I do believe that the American right to brew your own beer at home is quite an amazing right to have for all of us. Better than having this right is actually practicing it! Are you nervous to start? I was at the beginning too, but with practice you may brew some amazing beers of your own.
So where do you start? What do you brew first? The beer ideas can be classic or innovative. The only bad idea is not having an idea at all! The simple answer is that you will need to do a tiny bit of research to get started. The very small home-brew systems (one or two gallons) have advantages in upfront cost. The average set up for most home brewers is five gallons. I would recommend this size because it is about the same amount of work as the smaller system except with a far greater yield.
The five gallon home brewing set up can be very inexpensive to start. As with all of the things in this world, you get what you pay for. If you buy cheap ingredients then you will end up with a less than amazing final product. However, the ingredients available at your local “home-brew shop” now will have amazing ingredients at your disposal. Fresh yeast, fresh hops, fresh crack grain, and they even have water purification. It’s really a one stop shop if you are interested in discovering a new hobby. You may have many more friends all of a sudden so don’t be surprised.
There are three main types of home brewing. The different types are extract, partial mash, and all grain.
Extract brewing is the least used type of all listed above. This is because no type of real malted barley ends up in the final product. The grain extract is made from malted barley but does not give any of the freshness or proper maltiness to the final product in my opinion. You will only need one boiling pot to accomplish this brew!
Partial mash is the most commonly used method for home brewing because the quality increases from the full extract brew and it does not require extra vessels like the all grain brewing. This is a happy medium and you have the ability to create some great beers this way.
All grain home brewing is my favorite of the three and the one that i used all the way ten years ago when I first started brewing. It does require a HLT (Hot Liqour Tank) and a mash tun to use this method. It is my preferred method due to the fact that I am able to control specific temperatures of the mash that extract or partial mash just can’t match. It does require a little more upfront cost so i would only go this route if you are going to be fairly serious about creating some fantastic brews.
The main thing to remember about home brewing is…..HAVE FUN!! Make sure to do it with friends so everyone can share the experience together. It’s a great opportunity to share a beer and discuss future ideas for new brews together. I would recommend waiting to have the majority of your pints after the home brewing is complete.
It all starts with the first batch. Just be very careful to clean everything well. And then make sure to clean, sanitize, clean, and sanitize. A world class beer can be ruined with a little bacteria or oxygen exposure.
They are many great home brewing references that will give you step by step instructions. The advisors at your local home brew shops will be more than happy to answer any questions that you have as well.
Ten years later you may be a blogging head brewer like me. Cheers you sassy sippers! And happy brewing.