Homebrewing – Starting out

Homebrewing - Starting outIf you like beer, then you should consider homebrewing. Homebrewing allows you to customize your beer to your specific tastes. It is fun, rewardling and saves money all at the same time.

If you have never brewed beer before, that is okay. The Internet has lots of good websites with information on recipes, equipment and supplies. If you live in or near a large city, check your local yellow pages for homebrewing stores. These stores have everything you will need.

If you are going to try homebrew, start small. Do not rush out and buy a large, expensive kit. Get a beginner’s set. This set will come with everything you need for the first time brewer. Equipment, malt, yeast, hops, and bottling gear are normally found in the kit. The shop may also have books on homebrewing, but save your money. Use a search engine to find all the same information and do it for free.

Now that you have your kit, read the directions carefully. Brewing beer requires absolute cleanliness. Everything you will be using must be sterilized. Your beginner kit likely has some sterilizing solution. Be sure to use it this time and every time you brew.

Beer is basically four things: water, malt barley, yeast and hops. The different flavors and colors of beer come from the many different combinations of these four things. With water, it is best to use distilled as the flavor is typically standard and will help produce a beer that is consistent. The other three things, deciding what is best comes with time, practice and experimentation.

The experimenting and practice is exactly why until you become satisfied with a recipe, stick to small batches and quantities. It is better to make a few errors learning on a small scale than on a large scale. Your specific tastes may change slightly from batch to batch, so do yourself a favor and write down what does and does not work. Keeping up with your changes from each batch will help you out in the long run.

As you begin to brew and keep a log, remember that beer can take two weeks to months to ferment. This fermentation process may seem tedious and boring, but the reward is great. Mark the day you bottle your beer on a calendar and keep track. Forgetting you did bottle beer, although unlikely, can happen.

Another important tip with brewing is once you start, you do not need to stop until you have bottled your beer. Again, have a calendar that you can check for a day when you have nothing else going on. You will need to set aside a full day for cooking a batch of beer. Since you are making alcohol, it is not wise to have the kids help so be sure you have a kid free day as well.

Finally, you will have to have a cool, dry place to let your beer sit. An unused bathtub is ideal for the fermentation process. A bathtub is also a good idea if something goes wrong and the bottles burst. While unlikely, it can happen so having everything in a bathtub makes cleanup easier and safer.

After the long wait, you will be able to taste the fruits of your labors. Have your log book with you so you can document what you think. Be honest with yourself, this is your beer after all. There is no shame is disliking what you made, consider it a chance to improve on the next batch. If you do like it, make a second batch. If you are still satisfied with the second batch and think it is what you want to have regularly, move up a step or two in your brewing kit. A larger brewing kit allows you to make more beer in the same amount of time.