My dad and I spent the latter part of the day brewing up a batch of hootch (beer) in the garage, and it got me thinking: why brew beer when you can buy it? And then I realized that the better question is: why buy beer when you can brew it?
The ease of buying consumer goods and services in our culture has basically eliminated the experience of tasting/using something in which we have played a role in producing. Is this an altogether negative reality? Not necessarily. But it is altogether fascinating to see its outcome.
Most of us can drive five minutes to the nearest liquor store and purchase as much beer as we like with a fraction of the effort involved in making it ourselves, but I wonder what the experience of consuming that purchased beer will look like compared to consuming the beer that my dad and I crafted today. I'd wager that we'd enjoy the former beer more, simply because we not only invested capital in it, we also produced it.
Value, even taste—as in the flavour of something—is not a fixed thing thing. It can change depending on the circumstances that lead to the existence of that thing. So, store bought beer might have fixed qualities that are perceived by the general population as able to produce great flavours, but what sort of flavour does personally invested work add to the taste or experience of a beer? A great deal. A very great deal indeed.
Because when we are part of producing and investing our capital in something, that something becomes more valuable to us once its complete and we re able to experience it. And to me, this in part explains why there is a good number people in our culture getting back into making, remodelling, and building of things, even if they don't have to in order to have a beautiful piece of furniture, a unique accessory, or a smooth drinking beer.
A lot of people dismiss these activities as the vain and surface practices of particular subcultures, but I think that's such statements are only the product of surface assessment of a deeper social phenomena, which is: certain people, groups, and subcultures are returning to lost traditions of production, artisanship, building, and so forth, because they are quietly resisting the outcome of a culture in which we literally don't have to build, make, shape, create, or remodel a thing if we don't want to.
Roasting coffee beans, brewing beer, knitting scarves and caps, leatherworking, wood etching, making typefaces; all these practices are a conscious decision of certain people to be part of the production of something unique and valuable, as compared to, always being the benefactor of something that is manufactured and available in mass quantities.
Yes, this beer will taste better to me when it's ready. No, not because my father an I are professionals beer crafters, but because we will be able to taste the investment, cooperation, learning, and patience t it took to make the beer we'll be consuming when it's finally ready to consume.
And that, friends, is why you and a good many other people would brew beer, even though you can buy it.