It had been very widespread in the 18th century, but gradually declined in the 19th century, due to a number of factors. The greatest probably that between 1830 and 1880 private brewers had to pay the full tax, as duty was levied on the raw materials. The only real economic advantage the domestic brewer had was being able to use ingredients banned in commercial brewing, such as raw grain.
The increasing gap between the quality of home-brewed and commercial beer was another important factor. There had been little difference in the equipment and techniques employed in a domestic brewery and a commercial one in the early 18th century. Technological advances, which had mostly passed the private brewer by, had given commercial brewers much greater control of the brewing process. Put simply, home-brewed beer could seldom match commercially-brewed beer in quality.
Commercially-brewed beer had also been relatively cheap before the outbreak of war. The increased excise duty changed that.
The "haapenny the haupint bexter" has filled the Essex and other East Coast peasantry with economic ideas, as how to circumvent such an outlay, to wash the hayseeds and the wheat and barley "hiles" from their throats. And this has taken the form of reverting to the old practice of brewing their ales, an excellent practice that the farmers will not condemn. The average home-brewed is made from malt and hops only, but that malt and hops are not so easily obtainable as they were a few years ago. I wonder how many calls would have to be made to Bristol a sack of malt and seven pounds of hops could be obtained. And then the smell and taste of sweet wort, the aromatic perfume of the hops in the old farmhouse copper, or as the liquor is set out to cool. The nine gallons of "stingo" that would prevent frostbite on a winter's morning, and the big barrel of small ale that got harder and harder as the summer drew on, until it veritably made one's eyes strike fire to drink it. A quart of West Countree "crab vergis" was mild as compared with it. Of late years this home-brewing has been a very declining industry. The popular taste has tended towards the lighter, more palatable non-deposit beers being produced by our modern brewers; but to have to pay eightpence duty on what has hitherto been sixpence per gallon harvest ale will certainly turn many a farmer's thought in the direction of his own mash-tub in non-cider-making counties. Happily, the practice of giving drinks at harvestide to agricultural workers is being replaced by extra money, a gain alike to the farmer and the labourer. And bearing this in mind, we shall not see the Excise increased to deal with the issue of licenses for brewing on the premises for home consumption only."
Western Daily Press - Thursday 31 December 1914, page 3.
The author points out the one big problem of starting to home brew again: getting hold of the materials. Difficult as it might have been in 1914, it would be completely impossible later in the war as brewing materials were rationed and allocated to brewers.
Note that this only applies to "non-cider-making counties". For the obvious reason that in cider-making counties cider still played the same role that beer once had in other parts of the country. And apples, unlike malt and hops, would always be obtainable.