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Brewing beer

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by BRoth, Aug 4, 2007.

  1. BRoth

    BRoth Member

    I'm thinking about trying to make my own ... any suggestions about where to get a kit or what is best?
  2. GB-Hack

    GB-Hack Active Member

    I don't know about a kit to use, but I watched an online how-to guide at samadams.com. When I get around to doing it myself, I'm going to go back to it because it was very easy to follow and entertaining.

    The first batch of Sam Adams was a home-brew. The company grew from there, and they actively encourage people to make their own.
  3. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    I've heard NEVER use tap water. Tap water contains all types of chloramines which react to make it taste awful.
  4. Fly

    Fly Well-Known Member

    To me, it all depends on what you want to brew. If it's a standard lager or ale, I can't understand why anyone would want to homebrew, unless you enjoy the entire process and the satisfaction of doing it yourself. When you figure the initial outlay for equipment, supplies and recipe ingredients, it's not a whole lot cheaper than buying retail. If you love the whole idea of making your own craft beer, or want to make some big not-normally-found style then by all means go for it!

    First I would recommend you first get The Complete Joy of Homebrewing and The Homebrewer's Companion by Charlie Papazian. These two are the bibles of homebrewing, especially TCJoH. Read them, learn them, live them- especially the parts about cleaning/sanitizing EVERYTHING, EVERYTIME!

    Then find a local homebrew shop or homebrewer's club. They should be a font of information for anyone just starting out (wish I would have gotten involved with a club when I began brewing three years ago).

    I've got a homebrew shop about 15 minutes from me and the two owners are young guys who know their stuff, have everything that's needed (or can order it) and will provide all kinds of info regarding brewing. Tell them you're a newbie. If they're worth their salt, they'll bust their butts to make sure you enjoy the process, because that means you're going to be a long-term customer.

    Are you planning to bottle or keg? Extract or whole-grain brewing? You have to have the correct equipment ready to go.

    Brewing is a process, much like cooking, and you can't really hurry it along. Doing a batch from cleaning equipment, prep, mashing (extracting sugars from grains at medium-high (non boiling) temps), boiling (including hop additions), cooling, agitation, pitching yeast, locking fermenter will take a good chunk of a day (several hours). Then you let it sit a week or two to ferment, depending on the style of brew you make (lagering requires lower temps and longer fermentation, ales are much simpler).

    Don't get me wrong, I enjoy brewing. But with so many commercially available craft beers, at halfway decent prices, I can understand why homebrewing has been on a bit of a decline in the past couple years. You should be able to find outstanding beer without having to travel long distances.

    Oh, and as for the water, most brewers (home and commercial) use basic tap water. If you have soft or hard water, there are additives available to help alleviate potential problems. If you want to use filtered water, that's fine. But you'll get more off-putting flavors from a lack of sanitation than the H2O.
  5. Hustle

    Hustle Guest

    I would stay away from the kits that you can buy at your everyday department/grocery store. The ingredients tend to be stale in them.

    I'd get a book first - pretty much anything by Charlie Papazian will do you well; I also liked Stephen Synder's Homebrewer's Bible - and figure out what kind of equipment you have vs. what you need. You may be able to get by with some things in your house already - a big pot to boil wort, for example. Doesn't have to be anything fancy. If you have something with a spigot at the bottom, you've pretty much got a fermentation vessel too.

    No matter what book you get, they'll have some recipes of varying degrees of difficulty. Take the recipe and head to your local homebrew store and buy the ingredients from them; chances are they'll be considerably fresher. At the very least you'll need malt, hops and yeast.

    If you don't have a homebrew supply place near you, there are plenty of online sites that you can buy from. Try Yahoo's directory:

    The steps to making beer sound pretty simple, but you must be precise for the final product to be decent. Steeping the malt is something to be done carefully; if you're using multiple hop types, chances are there are schedules for them to be added to the wort (10 mins. into the boil, 25 mins. into the boil, etc.).

    And chances are you'll be making ale for your first batches. Lager requires wort to be chilled, which can be done, but you'll probably need a pretty extensive system to do that.

    It's been a number of years since I did any homebrewing, so this is all off the top of my head, and I do apologize if something's incorrect or outdated.

    Brew Your Own magazine is a pretty good resource, and it seems like they have a fair amount of content online (including brewing your very first batch.

    Hope that helps...
  6. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    Amazing, I was just talking about this with my boss the other day. I got this kit that had two big plastic pails, plus all the hops and grain, everything you need, including this thermometer-looking thing that measured "specific gravity." It wasn't that hard to make, but trying to figure out "specific gravity" was kinda difficult.
    The biggest pain in the ass was sanitizing the bottles (I probably had the water in the sink running for 2 hours). You have to use import empties, like Corona or Heineken or Becks, that have regular caps, not screw-tops. Any bacteria in the bottles will ruin the beer.
    It takes a few weeks before bottling. That's for ale. If you do lager, it has to be cold the whole time, so you probably need an extra refrigerator.
    The kit I had made about 50 bottles. I made two batches. I made Old India Pale Ale. The beer was pretty good, but I felt it was a pain in the ass to do.
  7. I've been looking into making my own ROOT beer. Seriously. I had a "microbrewery" root beer a year or two ago that was "Philadelphia Style" and it was amazing! A couple of months later I was browsing the periodicals at Barnes & Noble and one of the homebrew mags had a blurb on the cover about it containing an article on root beer. I picked up the mag and learned that making root beer is almost identical to making beer...just different ingredients. There's a homebrew place in the metromess that's been around for years. Someday when I have the expendable income to buy the equipment [damn my 16mm film habit!] I'll actually visit it and see what it's all about.
  8. In Exile

    In Exile Member

    Once you get into the routine, if you can make soup, you can make beer, and if you get into a pettern of making a batch a week, after about month you have a constant supply. Follow the recipes in the Papazian books, then start experimenting. The full mash process is time consuming, but if you use the extract with grain adjunct method, (essentially soaking about a pound of grain in the water while heating it up) the end product is terrific. Lagers, since they have to be kept cold while fermenting, require a cold cold basement or big old empty refrigerator. Sanitize your bottles in the dishwasher - just throw in about 1/4 cup of bleach, let it run through the full cycle (I never had any off beer after doing this) - just before bottling, or else use the small kegs. Make sure you boil your caps and let them drain in a collander before capping. It generally takes about 1 1/2 hour for the initial boil, and then you rack the beer into a new container several times over the next week to month, depending on what you are making, and bottling takes about an hour. I never bothered with checking specific gravity or anything like that, never had an issue with tap water. You are boiling it anyway, for about an hour, and I think anything funky is gone with the boil - hell, I've even used raw maple sap. You can make it complicated or make it simple, and I've kept it simple. The result being better beer than I can buy, and that includes micro-brews, at a cost of about .75 cents or a dollar a bottle. I like making bitters, IPA's, a Harpoon knock off to which I add honey and lemon juice for the summer, and a stout which includes hazelnut coffee, 12 oz. of raspberries and some chocolate.
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