Wednesday, December 11, 2013

From water to beer: a homebrewing guide

Many of the modern luxuries we experience on a daily basis were developed with a sole purpose in mind: convenience. The television brought movies home, the treadmill brought running indoors; so why not beer?

Home brewing can be a fun and fulfilling hobby that is delicious to enjoy. Although it may seem like a complex science made only possible with equipment and ingredients on a large scale, most of the beers featured in bars and big time breweries can be made at home in smaller, 5-gallon batches.

“My parents bought me a home brew kit when I was young…I made browns, some lagers, lots of ambers,” said Community Beer Works founder Greg Tanski, a 15-year homebrewing veteran.
A batch of beer wort fermenting, photo courtesy of Seth Rios
Since becoming federally legalized in 1978, homebrewing has become the leading method for amateur beer lovers to create fresh, personally-made brews. It also allows homebrewers a chance to experiment with flavors and apply their own outside knowledge to brew a blend pleasing to their palate.
“My best friend bought me my first kit as a wedding present,” said Seth Rios, a chemical engineer graduate from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with more than three years of homebrewing experience. “His reasoning was that I’m a chemical engineer, and this is engineering.”
Homebrewing is a relatively easy hobby to enjoy. To get going, many experienced brewers recommend buying a kit. These start at around $80 and include all of the necessary equipment and ingredients to brew beer at home.
“It’s probably the easiest way to go,” said Tanksi. "Start off with the malt extracts, like most people start off with. Moving into full grain allows you to experiment more."
Each batch of beer will cost about $25 to $45 in ingredients per 5 gallons, depending on the style being brewed. When finished, this will typically yield about 48 bottles of 12-ounce beers.

Rios warns that mistakes are bound to happen.

“I was brewing a bourbon vanilla stout when the fermentation lock blew off while it was fermenting,” said Rios. “This introduced bacteria into the brew, which skunked it. What made it worse was that the wort (the beer liquid before fermentation) tasted awesome and it would have been a great batch.”
Throwing away 16 hours of work and over four 4 weeks of patience may be tough to overcome, but experienced brewers recommend to avoid focusing just on the end product.
“You have to like the process of it, not just the beer,” said Rios.
As long as you have the patience, a love of beer and the determination, homebrewing can be a unique experience that yields a delicious result.
"Read up online or any of the books out there about it," said Tanski. "Learn to be a tinkerer, build your own brewing kit, join a local group; everyone's out there to help each other."

No comments:

Post a Comment