All about homebrewing
Beer brewing is an ancient art. Some people say if you can boil water and follow a recipe you can make good beer, but unfortunately, beer brewing is not that simple! There is a science to beer brewing and in order to make a great beer you must have patience for the beer brewing process. If you are having a party or BBQ this weekend and think you can save a few bucks by beer brewing yourself you will have a shoddy product that may resemble the beer that was left for 2 days on your porch. Beer brewing, much like wine making, takes time, but you can brew some fantastic beers yourself.
Beer brewing may be cheaper in the long run, but beer brewing start-up costs are quite high. Beer brewing requires special equipment, special ingredients, space, time and a stove. Luckily for the beer lover, there are loads of resources for beer brewing and there are beer brewing equipment kits available to help. If you are new to the world of beer brewing it may be a good idea to buy a kit. That way, you will not spend a fortune on your beer making equipment and can get expensive beer making equipment if you decide to continue beer brewing.
Beer Making Tips
Some beer makers claim that if you can boil water and follow a recipe, you can make good beer. So, the first rule of thumb in beer making is: follow the recipe and instructions that come with your equipment or beer making kit!
You will need a cool, dark space large enough to hold your fermenting bottles, at least two feet by two feet. A closet will do. You'll also need a stove and water.
The procedures involved in beer making can be boiled down to three main stages:
- combining the ingredients and initiating fermentation
- transferring the fermented beer, first into a secondary fermenter and then into bottles
- bottling, capping and storing your beer for further maturation and clarification.
Within each of these stages, following proper sanitizing, measuring, siphoning and sealing procedures are essential to prevent bacteria and produce great-tasting beer.
Temperature control is also essential during all stages and during storage. Yeast and enzymes are especially sensitive to the temperature of their environment, and inappropriate temperatures at any stage can destroy your beer.
Aside from precise temperature control, precise measuring of ingredients is also essential. Many beer ingredient kits will come with pre-measured ingredients, but if you are going 'from scratch', follow the measurements recommended in your instruction booklet and record any variations so you can track successes and failures.
Beer Making Supplies
To make your first batch of 48 beers, you will need:
- a 5 gallon boiling kettle or pot
- a 24 litre (7 US GAL) primary fermenter
- a 23 litre plastic secondary fermenter
- an air lock and rubber stopper
- siphoning and transferring equipment
- a long-handled mixing spoon
- a thermometer
- sanitizing and cleaning solutions
- 48 re-capable beer bottles
- 48 beer bottle crowns or caps
- a crown capper
- and, of course, the beer ingredients and a good instruction booklet
Even before you consider the type of beer, cleaning and sanitizing your equipment and beer bottles are essential to great-tasting beer. There are environmentally friendly sanitizing solutions and bottle brushes designed specifically to reach the contours of all beer making vessels.
A wort chiller may not be essential to the beginning beer maker, but it aids in quickly bringing down the temperature of your wort to the desired temperature before you add your yeast. Rapid cooling helps prevent damage to the yeast and the risk of infection from wild yeast and bacteria. If you're not ready to invest in a wort chiller at first, you can bring down the temperature by running cold water around the outside of the kettle or immersing it in a sink or tub filled with ice.
A hydrometer measures gravity to fermentation process. It helps monitor the fermentation progress, potential alcohol and helps you estimate when the beer will be ready to bottle. A thermometer tests fermenting temperature, which is very important to control.
Crown cappers come in hand-held lever or bench models.
For more information about purchasing beer making supplies online, check out the shopping links at the top of this page!