Home brewing is one of the most pleasurable and fulfilling hobbies a beer drinker can pursue. If you’ve ever been in the presence of a homebrew hobbyist, they are certainly eager to have you sample the fruits of their labor. Most people who have never brewed beer at home imagine a difficult process requiring an immense amount of equipment, including large vats, copper tubing, and giant ovens. Nothing could be further from the truth. Home brewing can be done with just a few basic pieces of equipment, and the only space needed is a small closet and the use of your kitchen stove.
People have many reasons for taking up home brewing. Some home brewers simply do not like the idea of chemical preservatives or other unnatural ingredients in their beer. Other home brewers like the satisfaction of crafting a final product with their own hands and wits. Still others are looking to save money or increase the variety of beer available to them. Home brewing allows the brewer to choose from a much larger variety of beers than are available at the supermarket. It also allows them to fine tune both the taste and alcohol content of the beer. Some of the best beers are those crafted by a single person in their home.
Home brewers, just like many beer drinkers, enjoy fellowship. Many home brewers love to socialize and interact with other brewers. Home brewing gives a person instant membership in an elite club who are one step above simple beer drinkers. Home brewers are open to sharing their recipes and listening to the stories of others who can teach them something to help them perfect their craft.
Home Brewing Facts
• Over 750,000 people home brew in the U.S.
• All equipment for home brewing costs less than $80.
• Home brewing ingredients cost an average of $35 for a 5-gallon brew.
• Total work time for brewing is 3 hours.
• Total time, from start to drinking, is 4 – 6 weeks.
With only a few basic pieces of equipment, anyone can start brewing beer at home.
• Instructions – The first thing a person needs to home brew is information. You can buy a good book at the bookstore or you can find a lot of recipes and instructions free on the internet.
• 5-gallon pot – Most recipes call for a 5 gallon recipe, so a 5-gallon pot is the minimum size required. A slightly larger pot, however, is recommended to leave room to work with. If necessary, you can use two smaller pots and brew half the recipe in each. The pot should ideally be steel.
• 2 5-gallon buckets – One of these buckets is used to ferment the brew, while another is used to siphon the liquid from the yeast. Some home brewers prefer glass, but food-grade plastic is acceptable.
• Airlock – The airlock allows carbon dioxide to escape while keeping contaminates out of the fermenting brew.
• Wire strainer – A wire strainer is needed to remove whole hops from the beer.
• Siphoning tubes – Rigid plastic or stainless steel works well.
• Bottles – Brown is best because light spoils beer.
• Bottle caps – Caps can be bought in bulk cheaply.
• Bottle capper – Some brewers don’t use it, but it does help minimize accidental breakage.
• Hydrometer – A hydrometer is used to determine alcohol content.
• Thermometer – A cooking thermometer is required to make sure temperatures are correct.
Basic beer ingredients are simple. To make a good brew only four ingredients are necessary.
• Malt – Malted barley or malted wheat are the most common malts used. To save time, many brewers use malt extract.
• Hops – Hops provides the bitterness to balance the sweet malt. Hops is also a natural preservative.
• Yeast – Yeast is responsible for converting the sugars in the malt to alcohol. Different yeast is required for ale and lager.
• Water – Water is the most important ingredient. It should be fresh and pure. Tap water containing chlorine produces beer with a bad flavor and aftertaste.