A Brief History of Homebrewing and Craft Beer

Craft beer has become a popular choice for beer drinkers.  

Craft beer has become a popular choice for beer drinkers.  

It’s no secret that craft beer has become a major force in the world of beer. In fact, according to the Brewer's Association, the craft brewing industry grew by 15% in volume in 2012 alone. What you may not know is that the craft beer movement is a product of a generation of home brewers who preceded it.

It may surprise you to know that homebrewing doesn't just include beer. Homebrewing also refers to making wine, sake, mead, cider, perry and other beverages in your home. These beverages are made through fermentation on a small scale for personal consumption. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages can be made at home (don't worry, we'll stick to alcoholic ones).

Alcohol has been brewed for over 7,000 years, beginning in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), Egypt and China. At first, they produced thick beers, and the wives directed the production of the alcohol in large households. Brewing beer and wine was passed from the Egyptains to the Greeks and then finally the Romans.

Fast forward to 1920 in the United States. The manufacturing and consumption of alcoholic beverages are outlawed. Breweries across the United States closed or started making malt for non-alcoholic purposes due to Prohibition.

Some brewing companies who sold malt for non-alcoholic purposes, included a warning on their label. It warned consumers to not boil the syrup in water with hops and add yeast once it cools. Of course, if someone were to ignore this warning, they would have a (foul tasting) beer to drink. It was also frequently combined with other illegally produced alcohol, creating the earliest American beer cocktails. Summer brew, anyone?

When lawmakers changed their minds, the national prohibition of alcohol was repealed by the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933. However, homebrewing remained illegal. It wasn't until 1978 that homebrewing small amounts of beer and wine became legal. We have Jimmy Carter to thank for that. He signed the bill, H.R. 1337, into law in October 1978.

Homebrewing has remained a popular hobby because it allows people to adjust recipes according to their own tastes. In fact, that is exactly how Border Brewing Company got it's start. We want to brew beer that matches our customers' tastes. Your voice will always be an important part of the decisions made at Border Brewing Company.

Tell us, have you ever given homebrewing a shot? What's the best beer you've brewed? Leave a comment below with your homebrewing experiences.