hear the weather’s going to be gorgeous this Saturday.
Already a homebrewer? Perfect, find a friend who isn’t and invite them over. Are you a wannabe homebrewer? Well, you’re in luck. According to homebrewersassociation.org, participants across 13 countries and all 50 U.S. states have pledged to homebrew on Nov. 6. There’s a pretty good chance someone in your social circle will be joining the festivities. And homebrewers aren’t shy about their hobby. Chances are, if they’ve invited you over for homebrew in the past, they’ll love to have you over for homebrew again.
So Saturday’s brew hooked you. Now what? Well, if you want to learn how to cook, you go and pick up a cookbook. And anyone who wants to brew pretty much starts with Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. First published in 1984, Papazian’s introduction and guide to the fun of homebrewing has sold more than a million copies and probably inspired your favorite brewery down the street. It’s a must for anyone interested in beer. And while you’re out shopping for books, you might as well snag a copy of John Palmer’s How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Great Beer Every Time, and The Secrets of Master Brewers by Jeff Alworth. Alworth’s book is better suited for the intermediate homebrewer, but if you’ve ever wanted to know how to make those iconic ales and lagers you’ve been drinking all your life, this is where you’ll find it.
Speaking of, one of the joys of the brewing community is the accessibility of the information. Zymurgy regularly publishes recipes for how to recreate your favorite beers at home. For this year’s Learn to Homebrew Day, they have published two to start with: Fuil Croi Irish Red Ale, an all-grain recipe from Palmer’s book, and Lucky 13 Dark Mild, an extract recipe provided by Laurie Ann Gutierrez, co-host of the Brew’d Up podcast and member of the SoCal Cerveceros.
Homebrewing can be as straightforward or as complicated as you want it to be. Either way, swing by Boulder Fermentation Supply or Longmont’s Bald Brewer Homebrewing and Winemaking Supplies. Both have kits and ingredients for just about every level of involvement and budget.
Brew like crazy. Share your beer with friends, show them how you made it, and take requests. Hone your skills for next May’s National Homebrew Day. Join a homebrew club. Make friends. Experiment. Maybe someday, you’ll even start a brewery. Maybe you’ll introduce a friend to homebrewing, and they’ll start a brewery. Or maybe you’ll just have a fine time on a Saturday afternoon relaxing with homebrew watching the wort boil.