Confessions of a Home Brewer
Story by Matt Young. Photo by Hal Goodtree.
Cary, N.C. – I made my first home brew from a “Mr. Beer Kit” my wife bought me for Christmas 5 or 6 years ago. I looked at the box and said,”What? YOU CAN DO THAT?” Admittedly, I made and bottled about 6 different beers all in the span of 6 weeks and began to read everything I could get my hands on.
I went to American Brewmaster every week and asked Mark a hundred questions in every visit. Eventually, I was bringing them samples to judge for me.
I hung around on internet brewing forums (I’d recommend NorthernBrewer.com), first as a “lurker” and eventually as an expert. A year after that first kit, I had hops growing in my yard and a garage with a home made mash tun, carboys, tubing, sacks of malted barley and, well, you get the idea. (I use the old Mr. Beer equipment to make vinegar, and have branched out to wine and cheese but that’s another CaryCitizen article).
More Than Just Suds
The whole beer thing amazed me. Beer has influenced history, styles are based on culture and the surrounding environment, it’s science, it’s engineering, it’s marketing.
I’ve learned how to make basic pale ales, and how to make a lager the right way, I’ve made kolsch’s and brown beers and rye beers and have even made beer with grits. My real love is the IPAs. I am a confirmed hophead.
As an aside I do NOT believe fruit belongs in beer. Fruit belongs in wine. If you think fruit belongs in beer, maybe you don’t like beer. It’s like putting hazelnut cream in your coffee – maybe you don’t like coffee. But I digress.
Basic Beer Recipe
Here’s the basic process (there are many permutations):
- Ten or more pounds of malted barley are “mashed” (soaked) in 150 degree water for an hour.
- Dextrine malts and other things can be added to aid in better “mouthfeel” or “head retention” in the final product but are optional.
- About 7 gallons of the runoff liquid is boiled hard for an hour.
- Hops (1 to 5 ounces) are added at intervals.
- The resulting wort (pronounced “wert”) is cooled to under 70 degrees and put in a glass carboy with yeast.
- Wait 3 weeks.
- Bottle or put in a kegging system.
- Amaze your friends and thrill your palate.
Got any homesteading-type hobbies? Want to share with us (we may even publish it!)? Want to ask any questions about homebrewing? Contact me!
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Thom – cool.
I’ve got a secret (well maybe not so secret) way to sanitize without the bleach. Star San in a spray bottle…no rinse!
I’ve made about 18 beer batches in as many years, all have been good to great, no contamination (but I bleach all equipment well). It is fun, I highly recommend! I also make bread using a bread-making machine, another swEet usage of yeast… I made a ginger beer, a spruce beer… and I’m fine with the occasional fruit beer ;-)