Intro To Brewing

Why brew?

It’s usually the retail cost of beer that drives people into the store for the first time (and I hear it’s going up again, but then again isn’t it always?)  But what inevitably keeps brewers brewin’ is the unbelievable quality of the beer!

This isn’t your father’s “homebrew”… it’s a new generation’s “craft beer”, and it’s better than ever.

There’s also the fact that you know exactly what ingredients are going into your beer, and therefore down the hatch.  Understand that *real* beer is, and should always be: malt, hops, water and yeast.

The Germans agreed, and even made it a law!  The Rheinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law) came into law in 1516, and in its original text, the only ingredients allowed in the production of beer was water, barley and hops.  (Notice they omitted yeast?  In 1516 they didn’t know yeast was in beer — Pasteur only discovered its role some 300 years later).  There were penalties for disobeying the law: they would take away your beer 🙁

Ever notice commercial beers have a “best before” date?  Have you also noticed they don’t list the ingredients on the bottle?  You’d be alarmed at the list of allowable ingredients in commercial beer.  Let’s just say that our beer does NOT contain traces of formaldahyde, silicone or propylene glycol alginate.

So, we’re fed up with the price (you can make a two-four for about 8 bucks), and we don’t trust the brewers.  Plus, we’re a do-it-yourself generation that takes pride in our accomplishments.  Why do people bake their own bread?  Why do people knit their own mittens.  ‘Cause we can, we save money, and we enjoy it immensely.

So, now you know why people make their own beer.  Why aren’t you?

PART II – THE EQUIPMENT

OK.  You’ve made it to this article, so I’m going to assume that I’ve sold you on the merits of brewing your own craft beer.

Now you have to promise yourself that you’re going to actually do this!  (writing your promises down help you to keep them, so start by getting a journal, with the first entry being “My first batch of craft beer is going to be a ________”.)

This also means you’ll have to go shopping (at Homecraft, of course) and acquire some basic fermentation equipment.

That’s going to be the following:

a) a large food-grade primary fermenter (others call it a bucket) that holds about 30L
b) a 23L carboy (others call it a big jug) either plastic or glass
c) an airlock & stopper to fit these vessels
d) a siphon kit (this is how you move the beer from the ‘bucket’ to the’ jug’)

And there you go — that’s really the only equipment you need to make your own beer!  If you want to put it in bottles, you’ll need those too (we’ll talk about kegging later).  Glass bottles from the beer store will work – you’ll need about 3×24’s.  If you’re going plastic – 46 x 500ml or 23 x 1L will be sufficient.  Glass bottles will require bottle caps (it’s ok, they’re pretty cheap) & a capper (we can loan you one).

Our beer starter kit is a great deal if you want a complete package special – there’s a few extras in there, but you’ll save a few bucks versus piecing together the components separately.

 

PART III – THE INGREDIENTS

Good golly – you’re really going to do it!  Good for you.  I could tell by the way you read you’re a smart cookie 🙂

Now that you have all the necessary equipment, and are equipped with your basic brewing instructions, we have to pick out a kit to start with.  If you’d rather skip the kit (where all the ingredients are mixed together for you), and go right into more advanced brewing, find the intermediate brochure and start from there.

For everyone else, you’ll need to pick out a “beer kit” to start with, and you’ll be choosing from two basic types:

a) a can of hopped extract
b) an all-grain wort kit in a box                                       ps: ‘wort’ just means unfermented beer

This is what a can of hopped extract looks like:

 

Neat huh?  This little baby will make 23 litres (about 3×24’s) of beer in as little as two weeks.  Thing is, on its own, it’ll produce about only 2½% alcohol by volume.  You need to add something to it, to get it up nearer 5%.  Again you have two basic choices:

a) 1 kilogram of corn sugar (dextrose)
b) 1.2 kilograms of malt extract

In a nutshell, add sugar if you want to keep it as light as possible (body, flavour, colour) and add more malt if you want a fuller flavoured beer with more body, flavour and head-retention.  (Personally, I’d always recommend malt over sugar)

The second option is piecing together all the raw ingredients yourself (malts, grains, hops, yeast), building your own recipe – and making your OWN beer kit!   We call this intermediate brewing (there’s even a brochure for that), and it’s even fresher, and better than option #1.  You’ll have to try both ways, and see for yourself!

Unlucky you!

 

note: we even offer a craft brewing workshop, that takes a hands-on approach to learning how to brew!