Homebrewing – Some Insights

Homebrewing refers to the making of beer or similar alcoholic beverages for personal consumption, free distribution at social gatherings, amateur brewing competitions or other non-commercial reasons. The main thing needed to homebrew is patience. The brewing process, depending on the style of beer, can take anywhere from two weeks to several months or even years. Most home brewers typically brew in batches of 5 gallons but there are some enthusiasts that brew beer in far larger quantities than the typical 5 gallon batch. When you get hooked on homebrewing you will probably find that several batches in different stages of completion are necessary to ensure a ready supply.

People homebrew for a variety of reasons; homebrewed beer can be cheaper than commercially equivalent brews, however most home brewers eventually customize their recipes to their own tastes, which tends to be more expensive. If you are a fan of bitter beer, you can hop your beer far beyond what would normally be considered excessive. Move over Sam Adams! Dark beer enthusiasts can create beers, such as Russian Imperial Stout or Porter, that are the complete opposite of the paler style that is commercially dominant, particularly in the US.

Additionally, home brewers are able to create ‘specialty’ beers that are either extremely rare or entirely unavailable on the open market. Moreover, home brewers have complete control over the amount of alcohol produced (based on the amount of fermentable placed into the wort), allowing for the production of beers containing very low amounts of alcohol or very high amounts of alcohol.

Some home brewers strive for perfection of specific styles of beer and enter their products in competitions. Others simply brew to have styles of beer on hand to drink and share that are otherwise commercially unavailable.

The Basics of Beginner Homebrew Beer Recipes

When it comes to finding new homebrew beer recipes, you may encounter a plethora of options. It is evident that by doing an internet search or heading over to your local brewery supply store that there are many ingredients and kit options just to get started. If you find yourself as a homebrewing beginner, you might be best to pick up a premade homebrew beer recipes kit from a number of online retailers. You will also want to make sure to get your bottles, carboys and fermenting containers, and the rest of your materials so that upon purchasing your ingredients you will be ready to go.

Now a word of advice: make sure that you do not deviate too much from the homebrew beer recipes as if it is your fist attempt you need to learn the basics and build off of that. You will develop a set of skills that you will be able to deviate from later on as you start to experiment with the recipes. The best tip I can give you is to get a spiral notebook and keep accurate records and notes of what you do during every step along the process.

To get you started, I have included one of the beginner homebrew beer recipes below:

A Pale Ale using extract and whole grain methods:

  • 1.0 pound crushed crystal malt – I recommend Muntons brand
  • 1.0 pound crushed Pale Ale Malt
  • 6.0 pounds LME (Liquid Malt Extract) – I recommend Northwestern Gold Syrup
  • 2.0 pounds of gold DME (Dry Malt Extract)
  • ¾ ounce hops pellets – I recommend Galena Hops pellets)
  • 1 and ½ ounce English Kent Golding’s variety Hop Pellets
  • 1 pkg Whitbread Ale Yeast – Use the 1099 strain if possible

Begin with a filled grain bag (from your supply store) using the crushed grains listed and boil in 3.0 gallons of water. Once it reaches boiling go ahead and add the liquid extract and the DME. When it comes to a boil again add the Galena hops and boil for 25 min. Now add ¾ ounce of the Goldings hops (or half of your portion) and boil for 20 min. Finally add the remaining ¾ ounce of the Goldings hops for aroma. You will now want to cool in an ice bath and monitor the temperature until it reaches room temp, or about 72 degrees. Pour into a sanitized carboy and finally add 2 more gallons of cold water.

Remember to check with your supply store for explanations of these techniques.

Hopefully you will use this and start creating your very own homebrew beer recipes. Eventually you will be on your way to continued brewing success!

Homebrew Keg – An Introduction

If you are passionate about learning how to make beer at home, you will no doubt love the homebrew keg. It may take you a little time to get used to the new setup, but in time with familiarity, you will master the new techniques easily and will be enjoying your freshly tapped beer in no time at all. There are many reasons to add the homebrew keg to both your arsenal of brewing equipment and techniques. Below are some of the most popular amongst home brewers:

A time saver-no more sanitizing, filling and capping 50 or so Oz bottles.

Drink your brew faster-you no longer have to wait for natural carbonation. You will have the option to force carbonate using CO2. In addition you will have greater flexibility on carbonating different style beers at varying levels.

No more guessing-you have total control over how much carbonation is in your beer. No longer will you have a few highly carbonated bottles and a few flat ones.

Ultimately the main reason why many home brewers decide to move to the homebrew keg is because it makes your life so much simpler.

For those of you who may not know what a homebrew keg is, I wanted to share with you both a brief introduction and a little background information.

There are many types of kegs available on the market. First is the familiar half-barrel that is normally shipped to pubs all across the world. These half-barrels typically hold between 14 to 16 gallons (53-60 liters). The half-barrel empty weighs about 20-30 pounds and filled could weigh over 150 pounds. This keg is a beast to move alone and so not an ideal choice for the home brewer. Next down the size scale is the “pony keg” or quarter keg. These kegs can hold 5-7 gallons (19-26 liters). This size is much closer to what home brewers are looking for, but the “pony keg” doesn’t allow for easy access for both cleaning and filling.

Finally we have the Cornelius Keg or “soda keg” that is both universally accepted and sought after by the home brewing community. The Cornelius keg was originally made by the IMI Cornelius Company. The “Corney,” as it is most normally referred, was used by the soft drink industry for easy delivery. Today instead of using kegs the soft drink industry has transitioned to using the boxed version or bag-in-box (BIB.) The BIB contains condensed syrup that is later mixed with water on location. Due to this switch in delivery methods, Corny kegs are more readily available on the market. Big score for home brewers everywhere! In addition to the popular 5 gallon keg used by many home brewers, are other sizes available such as 3 and 10 gallon “Corney.” There are also two types of “Corney” kegs on the market. The difference between the two is in the connectors, but they both will function similarly. These homebrew kegs can easily be found at your local homebrew shop and with many online vendors.