Looking Before You Leap into Home Brewing

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Whenever you start a major new hobby, its best to take a few minutes and think about what you are getting into. A lot of new hobbies require a significant investment of time and money. This is certainly true of golf, skydiving, scuba and home brewing. So along with a plan on how to get started, its good to have a good plan for getting ready to plunge into home brewing full scale. If you have a road map for “checking it out”, you can determine if home brewing will fit into your lifestyle and your budget.

“Looking before you leap” means that you find out what it means to be involved in the hobby or sport as a full time member of that hobby community. When it comes to home brewing, that will only happen when you too can make your own beer at home. And when that time finally gets here and you can play with the recipes and make the taste of your own beer very unique, that will be an exciting moment for you. But a mature approach to this very adult hobby means checking it out and knowing the investment of time, money and space in the home before you spend your first dollar to get set up as a home brewer.

An easy and fun way to ease into the hobby of home brewing that doesn’t cost a cent is to begin to network with those who are already well into their passion for making beer. You can find forums online to use to learn more about getting started. And there are almost certainly a number of home brewing societies and clubs in town that you can find out about online or through your local retail brewing supply store. These social connections will be people who are very much “evangelists” for home brewing because they know the fun of it. So you will get plenty of chances to sit in with a new friend to step through the brewing process and not only learn what equipment you will need but how it is used as you get training from an “old pro” in home beer making.

Once you have gotten some basic training the free route through home brewing gurus, the time will come when you are ready to consider buying your own equipment and taking a stab at it yourself. But you have already witnessed that home brewing is a big event in the house filling up the kitchen, the refrigerator, making a mess sometimes and requiring places to store, refrigerate and ferment the beer in the various stages from ingredients to finished product.

So it is important that the hobby of home brewing not just be your solitary passion but if at all possible you get the family into the act. If they can attend meetings at the home brewing club or go to competitions or other events that are all about home brewing, they can catch the same enthusiasm you have. That enthusiasm will be very important particularly in your significant other because each brewing session will be a major event in the house involving the kitchen with lots of pans and bottles and equipment. So having your wife or husband fully onboard with the process and even working on it together makes the fun of home brewing even more fulfilling.

Another area of looking before you leap is to plan out not only how you will use all of the equipment you will buy but how you will handle issues of storage. It’s a very pragmatic concern but if you bring in this arsenal of beer making equipment. Between batches it is going to have to be somewhere. And while you will enjoy that equipment a great deal, you don’t want it to dominate the home.

By getting a feel for the equipment when you are preparing to start your home brewing hobby, you can prepare a storage space for the equipment when it is not in use. Think ahead about storage for the fermentation phase of brewing as well as storing up to five gallons of beer per finished batch. But by thinking ahead, when you become a very active home brewer, you will have your family and facilities all ready for the changes. And that is looking before you leap into the exciting world of making and enjoying your own home made beer.

Making your own beer at home

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If you are someone that wants to try and make his or her own beer at home, now you can. It is not as hard as some people make it sound. It is actually a lot of fun to create and make great tasting beer that you can drink and be proud of. Many different brewing kits that you can buy from the store that will help you with the process every step of the way.

When you are going to brew your own beer at home, you are going to need the following. You will have to have a malt extract, water, and brewers yeast. The malt extracts can be liquid and they are usually in the form of syrup. Dry extracts can be stored longer than the liquid form. You can find that there are many different extracts to choose from. You may find that it is easier to order these things online so that you can get your brewing started faster.

One thing that people do not know is that making beer is using almost all water. It is best to use spring water even though some people get good results with tap water as well. Yeast is another big part of making beer. Yeast is what ferments the malts and the sugars into the alcohol. This is what will release the carbon dioxide.

You will see that there are many different ways to make beer. The only way to do it is to find the recipe that you like best. You will see that there are certain ones that take longer than others and ones that will take no time at all. Figure out which one sounds better to you and then you will have a better idea of the entire process of making great beer.

It is important to be careful and sanitary. You need to make sure that all the equipment that you use is sterile. This is very important because you do not want to take any chances on the beer becoming tainted and someone getting sick from your invention.

Making your own beer is a great way to explore the creativity that you can do. It is something that you will only get better at over time and all of your pals and buddies will enjoy the fact that you can make them good tasting beer. That is something that you can be proud of.

Making Your Beer Crystal Clear

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Beer is about a lot more than just a great tasting beverage. The fact that a culture has grown up around the joy of making and enjoying fine beer testifies how much beer has become part of how our culture works. The drinking of the beverage is only partially about the taste of the brew itself and very much about where you have your beer, what you drink it out of, how the beer looks in the glass and who you are drinking it with. And while you as a home made beer brewer cannot control many of those factors, you can control the quality and ambiance of the beer you make so it not only tastes great but is visually appealing as well.

If you pour a commercial beer from a bottle or a can, you may not be aware of how much those beer makers put into not just the taste but the affect of other senses have on the beer drinking experience. The way the beer pours, the aroma as you pour it, the head that wells up in your mug and how the beer looks in the glass all are just as important as the taste itself. The emphasis the big beer producers put on ascetics is so extreme that they even make the sound the can makes when you “pop a cold one” to be unique because they know that sound alone can prepare you to receive the taste of a great beer drinking experience.

The truth is none of that will change whether the beer itself is of high quality or is good to drink. But visual appeal matters. One area of visual appeal that you have some control over when making your own beer at home is clarity. Clarity simply refers to how the beer looks in the glass. If you can see through the beer and it is a consistent beige or amber color, that is visually appealing. But if things are floating around in the beer, even if they are perfectly harmless byproducts of the brewing process, that can diminish how inviting your beer is to enjoy and even diminish how enjoyable the beer is to drink even if the beer itself is of high quality.

A lot of the “stuff” that floats around is beer comes from the yeast that is crucial to the fermentation process that makes beer beer. Some yeasts are better than others about settling out of the beer during fermentation. Another source of visible material in the beer comes from what is referred to as non-microbiological particles or NMPs which are a byproduct of the brewing process. Again, none of these visible materials are harmful to consume nor do they reduce the value of the beer. They just look bad and hurt the clarity of the beer which is one way beer is measured for quality.

Many of the NMPs are introduced during the initial creation of the wort which is phase one of any brewing operation. The wort is boiled at a high temperature for a significant enough period of time to cause the proteins in the ingredients to break down and become part of the fluidity of the wort rather than remain in a substance state or a “floc” which remains visible in the finished product. To avoid this make sure your boil sustains a temperature of 215F for 90 minutes to assure complete processing of the proteins.

Another important brewing step that you can do to reduce visible agents in your beer is to cool the wort very quickly. By bringing the temperature down rapidly, the clarity is vastly enhanced as is the flavor and overall quality of the beer. The best way to accomplish such rapid cooling is to move the wort quickly from the brewing process to a very cool environment or using a specialized wort cooler to quickly bring that temperature down and eliminate many of the flocs that might be there if the cooling goes more slowly.

Seeking beer clarity can become a major passion of yours as a home brewer and there is a whole science to using clarifying agents such as Irish Moss to enhance beer clarity without diminishing beer quality or taste. Learning good techniques for making your beer clear and appealing is just another step in your ongoing quest to become the best amateur beer making possible. And that is a quest worth pursuing.

The Heart of Home Brewing

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Can you remember the moment you first got the idea in your head to take up brewing your own beer at home? For many it is a tour of a brew pub or some other behind the scenes exposure to all that happens when good beer is made. Before that one pivotal moment, you may have never even thought about beer being made at all. The origin of beer was the liquor store or the market and that was that. But when you realized that not only does beer go through a fascinating transformation from grains, hops and malts to this delicious brew you enjoy but that you can make your own beer if you want to, that is when the idea of becoming a home brewer started to become a reality in your mind.

For others that moment of realization that home brewing could be a whole new world may have happened when you first were exposed to “real” beer, as the home brewing enthusiasts call it. That is when you sampled a brew that was not made by one of the big retail beer makers like Budweiser, Coors or Miller and you discovered what beer tasted like when it came directly from the brewing process to your glass. That may also be the day you found out what an amazing diversity of beer types, textures and flavors there were. And for many when you realize that you can find a diversity of beers that is almost as extensive as in the wine world that it is often very difficult to go back to boring old pasteurized beer again.

So if you are about to “make the leap” to become a home brewer yourself, you are about to step into a rich and full world that is full of history, culture, tradition and new friends and associates. You won’t just take up the hobby of brewing beer, you will “become” a home brewer which is a unique kind of individual indeed.

It isn’t hard to “define” home brewing because the term is self explanatory except to go on to say that it is entirely possible for you to make high quality beer right in your own home with a small investment in equipment, the base ingredients that are readily available as well and the love and patience it will take to learn the process. But the process is not difficult which explains why home brewing is a passion and a hobby that is growing in popularity more and more every year. You might be surprised who you know who has a love of brewing beer because it is not just the hard core beer drinker you might know. Because brewing beer at home is as much about the art and the craft of making a quality beverage, home brewers come from every walk of life there is from bartenders to ministers and from college professors to librarians.

The heart of home brewing is the fun, the excitement and the fulfillment creating your own batch of delicious beer can bring. But what transforms home brewing hobbyists to life long makers of beer is the challenge of always finding new blends, new methods and new ways to make their beer even more flavorful than the last batch.

Be forewarned that a zeal for becoming better and better at home brewing can be habit forming. But if you get hooked, you will meet thousands of others in your town and around the country and the world who have the same addiction as you. It’s a wonderful addiction that you will never regret catching because brewing beer at home can provide decades of fun and enjoyment making your own blends of beer. But it provides something else just as good which is really great tasting beer. So enjoy.

What Beer Making Gurus Know

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The great thing about brewing your own beer is that you can be good at it starting out and get great at it over time. You can make each and every batch tasty and enjoyable but at the same time always be driven to make a better brew. Part of the function of home brewing contests and being part of your local brewers club is that you get those tips and learn from the old pros at brewing so month by month and year by year, your beer gets better and better.

One important thing that the real beer gurus know is what great chefs know and that is the quality of beer comes down to the freshness of the ingredients you use. One area you can improve on freshness is with the yeast you use for fermentation. A dry yeast is simply not as fresh as liquid yeast so that is where one small change can dramatically affect the freshness of your beer. Use this same approach with the grains, the hops and all the perishable ingredients that you need for a quality home brewed batch of beer.

But just as even if you buy fresh flour for bread, you freeze it to delay it getting stale and use proper refrigeration for all of your brewing ingredients. First of all, only buy the ingredients when the day you are going to brew is very near. And use as much as you can up in one batch. You will get a natural instinct for how much of each ingredient you need for a single run of brewing and eventually get to where you can buy enough, use it up the next day with little or no left over and in that way always be brewing with absolutely fresh ingredients. But even then, make some room in your freezer and refrigerator to slow down the aging of the things that make up your beer. Grains and yeast can go in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer for a short time. Use your ingrediants up quickly. Don’t stock pile.

Temperature control is a central issue with all home brewing gurus who seek absolute control over the quality of their product. That first step of brewing which is the boiling of the grains and hops to make up the “wort” is a heat intensive operation. But once the time of your boiling phase is done, bring the temperature of the wort down very quickly. By dropping the temperature from boiling to cooler temperature at a very fast pace, you will reduce the contaminations in your beer and your final product will have a vastly better clarity which is a sign of a great beer. This is one little trick of the trade that may take some effort and maybe even specialized equipment like an immersion chiller for your wort but it will be worth it in the quality of beer that results.

Keeping the temperature of your finished beer constantly under control during fermentation is also a central issue with beer making gurus to make sure their beer is of the highest quality. If you are a devoted home brewer and want to buy a refrigerator just to devote to fermentation, that would be the best situation because you could carefully control the temperature.

But there are other methods many home brewers use to assure their fermenting beer says at a steady temperature. You can select the best spot in the house where the beer will remain relatively cool all day. Then wrap the fermenter up using wet towels and then put a fan on the wrapped beer. This uses the humidity of the water and the coolness that comes from the fan to keep the beer in the best possible environment to create truly great tasting beer.