My Home Brewing Experiences

Home Brewing

Welcome to my Home Brewing Web Page.  I hope you can learn from my home brewing experiences and not make the mistakes I did.  Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments.

What initially interested me in Home Brewing my own beer?

I’ve always like the taste of beer.  It started well before I was legal but that would be a whole different story.  Initially all I liked to drink was domestics.  Later when I started college I started to branch out into micro beers.  Mostly lagers and reds.  I hadn’t developed a palette for IPA or anything real hoppy or bitter.

Later in life I had switched back to domestics and drank primarily only pilsners.  My taste in beer had completely collapsed and I became a random boring beer drinker, drinking the same stuff day after day. 

Then one day I went to a brewing store.  I was amazed by all the different stuff that was available for home brewing.  The selection of equipment and types was overwhelming.  The reason for me being there was I was getting a kit for brewing wine for my mom’s birthday.  She had mentioned she was sort of interested and I had a great uncle who had made his own dandelion wine back in the 30’s.  Another little tidbit is my family ran booze during prohibition so it’s sort of a family tradition. 

What initially interested me in Home Brewing my own beer?

I’ve always like the taste of beer.  It started well before I was legal but that would be a whole different story.  Initially all I liked to drink was domestics.  Later when I started college I started to branch out into micro beers.  Mostly lagers and reds.  I hadn’t developed a palette for IPA or anything real hoppy or bitter.

Later in life I had switched back to domestics and drank primarily only pilsners.  My taste in beer had completely collapsed and I became a random boring beer drinker, drinking the same stuff day after day. 

Then one day I went to a brewing store.  I was amazed by all the different stuff that was available for home brewing.  The selection of equipment and types was overwhelming.  The reason for me being there was I was getting a kit for brewing wine for my mom’s birthday.  She had mentioned she was sort of interested and I had a great uncle who had made his own dandelion wine back in the 30’s.  Another little tidbit is my family ran booze during prohibition so it’s sort of a family tradition. 

When my mother finished making her first batch of wine she was no longer interested in the process.  It was a fun experiment but she would rather buy someone else’s hard work.  I hate to take my mom’s birthday present but it wasn’t being used and I figured I would give it a try.

I bought my first kit and had big plans to start.  A year went buy and I still had the initial brew kit and a batch of beer that was only collecting dust in the corner.  Eventually I brewed it and it was horrid.  I still have some to this day and I can’t bring myself to drink it.  Thankfully this did not stop me from trying again.  This time I went with an Irish Red.  It turned out very well and I have been hooked ever since.  Keep reading to see how I feel about the different equipment and processes I have learned over the years. 

Starter Kits

As you read before I started with an all in one kit.  It has everything you need to brew except one major thing.  No pot.  The thing that held me up the most was the cost of a pot.  Compared to a carboy or the other minor stuff you need that is a huge expense.  Especially if you’re going to get something large enough to do a full 5 gallons at a time or even more if you’re trying to do a 10 gal batch.  The kits are nice but I would suggest looking online for someone that is selling their stuff, try to find someone who is also selling their large brewing pot.  I bought all new stuff but the used is just as good.  Use the extra money to buy another carboy or maybe a few more recipe kits.

Cleaning  

After you’ve gotten your initial equipment get ready to clean, clean, and clean some more.  From experience I can tell you this is my most hated part.  I’m so nervous that I’m going to contaminate my brew or mess something up that I get nervous washing a giant pot.  Silly I know but there it is.  You will spend a good part of your brewing day cleaning all your equipment.  This is a necessary chore if you want a nice tasting brew.  Anything residually left on your equipment will be enhanced after weeks of fermenting and be an added flavor to your favorite home brew.

Brewing your Home Brew

The day has come, you have all your equipment you picked up a premade recipe or maybe ventured into creating your own.  If you’ve created your own your more adventurous than I am.  Now it’s time to put it all together.  So you get your pot out.  Start to fill it and now wonder, do I need to worry about fluoride in the water.  Is tap good enough or should I use bottled.  Maybe that is just me but after filling it lets get it boiling. 

Now I currently use premade recipe kits so I just follow the instructions included.  I’ve brewed maybe 15 different batches but I still use kits.  Soon I am planning on moving up to all grain brewing but haven’t taken that step yet. 

After bringing the water to the appropriate temperature I start to add my malt and anything else it calls for.  Set my timer and watch it cook.  Waiting for that exciting time when I need to add my final ingredients. 

After about an hour it’s time to cut the heat and get my carboys ready.  Another round of sterilization and its fill the giant 6 gallon bottle.  My home brew has taking its first step to become drinkable, enjoyable beer.  Add the yeast, shake it all up and put the plug in. 

Fermentation

Now it the wait time.  Checking every day to see the bubbles flow as the yeast eats all the delicious sugar and discard the alcohol.  Its fun watching the co2 bubble out the top of my fermenter.  When I first brewed beer I thought this stage made it beer look nasty, all the residue from the yeast and the bubbling murky wort I found rather disturbing.  After the first batch and you get to drink the final product my perception changed.  Now I love this stage.  The yeast hard at work making my home brew into delicious beer.  After a couple weeks the bubbling stops and it’s time to move it from fermentation to a new 5 gal bottle to mature.  This can take anywhere from 3-6 weeks depending and the longer the smoother it will become. 

Bottling Day

There isn’t much I can say about home brewing and bottling.  I did it once.  I liked the process of brewing and immediately moved to kegs.  So much easier working with kegs than gathering bottles, cleaning them, and then bottling.  It was a pain and I didn’t care for it so I bought a keg system and a couple kegs.  The wife was ok with this because she hated having all the bottles around.  Its so much easier, clean the keg, fill the keg, attach the co2, let sit a week or so and pour.  The amount of time you save quickly covers the additional cost.  Move onto kegs as soon as possible.  I started with bottles and only did one run with them.  The hard part is finding a refrigerator that will hold the keg and co2 bottle.  I used an old side by side fridge and took all the shelves out to hold my keg

Take away

This has been my basic experience in venturing into home brewing.  You can spend as little as you want or as much but it is a great hobby.  One that if you get good at it actually is cheaper than what you can pay in the store.  I haven’t saved money yet but I keep expanding my setup.  Hope this helped and happy brewing. 

 

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