Is Homebrew Dying (Or Is The Hobby Alive and Well?)

The popularity of most hobbies experiences ups and downs, but some might wonder if homebrewing beer is dying out or still alive and well.

Homebrewing beer peaked in popularity as recently as around 2006, but it has held to a steady level of interest in the United States since then. Continued interest in craft beer, new beer styles, and tech-infused brewing equipment has allowed homebrewing to stay fresh and interesting.

Let’s take a look at the overall size of the homebrewing market, craft beer interest as a whole, and a quick look at why hobbyists might want to take a look at brewing beer at home!

Is homebrewing beer still popular as a hobby in 2021?

Now that most parts of the country are opening back up and enjoying beer at restaurants, are people still making their own at home?

Compared to March of 2020, peak numbers for most at-home hobbies, searches reported on Google Trends for homebrewing are way down. It spiked again in December of 2020, presumably because many received homebrew kits for Christmas, and then dropped again in March back to baseline numbers. Overall, the trend of homebrewing beer has stayed fairly stable for the past 10 years or so.

There has not been a steady downward drop in the number of searches, however.

The data shows that every month sees a short uptick and then a drop in the number of searches by the end of the month. This may be due to the physical time it takes to brew at home; people may not be searching for tips while they are bottle conditioning or fermenting. 

How big is the homebrew market?

According to tech giants like LG, the homebrew market is expected to keep bringing in more sales, who launched the world’s first capsule beer brewing device for home-usage. Controlled by smartphone apps, WiFi-capable, and digital thermostats, they strive to make homebrewing easier in the digital age. 

Drizly, a popular app that allows you to order alcohol from your phone and have it delivered to your door, reported an increase in IPA sales in this article. It was their second-best-selling alcohol product on their app, just under the wildly popular hard seltzer. The reason for this increase is likely due to the many different subcategories of IPAs, and their popularity amongst millennials. 

IPAs are more popular with homebrewers, as well as connoisseurs. They are more favorable than lagers because more often than not, they carry fewer risks as far as off-flavors and salvageability. According to Drizly, they are more profitable, another reason they are becoming more popular with homebrewers. 

Is craft beer losing popularity?

Craft beer is quickly becoming an oversaturated market, with historic highs of 8,000 breweries reported in the US in 2019. We’re seeing what we typically would define as a “bubble”, about to burst suddenly and unexpectedly. But experts are saying now that maybe it isn’t a bubble after all. 

When we first saw a rise in popularity among craft beers, we saw them on retail shelves. Consumers were overwhelmed by the sheer variety of the different kinds of beer, where there had previously been only one or two different 12-packs. The craft brewers had an answer for this dilemma, which was on-site selling. A few years after the spike in craft beers on retail shelves, we saw a spike in the number of breweries opening. 

With an oversaturated market, we would typically expect to see more closures than openings of breweries, and we would expect that they would level out at some point. This hasn’t happened yet, and it is predicted that more craft breweries will continue to open in 2021 with minimal closures. 

What this means for homebrewers, however, is that we may see a decline. Homebrewing gained popularity due to the wide range of flavors and ABV that brewers could make themselves. However, with the growing popularity of craft beer, we have seen a growing diversity.

Now, what homebrewers previously had to either make themselves or search high and low for, can typically be found with more ease than in previous years. 

Is it worth it to brew your own beer?

If you’re looking to start brewing your own beer, examine exactly what your reasons are for doing so. As I stated above, the industry is quickly becoming oversaturated. If you’re looking to make your own beer to start selling, and potentially open your own brewery, I would advise that you stick to brewing beer for pleasure. 

If you find your tastebuds are so superior that they cannot be satisfied by any of the craft beer produced by any of the 8,000 or so breweries in the US, I would recommend brewing it yourself. The cool factor of proudly saying, “Yeah, I brewed this myself actually,” is also not something that will lose any of its coolness any time soon. 

Homebrewing as a hobby, like any other hobby, needs to be treated as such. With homebrewers leaving their homebrews for craft brew, we may see a drop in prices for homebrewing equipment. Capitalize on this, and get your equipment at a lesser cost, and enjoy the process.

So, is homebrew dying?

Homebrewing as a hobby is on the decline, but it’s not dying yet. As I stated above, we see a rise and drop in search terms related to homebrewing every month but there hasn’t been a steep decline enough for me to confidently say that homebrewing is dying. 

Craft beer is exponentially growing in popularity, and I think we will see another rise in homebrewing popularity within the next five years. If you’re a DIY-er with a passion for beer, I think you’ll get a good deal on a homebrew starter kit in the coming months as sales start to decline for manufacturers. 

If the sourdough bread trend didn’t tickle your fancy, we’ve been told that homebrewing takes similar skills. You never know if you don’t try.