Make Your Own Beer at Home, Really!
Have you ever thought about brewing your own beer at home? It is not as hard as some people make it sound. It is actually a lot of fun to create and make great tasting beer that you can drink and be proud of. There are lots of different brewing kits available online and at your local Home Brewing store that can help you with the process every step of the way. And the cost? Depending on the type of beer and ingredients, you can then make 5 gallons (about 2 cases) of craft beer for about $25. At a minimum price of $10 per six-pack, the same amount of craft beer would cost you at least $80 at the store. So $25 for more than $80 of beer. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
When you brew your own beer at home, you are going to need at the minimum malt, water, hops, and brewers yeast.
When it comes to malt, you have some choices. First, you could use malted grain. This is grain that has been allowed to begin to germinate or sprout, then dried and roasted. Depending on the temperature and the amount of time it is roasted, the sugars in the grain are developed and made more complex. Lighter roasts are used to supply most of the sugars needed for fermentation. Darker roasts contain more complex sugars and stronger flavors that range anywhere from caramel to chocolate and coffee. The grain has to be ground and steeped in hot water for a period of time, then drained and rinsed to extract the sugars need for the beer. The wort (which is what this liquid is called) is then boiled to make the unfermented beer.
You could also use a malt extract. Extract is created by extracting sugars from the grain, then concentrating them. Malt extracts can be liquid or dry. All you have to do is add the extract to boiling water and presto! You have unfermented beer. Both liquid and dry work well and are easy to use however dry extracts can be stored longer than the liquid form. You will also find that there are many different extracts to choose from. If there isn’t a home brewing supply store near you, you can order what you need online. For the beginner brewer, extracts are easy to use and can make some great beer.
One thing that people do not know is that making beer requires a lot of water. It is best to use spring water even though some people get good results with tap water as well. The quality and characteristics of the water used in brewing will have a huge impact in the taste of the beer.
Yeast is another big part of making beer. Yeast is what ferments the malts and the sugars into the alcohol, and also produces carbon dioxide. The type of yeast used is important since it not only produces alcohol, but it can impart a variety of subtle flavors into the beer. Brewers yeast comes either in liquid or dry form.
While you can make beer without hops, it is an important ingredient in many popular beers. Depending on the type, amount added, and when it is added during the brewing process, hops can also impart a wide variety of flavors and aromas to the beer, as well as bitterness.
As far as what equipment you will need, the basics are a pot to boil your beer, a bucket with a lid or a large bottle called a carboy with some sort of airlock to use as a fermenter, bottles to put your beer in, a hose to transfer the beer to the bottles and caps as well as a capping tool. You can get a starter kit with nearly everything you need to brew your first 5 gallon batch of beer for about $60.
It is also very important to be clean and sanitary. You need to make sure that all the equipment that you use is not only clean, but sterile. Contamination from wild yeasts and bacteria can cause unpleasant flavors in your brew.
There are thousands of free beer recipes available on the Internet, including clones of some of your favorite commercial beers. A quick search and you should have no problem finding a recipe that you like. You will see that there are certain beers that take longer than others to brew, and others that will take no time at all. settle on a style or flavor that sounds best to you and start brewing.
Making your own beer is a great way to explore your creative side, impress your friends, and to enjoy the fruits of your labor. It is something that you will only get better at over time and all of your pals and buddies will enjoy the fact that you can make them good tasting beer. Go forth my friend, and brew.