I never would have discovered my love for cooking had I not first fallen in love with food itself. It was a natural progression. Some of you may not know this about me, but I also love beer. Therefore, I am optimistic for my first crack at home brewing.
Home brewing is a practice as old as beer itself, but fermenting your own bottle of suds at home was illegal in the United States from the beginning of Prohibition in 1920 through 1978, when President Jimmy Carter lifted the Federal ban and left it to the states to decide. Since then, American has gone from being home to six mega-breweries to thousands of craft breweries, and twenty times as many home brewers.
Thankfully, I have a family member that is into it, and the dude makes himself some tasty beer, so he got me on board. I have heard that if you can boil water, you can make beer, so I’m feeling encouraged at this point. My plan is to document the journey along the way, for better or for worse.
Before you do anything, you have to make sure that you have the right gear, and there are some great local homebrew shops where you can get some face time with the staff and field recommendations. No matter what neighborhood you are in, there should be one relatively nearby. Hop City in West Midtown, Ale Yeah! in Decatur, Barley & Vine in Stockbridge, Brew Depot in Alpharetta, and Brewmasters Warehouse in Marietta all come to mind. I got all of my hardware online from Austin Homebrew Supply, and went to a local shop to pick out my malt extract, yeast, and hops.
Here is a breakdown of the basic hardware that I have gone with, though there are simpler kits out there that you can purchase:
1x 4+ gallon stockpot
1x 7.9 gallon plastic fermenter (or a 6.5 gallon glass carboy) with airlock
1x 5-10 gallon plastic bucket or trash pail
1x 6 ft. plastic siphon hose
1x auto-siphon (3/8”)
1x 21” stainless steel spoon
1x bottle capper
Many bottle caps, new and unused
48-60x 12oz beer bottles (non-screw top bottles, preferably dark glass)
This is a quick list of essentials that you will need to get your homebrew on, though there is plenty of accessorizing that can be done depending on the amount of work and the style of beer you want to brew. However, this should give any beginner – such as myself – what they need to put together their first batch with relative ease.
I’d love to hear from other home brewers out there. For my first batch, I’m going with a dark ale, single stage brew. I’m sure I’m going to learn a few lessons the hard way during this process, and no step in the process has a higher probability of teaching that to me than:
Step 2: Clean and sanitize EVERYTHING….
(To be continued)
- Jon Watson, Food & More blog