Brewing Your Own Beer - The FAQ

Posted by Tim Vandergrift on

 

  1. What is Homebrewing?

Homebrewing is the brewing of beer and other beverages through fermentation on a small scale as a hobby for personal consumption, amateur brewing competitions or other non-commercial reasons.

Brewing on a domestic level has been done for many thousands of years but has been subject to regulation and prohibition during some time periods in certain places. Modern Homebrew brewing is now convenient, easily accessible and yields excellent results from the very first batch.

  1. Why should I get into Homebrewing?

People make their own beer for a variety of reasons. It can be cheaper than buying commercially equivalent beers; it allows people to adjust recipes according to their own tastes, creating unique beverages that aren’t available anywhere else; entering your own beers into competition is a wonderful challenge and gives great feedback. But mainly you should get into Homebrew brewing for the same reasons you learned to prepare your own food: you can control the flavour and aroma of your beer, the ingredients that go into it and take pride in making a great beer—and sharing it with others.

  1. What will my beer taste like?

The answer might surprise people who have never brewed before: it will taste wonderful! Most non-brewers haven’t had the good fortune to taste fresh beer, and fresher is better! The flavours are lush and bright, with rich maltiness, bright grainy notes, crisp hops and refreshing carbonation, all true to style, from dark, luscious stout to tangy German Hefeweizen.

  1. Is it hard to make?

If you can successfully make breakfast (cook oatmeal, and make a pot of tea or coffee), you already possess all the skills necessary to make your own beer. It’s cooking for thirsty people!  

  1. What styles of beer can I make?

There are dozens of styles of beer available, from standards like American lager or English Pale Ale to Imperial India Pale Ale and Robust Porter: you could make a new beer every week and not repeat yourself for a year! You can make your favourite commercial style or try something new and delicious.

  1. How long does it take?

Your first brew day will take a little bit longer as you sort your way through equipment and ingredients, but when you’ve got that under your belt you can make a standard batch in half a day, from start to finish. There is a commitment in time, but most people finish in four hours or a little longer and treat it as a hobby day.

  1. Do I have to age my beer before I can drink it?

Fresh beer is best! Once your beer has completed fermentation, you’ll have to wait two to three weeks for it to carbonate in the bottle, and then you can enjoy delicious fresh beer.

  1. Is Homebrewing popular?

It’s no exaggeration to say that Homebrewing has exploded in the last decade: tens of thousands of people now brew their own beer, with more starting every day, and interest in new styles and brewing techniques, beer festivals and beer clubs continues to grow.

  1. Do I have to use sanitizers on my equipment – Why, and are they safe?

Cleanliness is next to goodliness: as with any food preparation, it’s important to keep your working areas and equipment both clean and sanitary. One of the reasons that beer ferments so well is the highly nutritious makeup of the wort (unfermented beer). Yeast grow well in beer, and so would other micro-organisms. Cleaning to remove soils, stains or other matter, followed by a sanitizing treatment will ensure that only the yeast get a chance to act on the beer.

The sanitizers used in beer making are as safe and useful as any home cleaning product—in most cases they are much less harsh, as they are designed to be safe for use with food products.

  1. Is it expensive to make beer?

Not at all! You’ll need to buy brewing equipment and a pretty big brew kettle (unless you already have a 30 litre pot in your cupboard), but that will pay for itself with your first batch. In fact, you’ll find that even a standard beer recipe will save you at least half off the commercial price, and when you start making bigger and bolder styles, you’ll cut your beer budget my more than two-thirds!

  1. Are there any recipes that are similar commercial beers?

We have a recipe book of local styles are based on commercial equivalents, many of which you’ll already be familiar with. On the other hand, some are very specialized styles— while they are available in some areas, many people might not have tried, like Gose, Sahti, smoked beers, or beers made with Rye!

  1. How many bottles does it make?

Standard recipes make 19 litres, or about four Imperial gallons of beer, which yields 4-dozen standard 330 ml bottles—eight six-packs.

  1. What do I need to make beer?

Most people start out with some basic equipment: a fermenter or carboy, bottling bucket, siphon rod and hose, bung, airlock, a spoon, a thermometer and a hydrometer—which are all available packaged into one box so you don’t miss any items.

The brewing style we teach, and most folks eventually wind up doing, is all-grain. It requires a mash tun and a kettle (brew pot), or a brew-in-a-bag setup. It's too much to explain it all here, but It can help you make better beer, at the trade-off of taking a little more time and requiring a bit of guidance in the beginning, and a cost of around $150 dollars, depending on options.

But it pays for itself in a couple of batches, as the ingredient costs on a regular brew are much lower than buying beer!

Finally, depending on how much beer you want to make you could purchase extra carboys, or a kegging system (draught on tap in your own home), but you can start with the basics and get brewing right away!

Interested? Come down to Fraser Mills and we'll hook you up! 

 


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