An Overview of Home Brewing: History, Ingredients, Process

Home brewed beer is easier and more popular than ever. The feeling of cracking open a bottle of your very own home brewed beer is both rewarding and satisfying. With dozens of home brew kits to choose from, why not dive right in and try your hand at brewing your own delicious beer. This article will introduce you to the basic history, ingredients, and the process involved to create your own delicious beer.

A Brief History:

Before the ingredients and process are explained, it is interesting to note just how home brew beer became so popular. As more and more immigrants from all over the world arrived in the United States, they brought with them their own unique techniques and recipes for making beer. National brands did not exist yet and each batch of beer brewed was unique. Prohibition put a huge dent in the beer industry as only a few major breweries reopened after this period. With advances in technology and distribution, macrobrewerys emerged with the ability to produce much more beer and to distribute it to much more people. With an eye to standardizing beer in order to create a national brand, breweries lightened beer and added more carbonation. However, as time passed, the desire for a return to unique, flavorful beer grew. To the joy of beer enthusiast all over the United States, President Jimmy Carter finally legalized personal home brewed beer in 1979.

The Ingredients:

The four main ingredients in beer are malts, hops, yeast, and water. Malt is created by soaking the grain in water until germination begins. Basically, malts provide the enzymes and starch which will be broken down into simple sugars. The simple sugars will be used by the yeast, creating alcohol and carbonation. Hops add the bitterness that is necessary to counterbalance the sweetness of the malt. And finally water is another crucial ingredient. Water is often overlooked but great tasting water is necessary for great tasting beer. If your water source has a distinct taste or is not pure then a safe bet is to buy store bought water.

The Process:

Cleaning and sanitizing all equipment is the first step and is of extreme importance. Poorly cleaned equipment used to home brew may result in poor taste. Next, wort must be created. For convenience, wort is usually prepackaged for use in home brew kits. Fermentation occurs next. Fermentation is the process of yeast turning sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Next, the beer now needs some carbonation. There are two ways to achieve this. The first is natural carbonization and is achieved by adding fresh wort or sugar to the finished beer before it is bottled. The alternative is to use compressed co2 cylinders to pressurize kegs. Natural carbonization is the more common method of carbonating for home brewers. And the last step is conditioning. This step is not necessary but will improve the flavor of the beer. This step involves allowing any remaining yeast to metabolize by letting the beer simply sit for a month.

Like with many worthwhile hobbies, creating your own home brew can be picked up in an afternoon but perfecting it can take a lifetime. Hopefully this brief overview has given you enough insight into home brewing and you will take the next step and try your hand at brewing up a batch of delicious, flavorful home brew beer.