Homebrewing refers to the making of beer or similar alcoholic beverages for personal consumption, free distribution at social gatherings, amateur brewing competitions or other non-commercial reasons. The main thing needed to homebrew is patience. The brewing process, depending on the style of beer, can take anywhere from two weeks to several months or even years. Most home brewers typically brew in batches of 5 gallons but there are some enthusiasts that brew beer in far larger quantities than the typical 5 gallon batch. When you get hooked on homebrewing you will probably find that several batches in different stages of completion are necessary to ensure a ready supply.
People homebrew for a variety of reasons; homebrewed beer can be cheaper than commercially equivalent brews, however most home brewers eventually customize their recipes to their own tastes, which tends to be more expensive. If you are a fan of bitter beer, you can hop your beer far beyond what would normally be considered excessive. Move over Sam Adams! Dark beer enthusiasts can create beers, such as Russian Imperial Stout or Porter, that are the complete opposite of the paler style that is commercially dominant, particularly in the US.
Additionally, home brewers are able to create ‘specialty’ beers that are either extremely rare or entirely unavailable on the open market. Moreover, home brewers have complete control over the amount of alcohol produced (based on the amount of fermentable placed into the wort), allowing for the production of beers containing very low amounts of alcohol or very high amounts of alcohol.
Some home brewers strive for perfection of specific styles of beer and enter their products in competitions. Others simply brew to have styles of beer on hand to drink and share that are otherwise commercially unavailable.