Craft your own beer
Brewing beer in smaller quantities than commercially produced beer is a growing industry. When making what is known as craft or speciality beer, brewers experiment with a range of flavours that give beer drinkers many more options. Making your own beer looks quite complicated when you first look into it, but we found that with a little help it was a very enjoyable experience, and the beer tastes great. We asked Brad and Scott from Beer Bros. how to go about making our first batch of beer and they rushed to our assistance. They suggested we start with a ‘Brew in a Box’ for our first attempt. There are various kits available that include all the equipment and products needed to make a batch of beer, which means that there is very little outlay for first timers, and you can add to your inventory as you experiment further. All the instructions come in the box, so here we summarised our brewing day.
The blonde ale recipe kit contains everything you need to make 20 litres of blonde ale with a twist – a very good aroma. Partial mash brewing is best suited to the brewer who is starting out and does not yet have the necessary brewing equipment needed to do the all-grain process. The biggest advantage of partial mash brewing is the ability to brew in the comfort of your kitchen, and without investing in expensive equipment. Brewing using the partial mash method is a great way to get acquainted with the processes involved in all grain brewing.
There are basically four ingredients needed in order to brew beer:
Barley – a grain that has been malted by roasting to various temperatures, much like coffee beans are. The darker roasts would be used for a stout (like Guinness) and the lighter roasts for paler ales and lagers.
Hops – grown on vines and used to add the bitterness in beer, as well as for aroma. Hops also helps to preserve the beer. The hops can be added at different times at the boiling stage to create different flavours. Hops is often made into hops pellets, where the fresh hops are ground up and condensed into pellets to make them easier to transport and to give them a longer shelf life.
Yeast – comes in dried or liquid form. Brewer’s yeast is added to the mix to ferment the beer, and there are various types of yeast that are used for specific types of beer. Dried yeast can be rehydrated for use, or it can be added dried, depending on the recipe you choose.
Water – it’s important to use clean water without chemicals such as chlorine. Use purified water, not distilled water.
There are some basics that need to be remembered when brewing at home:
- Start off simply. Once you get the hang of the brewing process, you can experiment and try different types and flavours.
- Get organised. Unpack all of the equipment needed according to the recipe you choose, and read through the instructions so steps are not missed or done out of order. It takes about three hours to make a batch, so make sure you have the time.
- Sanitise everything. This is very important after the boiling stage to avoid impurities and bacteria from destroying the beer.
- Keep fermenting temperatures stable. Fluctuating temperatures may stop the yeast from working and will affect the flavour of the beer.
- Buy a brewing book.
A mash is made by mixing heated water and grains, and keeping it at a constant temperature for an hour.
Sparge is the process of pouring hot water over the opened grain bag to rinse the grain through into the pot.
The resulting malt water after sparging is the wort, which will become your beer
4. The boil
The wort needs to be heated for 60 minutes, with the addition of dry malt extract, and hops added at various times throughout the 60 minutes. These will vary according to your recipe.
Cool the wort as quickly as possible in an ice bath and pour into the fermenter. Pitching the yeast is a brewing term that simply means adding the yeast so that the fermentation process can begin.
Store it in a cool, dry area out of direct sunlight.
After two weeks of total fermentation, you can then bottle.
Sanitise any equipment, including the syphon and tubing, bottles and bottle caps, before bottling. A priming sugar needs to be added at the bottling stage that will carbonate the beer. The recipe or packaging will tell you how to prepare this mixture before adding to the beer. Then it’s simply a matter of bottling the beer using the syphon and tubing, and capping for storage to condition for 1-2 weeks. Once the beer is carbonated it can be transferred to the fridge to cool
Wait another two weeks (or better yet, four weeks) and then start drinking. The longer you leave it bottled the better the beer will taste.