Brewing Your First Batch
It seems daunting, and you may have a hundred questions and no one to ask them to, but making your first batch of beer is actually quite easy. Brewing beer happens quicker than you think! In only a few hours, with the right tools, and a homebrew kit, you can brew five to ten gallons of fine quality beer. Of course, you’ll have to wait about 30 days to drink it – this is the hard part for most of us!
Making the beer is easy – but without proper sanitation, you will find each of your following brews will fall more easily to contamination. After brewing beer, always scrub and then sterilize your brewing equipment with Iodine, bleach, of harder stuff. HomeBrewing.com is well stocked with cleaning supplies that work incredibly well. You will not have to deal with contaminating bacteria if you clean and sanitize all supplies, fermenting, and brewing areas well. It is a sinking feeling when you realize that you have been slacking on your cleanliness – and your beer reeks of a vinegar or other contamination.
I recommend visiting your local home brew store and asking their advice on a recipe for your first batch. They may recommend a pre-packaged homebrew beer kit of their own manufacture – I would go with this! The factory made pre-packaged (or beer bag) homebrew kits are not very good. But if the brew store folks are putting the effort into assembling homebrew beer kits, they are usually of good quality. Also, ask their advice on tools you will need, and cleaning products. If you continue to brew even a few batches, these tools will more than pay for themselves. Most homebrew staff are very helpful, and can give you advice on and even recipes for your favorite kind of beer. They will also recommend that you buy a few things that you don’t need, but you can forgive them for that.
Now if you decide to go with the factory made homebrew beer kit, there is very little effort involved. Basically, you boil some water and pour it into a bag, let it cool to room temp., and then add the yeast packet. Whether you use a beginner homebrew kit made by your local brews shop or a factory-produced model, the quality of your water is very important. Spring water makes the very best beer, but filtered tap water works as well – straight tap water works, but is not recommended for the best home brew.
All Homebrew beer kits come with instructions that are easy to follow. Depending on which kind of homebrew kit you acquire, you will need a different assortment of tools. I recommend the following tools on your first trip to the homebrew store: your choice of homebrew beer kit, a 5 or 6 gallon Carboy (glass jar), an airlock that fits the jar, 3 large reusable nylon mesh bags for your hops and malt, a bottle capper device, a pound of bottle caps, a pound of corn sugar for carbonating, a couple of cases of bottles (unless you plan to recycle and sanitize your old bottles, or use mason jars instead – they come in full pint sizes), a siphon hose 3-4 feet in length, Cleaning chemicals (concentrated Iodine solution is preferred) and a very long spoon for stirring your wort (as we call beer when it is cooking).
There are a couple of more items you will need to make your beer – a large kettle, preferably stainless steel, can be borrowed from one of your neighbors or acquired at a thrift store or yard sale. Scrubby pads for cleaning the kettle thoroughly are vital, if not steel wool. Now that you have all the tools, and the ingredients. It is time for brewing beer! Within one month, your beer will be ready to drink. If you throw a small to medium sized party, you should nearly drink half the beer. I recommend trying different varieties of homebrew kits with each additional batch you make, until you wind up with one you prefer over others.
Time to start brewing beer again before you run out!
Published: June 3, 2009
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