While some people believe that beer can only be produced by a brewing company, or that it magically appears in icy mountain streams just like they saw “in that commercial”, the reality is you can make beer at home! No, you don’t need to have a massive mansion that can fit tons of machinery, and you don’t need thousands of dollars to buy the equipment. You also don’t need to attend university for a decade to get your Ph.D. in “brew mastery”, although that could be fun, depending on the curriculum of course.
Whether they live far removed from civilization and are tired of driving for days to get beer, or they’re booze aficionados who want to learn everything about it, many people have decided to brew their own suds. In fact, there are thousands of people right now who are in the process of making their own beer. While there is some work involved―which might make it a non-starter for some―brewing your own beer is, in fact, relatively simple.
Now are you really wondering how to start a home brew? Read on.
Benefits of Brewing Your Own Beer
Of course, critics ask why you would bother to spend time making beer at home when you can run, or waddle, down to the corner store and pick some up. However, if you don’t live close to an establishment that sells nice, cold beer, then making your own could be the way to go.
Or what if you’re a bit of an “expert” and you can’t stand the bland liquid they’re passing off as beer at the local pub? Then you may be interested in making a more flavorful brew. Depending on where you live, you may not have access to various types of beers and could very well be stuck with just lager A, B, or C.
Another reason some people elect to make their own beers is because that way they can control what goes in it. If you’re not big on ingesting preservatives, then home brewing is a good way to guarantee this.
You May Save Money
If you enjoy having a few beers after work or with dinner, and then a few dozen more over the weekend, then you may have noticed that your bank account takes a serious hit from all that drinking. It’s not surprising then that some people turn to brewing their own suds with the hopes it will save them some cash.
Depending on where you’re shopping, and what equipment and supplies you end up buying, your first five-gallon batch of beer will probably cost you over $100. Remember though, unless you trash your equipment in some alcohol-related incident, you don’t need to buy a starter kit every time, just certain supplies. As a result, making your own beer over the long haul could end up saving you a nice chunk of change, but don’t expect to buy a new Ferrari with the savings.
What You Need
First and foremost, you’re going to need a brewing guide to walk you through the steps. While making beer isn’t rocket science, if you’re going to spend the time and money on making your own, you might as well try to do it right the first time. You may also be able to sign up for a class at a local beer supply store or community center.
Next, you’ll need a starter kit, which comes with all the basic equipment and supplies you’ll need for a first batch. If you’re hoping to start up your own micro-brewery, however, this probably isn’t what you’re looking for.
The price of a starter kit get-started can vary, but in order to get a half-decent one, you’ll likely spend from $75 to more than $100. Some of the equipment that typically comes with a starter kit includes a fermentation bucket, bottling bucket, thermometer, hydrometer, syphoning package, and a bottle capper. If the set you’re looking at doesn’t come with bottles or bottle caps, then don’t forget to pick some up. That’s kind of important.
Of course, you also need ingredients like malted barley, hops, and yeast to actually make the beer. There are also recipe kits that you can buy, which come with the specific ingredients and recipes you need to make the delicious brew.
Don’t forget that you’re probably going to want your beer cold, so if you don’t have extra space in your refrigerator to chill a case or two of bottled beer, you may need to invest in another fridge just for the brewskis.
Plan Your Time
The one problem with starting your home brew is that you can’t bring it home, whip up some beer, and serve it to your pals that same night. Well, technically you could, but not if you still want those people to be your friends afterwards.
Brewing the beer will probably take a couple of hours and then you’ll need to ferment it for a couple of weeks or more, depending on what kind you’re making. Once it’s ready, the (hopefully) delicious-tasting beer will need to be bottled, and then “bottle conditioned” for a couple more weeks. Then it’s party time.