|A homebrewer weighs out grain at Siciliano's|
Recently I’ve been reflecting about how inadequate the word “hobby” is when it is applied to the activity of homebrewing. Merriam-Webster defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside’s one’s normal occupation that is engaged in for relaxation.” While that may be a suitable definition for some leisurely pursuits, I would argue that activities such as homebrewing are practiced for much more substantial reasons and thus deserve to be defined in a much broader context.
In the daily grind of our lives there are things that we have to do and others that we choose to do. The things that we have to do—our jobs, our responsibilities, our commitments—tend to sap our energy and chip away at our essence. The process of constantly performing mundane duties denatures us in the same way that the processing of wheat into white flour results in the loss of essential nutrients. The things we choose to do on the other hand—our leisurely pursuits, our hobbies—add things back. They rebuild our psyches and feed our souls. They enrich us.
During my years of selling homebrew supplies, I have watched countless folks get consumed by the process of homebrewing. It becomes embedded in their psyches. They embrace it like a religion and it becomes an integral part of their being. They become passionate about brewing and are eager for others to share in that passion. The activity of brewing helps to define who they are. “I’m a homebrewer,” they proudly announce to anyone who will listen. Perhaps “enrichment” would be a more appropriate term for any activity that has the fundamental ability to accomplish that.