So, you like beer and want to try making your own batch at home? You’ve read about it on the internet. You’ve heard your buddies talk about it. You figure it’s time – what’s the worst that can happen, right? You drink it, it sucks, you throw it out.
Good for you! Welcome to the community!
Homebrewing is a fun hobby if you are really into beer, and you enjoy learning/practicing a process. It really is something you get better at each time you do it (if you are willing to try and learn from your mistakes). As I’ve talked about previously, my personal experienced started with an IPA kit I received as a gift. That batch was drinkable, and the reviews from my friends were that it didn’t suck. Hooray for me.
My next batch was a disaster.
I learned very quickly what a waste of time the process can be if you don’t properly sanitize your gear. That experience made me almost give up the hobby. Luckily, I had one gifted kit left, and rather than throw it out, I decided to give it my best shot. I spent some time reading articles online, and watching a lot of YouTube videos from experienced brewers. There is A LOT of nuance to this hobby that is lost when you just read the instructions that are inside of the kit you buy. When you understand the steps, understand the WHY behind what you are doing, and understand how the process leads you to different points in the brewing process, you can better execute the craft. And, you will also be in a better position to make corrections if a problem arises, OR, more importantly, be able to IDENTIFY that a problem is coming.
This series of posts will not be the companion piece to John Palmer’s, “How to Brew.” That dude wrote the definitive book on homebrewing, and you are hard pressed to read any beer forums that don’t refer back to John Palmer at least once. Rather, these posts will walk you through my process in brewing a beer on my stovetop in the plainest language I can provide. If I have to use jargon, I’ll be sure to explain the jargon. I’ve found that when people come over to try my beer, they usually ask about 20 different questions about it, and then say, “…that just seems like a lot, and I don’t think I could figure it out…”
YES YOU CAN.
In 2 minutes, I’m able to explain to people exactly what gravity means, and how important it is to the quality control process simply by putting my hydrometer in some tap water. All of this process can be explained and absorbed by looking at it in pieces rather than as a whole. Yes, its 4-5 hours of work, and yes, there are a lot of things you need to do along the way to get it right, but, it is manageable if you have a plan. You can use as little or as much equipment as your heart desires. Me personally, if there is a way to make the process easier (within reason), I try to either make the equipment or get the equipment.
For the purposes of this series, I’ll talk about the brewing process as it impacted one of my recent beers, The Bunsy Imperial Stout + Oak Chips.