Brew at Home

Homebrew for many, conjures up memories of warm, barely drinkable beer being brewed from a Kit (that only needed to have water added) and stowed in the airing cupboard, in an attempt to stimulate the yeast to work its magic and turn the sugar into Alcohol. Tales of exploding fermenting vessels were common place, however the craft has moved on a fair bit in the 30/40 years following.

It’s not a given that just because people love to drink beer, that they will inevitably be led down the path to homebrewing. However, for an increasing number of people that is indeed the case. Their motivations and inspirations may differ, but their curiosity generally starts with wanting to peer behind the curtain.

That certainly was the motivation for myself. I dipped my toe probably 12 years ago with a friend, making a few batches from Malt extract and adding the Dry hops and yeast at the end of the boil. Inadequacies in our brewing equipment, (a stock pot and a plastic fermenter), meant that we didn’t do everything by the book. A couple of fairly successful beers later, we started to get complacent, thinking we knew all about this brewing lark and started to play at being Willy Wonka. A festive beer was the next brew, with seasonal spices being the plan, what we got however was an undrinkable beer that wouldn’t be out of place in a charlatan doctor’s medicinal bag. A Hiatus then ensued.

A few years ago, with the stimulus to make beers that I would like to drink, saw me invest in a ‘Grainfather’, (all in one brewing system, hailing from New Zealand). This piece of brewery kit makes the brewing process a slick one, notwithstanding the need to sterilise and clean between brews. At its most basic, you can follow a recipe already tried and tested by the Grainfather brewing community, via the very handy App, which neatly communicates to the brew kit. At its most complex, it’s a scaled down brewery with unlimited possibilities.

All grain brewing is definitely where the fun and rewards come from. Sourcing the right malts and hops for your own curated recipe is fulfilling. Spending five hours brewing your chosen beer, isn’t a chore, especially if you make it a social occasion and brew with a buddy, where talk inevitably turns to ideas for future beers. Fermenting the beer is where you need to show patience and resist the temptation to take a peek. Introducing oxygen into a beer during this stage is likely to introduce off flavours and aromas and having somewhere that is temperature controlled, rather than leaving it to chance under the stairs, allows you to predict how the beer will turn out and repeat it, if it turns out to be a banger.

More recently, I upgraded my kit again, with a now 100Litre capacity (Oh, and I built a Brewery in the Garden). A recent trip to Brussels has inspired me to brew a Belgian Golden Ale and a Biere De Garde, which I will be able to enjoy the fruits of during the summer months.

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