This was my first batch of homebrew. It all began when my father-in-law sent his old brewing setup home with my wife. Specifically, two 5-gallon carboys, a hydrometer/thermometer, a capper, an old auto-syphon, a drain hose and a book. Last Saturday I was cleaning out my shed and finally had some time to look at the brewing supplies. When I saw this book I thumbed through the first few pages. After reading the preface I knew that I would brew beer.
The book started off by digging into the heart of beer and homebrewing. The author of the preface painted a beautiful picture that grabbed my attention. The book itself, the part I’ve read, is very approachable. Papazian starts at the beginning and does a great job of making you feel like you can brew beer. He describes, in detail, exactly what you need, what you should do and when you should do it (but you don’t feel overwhelmed). As a bonus he also dives into the history of beer which was quite fascinating.
I later learned this book is the first recommendation to would-be home brewers. I’m not surprised. If you are thinking about brewing beer than you should start here.
While reading this book, I listened to podcasts and watched YouTube videos about homebrewing. I found a high quality podcast called Beer Smith. Brad Smith is the host and he interviews people in the industry who provide good insight into brewing. What I really appreciate is that Brad always brings it back to the home brewer and small-scale brewing.
I have a job that allows me to listen to music for parts of the day. However, instead of just music I listen to podcasts with Player FM. This app manages and finds podcasts. It’s one of the best apps of its kind (it is the best that I’ve used). Even if you don’t want to homebrew you could use Player FM to learn almost anything that you’re interested in.
I started reading the book and listening to the podcast on Saturday. It didn’t take long to understand that brewing beer could be really simple (you can make it really complicated too). On Tuesday I visited the brew shop and rounded out my equipment list for about $60. I picked up sanitizer, carboy stoppers (plugs), a funnel, fermentation airlocks, a 6-gallon bucket for sanitizing (not totally necessary but helpful), a funnel, bottle caps and a carboy brush. Wednesday I picked up a plastic brew spoon and a 22oz bottle of Barley Wine Ale by Deschutes Brewery (you can’t brew without beer :)
The only other item I needed was the brew kettle (a 4 to 5 gallon pot). On Sunday I had borrowed a ceramic coated canning pot from my step-mother and then on Monday my wonderful wife found a nice stainless steel pot for cheap. Unfortunately, it had minor rust so I would need to repair the steel before using it.
Summit Pale Ale
My local homebrew shop makes brew kits that contain the ingredients you need for brewing a specific beer (including the recipe). I figured this would be the best place to start. The kit was $24 plus $6 for a packet of American Ale yeast (recommended for this recipe). That $30 got me all the ingredients I needed. The kit included 7lbs of malt extract, 1lb of crystal malt and fresh hops.
I brewed it tonight and the process took about 3 hours. In 10 days I will bottle the beer. Two weeks after bottling it will be ready drink!
I’ll post detailed instructions after my third brew (second beer). If you’re interested in making Hard Cider you can read about my second brewing experience.