Wednesday, 28 November 2012

[HOMEBREWING] DIY Beer - First Steps

If you haven't considered homebrewing before, why not?

In a scenario that might sound embarrassingly familiar, I distinctly remember being blown away by my first pint of Guinness about six years ago. It was around that time that I began to realise beer could be appreciated more so for its character and flavour, than its inherent ability to get you swozzled. Curiosity naturally blossomed to fully fledged interest, and now I am an obsessive beer brewer, blogger, drinker, thinker. Just as watching the Olympics on TV this summer may have had you scrambling around your local sports shop for ping pong balls or running shoes, contracting beerphilia often results in the infected yearning for the hands-on; to no longer simply be a spectator. Homebrewing: the beery Mecca for the armchair beer pundit.

It would be impossible to adequately describe the captivation that homebrewing gives; whether it be the determination to improve, derived from a flawed batch, or the pure jubilation of a gamble succeeding. Things will never run smoothly, but this should not deter anyone from a truly engrossing and ultimately rewarding hobby. To embrace this logical step yourself simply takes planning and willingness. Your first leap into the unknown should be to buy a rough guide (my recommendation - Charlie Papazian's The Complete Joy of Homebrewing - £6 on Amazon) and get researching. If by this point it all seems like too big a commitment, then you've only gained a great book. To carry on, you need to start planning your set up, and buying your equipment.

One major choice to make first of all, is whether to brew beers from kits, from malt extract, or to do all grain brews. Personally, I would recommend ruling out the first choice, since kits have a tendency to give a boring end product, and the whole process is so simplified to the point of sucking all the fun out. My advice would be to start with extract beer (the hard bit done for you), with a view to progressing very soon to an all grain process. It's only with all grain brewing where you are truly the master of your own beer's destiny.

This blog will never contain information to be considered a fully fledged homebrewing guide, there are countless books and internet resources that will do that job in the utmost detail. What is important to take into account, is that homebrewing should be taken on by all those able and willing. It can be done cheaply (my first equipment setup cost me roughly £40 in all), and is an important cornerstone of British commercial brewing; I would wager every commercial brewer in the UK started off in his or her kitchen at home. Maybe consider reading this another voice in your ear, telling you to take the plunge into homebrewing.

There will be more to come on this subject, maybe some little snippets of wisdom, if I'm lucky.