Home brewing beginners’ guide

By | June 17, 2013

Homebrew beginners guide

Come on, let’s be honest; beer is plentiful, available at supermarkets, off-licences and pubs throughout the land. So why are so many people turning to homebrew kits?

It could well be that with the recession in full flow, people are looking to home brewing as a cost cutting measure. For a reasonable amount of start-up money, several litres of beer can be produced at a fraction of the cost of purchasing alcohol at a shop or bar. For example, the Coopers Beer Starter Kitcosts £67.99 and contains everything you need to make 23 litres of beer.

You might also like to try the Balliihoo Complete Homebrew Equipment Starter Kitwhich retails at £62.99

A lot of the appeal also comes from the challenge. There is something inherently more satisfying about enjoying a beer you’ve produced yourself. Some of the brews are more complex to make than others. As you learn from previous batches, you may become more ambitious as a home brewer. There is something to be said for presenting your latest batch of beer to friends.

Your imagination is the limit, and you can find your own unique blend somewhere amongst all the different ingredients available.

So, how do you get started?

Well, firstly you’ll need a kit.

Several stores including Wilko and Amazon offer a decent selection, including Woodforde’s Real Ale Kit.

Also, the aforementioned Coopers Beer Starter Kit is ideal for the novice. These kits give you everything you need to brew up your first batch, and learn by doing, so to speak.

If you want to gather together your own equipment, then here is a general list:
A container or keg of some sort to hold the beer.
An airlock
Length of plastic hose
Fermenter with capacity of several gallons at a minimum
A large bucket for bottling
Thermometer
Funnel and strainer
Gloves
Bowl
Saucepan
Spoon

If you shop around, you should be able to buy everything on this list for under £80.

Once you have your kit together, you need to decide on your ingredients.

If you have a starter kit, that should contain everything you need. If you’ve gathered your own kit, you will need to purchase your home brew ingredients.

Now follow these steps:

- Make sure your equipment is clean and germ free by washing thoroughly.

- Fill the keg with water and heat to around 75-80°F. Use the thermometer to monitor the temperature. Remove the water from the heat. Add the beer kit and the fermentable as directed on the packet. Stir thoroughly into the water with the spoon.

- Now, let the mixture cool to room temperature.

- Take the funnel and strainer and attach them to the top of the container you are using to ferment the beer. Pour the water /beer-kit/fermentable mixture through the funnel and strainer into the container. Be careful to make sure no bits get through the strainer. The water should be clear of floating bits once it has passed through the strainer.

- Now, pour the yeast into the fermenter and stir gently. This helps to oxygenate the mixture.

- Place the airlock over the fermenting container. Ensure the container is now airtight.

- Next, you should find somewhere to store the fermenting container whilst the process takes place. Ideally, you want somewhere cool and dark, where the temperature never rises. This helps the fermenting process to take place properly.

- Read the instructions that come with your beer kit, but if everything has been done correctly, the fermenting process takes between a week and ten days.

- To figure out if the process has been completed successfully, there are a few methods. A visual inspection of the beer in the fermenting container should be carried out. If the yeast has sank to the bottom and the liquid is clear looking, rather than cloudy, then the beer may be ready.

Also, if bubbles emit from the airlock at a low rate, say, less than one every minute, that would suggest you are ready to start bottling your new batch of beer.

- However, before you start bottling, a cup of sugar should be added to the beer, and mixed in. This process is known as priming. Ensure the tools you use to do this are again completely clean.

- Use the hose to siphon your beer into bottles. Don’t fill the bottles right to the top though. Leave a few centimetres of space to help the fermenting process. Cap the bottles.

- Whilst the beer may be drinkable in a few weeks, and many novice home brewers will want to dive in and sample their first brew immediately, it isn’t until eight to twelve weeks after the completion of the brewing process that the flavour reaches its peak.

- Once the beer is bottled, it can be stored in the fridge.

So, there you go. Follow this advice to get started. The world of home brewing awaits you. Enjoy!