Almost every brewer working today started their profession in their own kitchen. It’s called Homebrewing, and it has allowed a new industry to form which is taking on the mega-brewers and, in most cases, winning the war for a Craft Beer Revolution!
Daunting as it might seem, with as little as $100, a stash of recycled empties and a trip to the local homebrew store, anyone can make their first batch of beer, which is often superior to the store-bought beer that first occupied those bottles. Furthermore, after the initial upfront equipment purchase, homebrewing is often less expensive than purchasing beer.
Day one is making a trip to the local homebrew store. Go with an idea of what type of beer you want to make, as you will have 50 bottles of it when you’re done. The most popular first brews are Ales, as they are fermented at room temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. This style includes Porters, Stouts, Ambers, Reds, Pales and IPAs, to name a few. (Lagers which are cold fermented, require rigid cold temperature control, so are not friendly to the novice.)
The first-timer’s equipment needs to include a fermenter bucket, airlock, capper, caps, sanitizer, and a bottle filling syphon. With those empty bottles you’ve collected and a big
4–5-gallon pot you have the materials needed to succeed. Ingredients will either come in a pre-packaged box or put together separately from a recipe. Malt grains make a flavoring tea, into which malt extract sugar is then stirred as fuel for the fermentation. Finally, hops are added during a 60-minute boil. The hops are the bittering, flavoring and aroma plant which help balance a beer. When this tea is done boiling (now called a Wort) it is cooled in an ice-bath in the sink. It's then combined with cold water in the fermenter bucket, and yeast is added as the living organism which then consumes the malt sugar, multiplies exponentially, pisses out alcohol and farts out CO2 gas! An air-tight sealed lid and air-lock vent allow C02 gas out but keep bacteria away. Everything that touches the wort must be clean and sanitized, as those pesky bacteria can attack our beer and turn it sour. Ten to 14 days later, you will syphon the beer into sanitized bottles. Carbonation occurs in the individual bottles with a precise addition of priming sugar over the next two weeks (for a total of4 weeks’ time). Fermented free of contamination, and within the right temperature range, your beer will be fresh and flavorful!
Homebrewers are patient hobbyists, dedicated to the careful preparation of their desired quality beer. Not for the lazy or impatient, homebrewing is one of the most rewarding pastimes I can think of. It combines the tasty finish of a job well done with the very satisfying savings over purchasing more expensive store-bought beers!
Vegas Homebrew & Winemaking
5140 W Charleston Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89146
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