I never really got into it with the idea of comparing my homebrew to something commercial at first. It was more that I'm the kind of person that would rather make something myself than buy it if I can along with the idea that with homebrewing I could drink to my taste. Let me expound on that for a moment. I've always loved beer, and after discovering that there was far more to beer than just Miller Genuine Draft and Miller High Life (my dad's staple beers when he was able to drink), I found that I had a real love for what I suppose could be called more like craft beer. Rogue, Erie Brewing Company, Penn Brewery, even Guinness. The problem with that was that being a poor college student at the time, I couldn't afford to drink that sort of beer nearly as often as I'd like. I usually had a case of something around, but I horded it. I always wanted to drink those sorts of beer all the time. I'm no longer a poor college student, but now I've found myself to be a poor contractor. Starting out on my own when the bottom was falling out of the market didn't do me any favors, but that's another story.
I had looked into home brewing when I was at college, but the cost to get started with decent equipment and do it right exceeded what I saw reasonable to spend at the time. Fast forward a few years and my brother buys me all of the stuff to do it right for Christmas one year. That was all I needed, I dove in with both feet. I've made some, in my opinion, good beer and some not-so-good stuff. So far, I've only had one that ended up needing dumped, so I think I'm doing fairly well with it. Cost of equipment aside, I'm able to make two cases of beer that I like for the cost of buying one from the store, and that makes it affordable to me. And I'm happy to finally be able to drink to my taste preference on a regular basis. Of course, I'm always looking to improve, but I'm satisfied in the fact that I've achieved my desire to drink the types of beer I enjoy.
As far as comparing my beer to commercial stuff.... I ended up with an unwelcome surprise in that regard. I had never planned to compare mine to commercial, but I had heard a lot of good things about a somewhat local brewery and ended up taking a date there one night. When I went home, I was disappointed in a lot of things. The food was good, but rather overpriced. I didn't really hit it off with my date. And most of all, the beer was.... tolerable. Barely. My first selection was a Scottish Export for around $10 a pint. My first two sips left me frowning at my glass. I still can't put my finger on what beer it was, but one of my home brews tasted EXACTLY like it. Kind of upsetting when you consider that at the time, I was just starting to experiment with partial mash brewing, most of my stuff was modified extract kits. My second beer, whatever it was, was ok, but nothing worth remembering. My third and final beer was a winter warmer. I was excited with the prospects of making it my desert. But it proved to be.... watery. Bleh.
Now I find myself looking at commercial beers very critically and often asking for samples before I'm willing to commit to a glass of anything commercial. I find it rather upsetting to be drinking a beer out somewhere and thinking that I could be comfortably seated at home with a premium cigar in hand, my faithful German Shepherd by my side and a better tasting brew that I made in my glass.