Here’s an interesting take on homebrewing in America: namely, less people are doing it than before.
What I am reminded of is that anecdotes are not data, and that the fact that less people have to Google “homebrewing” as a term isn’t necessarily an indicator that the hobby is “dying”. I know that in the homebrew club I belong to, membership has been slowly on the rise-but again, that isn’t proof.
In a rare instance, the comments of the essay are worth reading: bringing up other reasonable concerns such as ‘we don’t have as much money as we used to’ (provably true), ‘you seem to need a LOT of specialized equipment now’ (false, but with qualifiers), or ‘homebrew shop websites are kinda trash’ (well…YMMV) as reasonable barriers to entry.
The one argument that I think holds water is that commercial breweries are prolific enough, both in volume and scope, that the needs of most of the audience is being served. Gluten free ales? You got it. Belgian browns made with chocolate and peanut butter? Someone’s doing it.
Part of the drive to homebrew does come from wanting to make the beer that the market doesn’t provide…but if the market is providing then what you have is a nice hobby. A hobby that maybe you don’t have to put as much time into as you did before.
For the time being though, I see new people getting into it and at least as far as my homebrew club is concerned, a drive to educate and help new people learn and connect. Connections with people are what keep anything lively and thriving: community matters.
Still, I have to wonder if homebrewing will become-if it isn’t already-the kind of thing that people who knit, or rebuild old cars do.