Does Homebrew Taste Better Than Commercial Beer?

Making homebrew takes special equipment, time, and energy– not to mention knowledge. Considering the process, you probably want to know if it’s worth it. What is the difference between homebrew and commercial beer, and does homebrew taste better than commercial? 

Homebrew can taste the same or better than commercial beer when brewed correctly. The homebrewing process is harder to control, and several things can go wrong, leading to an off-taste. However, homebrewers can choose ingredients and customize flavors when creating their own beer.   

Commercial brew is standardized and heavily controlled, while homebrew results can vary wildly. Keep reading to understand how homebrew tastes compared to its commercially made counterpart.

Differences Between Homebrew and Commercial Beer

The differences in flavor between homebrew and commercial beer have to do with the production process. Let’s dive into what factors affect a beer’s overall taste profile.

Commercial Beer Is Brewed on a Larger Scale 

Because commercial beer is brewed on a larger scale than homebrew, companies follow precise regulations. The beer must be safe to drink and the brewing process is standardized. After all, if you had two wildly different tasting beers with the same label, it wouldn’t be reliable. 

This means the company must control all aspects of production, including temperature, equipment, and ingredient quality, to prevent these large batches from varying too much in flavor.  

When something is wrong with a batch brewed at home, you can easily toss it without losing too much money. However, if a batch is bad at a commercial brewery, they lose the entire thing, much more than at-home barrels. 

They Use Different Equipment

The list of equipment for homebrewing is long but relatively simple. It’s fairly easy to get your hands on these products. While the total cost can add up, the essential materials can all be found on Amazon at varying prices. 

However, commercial breweries require more equipment and much larger pieces. For example, the typical homebrew has 5-gallon barrels, while commercial companies use 31-gallon barrels. 

Commercial breweries also use more advanced pipes, bottling systems, and temperature and air control, leaving less room for error.  

Homebrewers Are More Likely To Make Mistakes

Because home brewers use less sophisticated machinery, they are not as precise. Many things could go wrong, leading to a funky-tasting beer. 

Elements that can lead to off flavors include

  • Lack of temperature control.
  • Oxidation.
  • Change in the beer’s pH.
  • Using poor quality water or hops.
  • Using too much or too little sugar.
  • Not using the right amount of yeast.

When homebrew is not quite right, it can often have one of the following tastes:

If you’re finding that your homebrews are all tasting the same, you might be repeating the same mistakes. My article on Why All Your Homebrews Taste the Same may help you get to the bottom of it. 

Homebrews Can Be Personalized To Taste

One significant upside to homebrew is the creativity that goes into it. You can be a homebrew chef, adding extra flavors and playing with ratios as you please.

You can play around with different grains and try adding hints of herbs, spices, and other favorites. 

If you’re a fan of both coffee and beer, try adding coffee flavor using your favorite coffee to create a personalized stout.

Homebrew Can Taste Like Commercial Beer or Better

Although it’s a matter of opinion, when homebrew is done right, it can taste like commercial beer– or even better. 

Homebrew can be made to taste like your favorite brand name beer by following specific steps. So if you like Heineken, Budweiser, or another popular beer, you can try replicating it at home. 

Watch this video on Commercial Clone Beer Recipes to get an idea:

What makes many people prefer homebrew is how you can make it taste using top-quality ingredients. 

Make sure to write down your procedures and recipes when making batches. This way, when you find one you like, you can repeat it, making sure you always have your favorite homebrew on hand.    

Is Homebrew Better for You Than Commercial Beer?

Yes, generally speaking, homebrew is better for you than commercial beer. With homebrew, you can choose the ingredients you put into your beer. 

You can select the highest quality, organic ingredients and adjust the ratios as you please. Once you get the hang of brewing your own beer, you can change amounts to make your batches strong, light, or however you please. 

Commercial beer is a for-profit product, meaning they may skim on the healthy ingredients to save costs. They often use preservatives and more sugar.

Homebrew also has higher levels of B vitamins from yeast. Commercial beers are usually filtered and pasteurized, which lowers the amount of these healthy nutrients. This may be why consumers report fewer hangovers from homebrew than commercial beer.    

Pros and Cons of Homebrew vs. Commercial Beer

ProsCons
HomebrewControl ingredients.Giving brewers a choice of healthy options.More B vitamins.You can make beer stronger/lighter, depending on preference. Can personalize flavor.More challenging to control temperature, among other elements.A higher margin for error leads to off-tasting beer.Takes time, effort, & research.
CommercialStandardized procedures.Consistent flavor profile.Easy and quick to buy.A large variety of brands with different options. Generally use cheaper, less healthy ingredients such as preservatives.Lower B vitamins.Limited to what is available in stores

Conclusion

Whether or not homebrew or commercial beer tastes better is still up for debate. However, when speaking to beer aficionados, you may find they usually prefer homebrew– assuming it’s done right. 

Homebrew can be personalized, meaning brewers can use healthier ingredients and control the strength and sweetness of the beer. They can also add extra flavors and follow their own recipes to create a beer they enjoy.

However, homebrews come with risks; if ingredients, procedures, and conditions aren’t right, you could end up with a beverage that tastes decidedly off.

About HomeBrewAdvice

Hello, my name is Simon. Together with a group of writers I write about brewing beer and making wine. We all share a passion for the great things in life, such as making stuff from scratch.

The business of HomeBrewAdvice is to bring you great information, stories and product reviews from brewing at home, and making wine


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