I can’t understand why more people in Ireland don’t homebrew. Despite the Irish reputation, pubs in Ireland (while being full of ‘craic’, whatever that is) don’t tend to have a very large range of beers. You’re lucky if they have more than 5, and probably in the Porterhouse if they have more than 10.
So, a few years back, I decided, that since quite I liked beer, and having had a (then) girlfriend who spent a few months behind the bar at the Porterhouse after completing her PhD., I’d have a go at brewing my own.
To my surprise and amazement, it’s not that hard, at least to the level I’m doing it at so far. Starting off with a small amount of equipment, and a simple “just add sugar” beer kit, within a month or so, I had pretty decent beer in bottles. The only hard part, was finding somewhere that sold brewing equipment – I couldn’t find anywhere in Dublin that sells it (despite being told there was a shop in Ranelagh a few years ago) – the internet was my only hope.
Over the intervening few years, I’ve become a little more adventurous in my brewing, a treacle-stout and a really nice Duvel-clone being among my better brews. I’m still firmly in the realm of extract-brewing, but I’m buying extract on it’s own (both dried and liquid), and haven’t been afraid of adding my own hops or specialty grain. I’ve also experimented around with different yeast varieties. All-grain brewing is the next step up, but I’m just not sure if I want to go to that extra level (both in terms of brew-day complexity or equipment budget) We’ll see.
The result of home brewing is definitely worth it – beer that’s as good as, and frequently better than much of the beer you get in the shops and pubs. And on top of all that, the process of brewing beer is pretty interesting, and on the whole therapeutic. I’d definitely recommend you give it a go.