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Local beer’s deep homebrewing roots

Photo courtesy LoveLocalBeer

Don’t miss the simultaneous toast on Saturday, May 4 – designated by the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) as “Big Brew” day – at 1:00 p.m. ET – during which homebrewers around the country will say “Cheers” with a glass of their own or a friend’s homebrewed beer in advance of National Homebrew Day (May 7).

The U.S. Congress officially accepted May 7 as National Homebrew Day in 1988; a decade later, the AHA created “Big Brew” so that homebrewers, along with their homebrew clubs and beer-loving friends, could come together to make, toast with, and celebrate great homebrewed beer.

This year’s official “Big Brew” recipes are TransAtlantic Blonde from the book “Simple Homebrewing” by Drew Beechum and Denny Conn, and Battlecow Galacticose, a New England milkshake double IPA from Providence Brewing Company.

Big Brew logo courtesy American Homebrewers Association

In a room filled with professional brewers – whether they’re a single-brewer show at a hyperlocal taproom or one who presides over a giant commercial operation – ask a simple question: “Who started out as a homebrewer?” It’d be surprising if every single one of them didn’t raise their hand.

It’s a natural progression, really: From hobbyist to enthusiast to pro. Chat up your local craft-beer person and you hear the same refrain: “I’d been a homebrewer for [5/10/25] years and decided it was time to make the move to commercial.”

Add to that expertise a passion for their craft, the willingness to talk about their job and the enjoyable end result, and a feeling of warmth toward their communities and patrons, and you have the right environment for the explosion of local breweries and taprooms that we’ve seen in the U.S. over the past five or so years.

Some homebrew-ingredient stores decide to go all the way up the chain and also brew beer and operate a taproom (one example: Strange Brew/Strange Brewery in Marlborough, Massachusetts – read his story on LoveLocalBeer here). Combining a supply shop and taproom could jump-start a homebrewer’s imagination and creativity and perhaps nudge beer-tasting enthusiasts to create their own at home.

So, readers, don’t forget to ask your local-beer proprietor their first/favorite/worst homebrewing stories. And wherever you go, when you travel around the U.S. and the world, don’t forget to ask people: What’s your local?

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