The Complete Joy of...Tinkering?
I love this hobby. And I'm not the only one.
If I had a hop pellet for every time I've heard or read someone call it an "obsession" I could brew the most bitter beer known to man!
What is is that makes people so passionate about the hobby? Is it a fascination with the idea of producing something that can get you inebriated? Is it the love of sharing the a great home-made product with friends? Is it the science?
Realistically, it's probably some combination of the above for most people. I'd also throw out one more reason which compels my compulsion: tinkering. I, and many brewers that I know, love to tinker with stuff. We're the type of people who took apart electronics and built radios as kids. We are disproportionately engineers by trade. And, we are all, at least in part, nerds.
Tinkering with gear, processes and recipes is probably my favorite part of brewing. I love to find ways to improve my system through tweaks and modifications, and have spent more time and far more money on my set-up than I have on making beer. And I'm really happy about that fact. Aside from giving me something to enjoyably occupy my time, brewing has also taught me a lot of useful skills that I may not have learned otherwise. In particular, I've learned a ton about electricity and feel like I could rewire my house if I had to (at a minimum, if something goes wrong in my home electrical system I can take a look and sometimes fix it instead of needing to call an electrician right away as I did previously). I've also learned a lot about tools and woodworking, two skills which have helped me tremendously around the house and yard as well.
So, let's raise a pint to this beautiful hobby which scratches the tinkerer's itch like few other hobbies can. And, here's to finding new and interesting things to tinker with in this bottomless well of enjoyment.