Perhaps one of the good outcomes the pandemic unceremoniously made us do is revisit hobbies and interests while passing the time away. The abrupt change of the hectic lifestyle to a dormant, work-from-home lifestyle in a jiffy can drive anyone crazy. In a bid to feel happy and productive, finding ways to make better use of your time became a coping mechanism.
You suddenly have time to learn new things—obsessing over perfecting your brewed coffee, cooking your favorite dish, speaking a new language, learning to develop film, or finally finishing reading those piles of books gathering dust in your bookshelves. Getting into hobbies is an excellent way to keep your sanity intact.
Crossing off things in your bucket list feels empowering, especially if you can learn hobbies few people will care to master, such as brewing your own beer. Beer has always been a universal conversation starter, and you can proudly exchange stories with your friends about how you started getting into it through beer-making kits.
What You Need To Brew Beer
There are four steps to remember when brewing your beer: preparation, brewing, fermentation, and bottling. More than the know-how and ingredients, the secret to successfully brew beer is time and patience. For beginners, it can be confusing, but you don’t need to hoard; just buy what is essential every step of the way and upgrade at a later time. Here’s the rundown of the basics you will be needing.
- bleach or mild, unscented soap detergent
- sanitizer (must be FDA approved)
- mesh straining bag (fine mesh construction type)
- malt extract
- brewing kettle or large stainless pot
- ice (optional: wort chillers)
- drinking water
- stir spoon
- rubber stopper
- auto-siphon and tubing
- fermenting bucket
- clear carboy
- test jar
- bottling bucket spigot
- priming sugar
- kegging (optional to bottling)
A Brief Rundown Of The Brewing Process
With the right equipment and can-do attitude, you can brew beer at the comfort of your own home. Before starting and after use, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean and sanitize your equipment to prevent contamination.
Items that will come in contact with wort after the boil, such as the fermenting bucket, lid, airlock, rubber stopper, yeast starter jar, hydrometer, funnel, test jar, and siphon, must be cleaned to help preserve the beer’s natural flavor.
Generally, there are three brewing methods: extract brewing recommended for beginners, partial mash, and all-grain brewing for novice. When it comes to brewing, using adequate temperature and correct timing of putting the right ingredients is essential. The three basic steps to remember are:
- Steep or mash your grain in hot water to activate the enzymes that will prepare it for the conversion of starches into sugars. Remove the mashed grain and add the malt extract.
- Boil to a high temperature while occasionally stirring to destroy unwanted enzymes and remove harmful oxygen. When settled, add hops to add flavor and aroma. This mixture is now known as wort.
- After an hour, you can cool down to reduce wort to room temperature for 20 minutes to ensure that the beer has a high level of clarity and prevent infection. You can place it in a pot of ice bath or wort chiller, with the latter being more effective in reducing the temperature within the prescribed time frame.
Then, it’s time for fermentation, where the magic happens. Sugars are converted by yeast into alcohol. This ends in one or two weeks, depending on how fast the fermentation is. There’s also a secondary fermentation that will make your beer more polished.
Finally, it’s time to store your beer for consumption. Bottling is the traditional and inexpensive way of storing, and it comes as a package in most beer-making kits. However, kegging is on the rise because it is easier and quicker than the former, but it comes with a hefty investment.
Start Brewing Today
Just like any hobby, it takes time and patience to perfect your own bottle of beer. There may be a steep learning curve, and errors are expected, but brewing beer is one of the many ways to make better use of your time. After all, you aren’t going anywhere while the pandemic is ongoing. Have a beer ready inside your house while waiting for everything to pass. Bottoms up!
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Author: Daisy Oliveira
Daisy is the Assistant Marketing Manager of Danny’s Wine & Beer — a wine and beer supplies company, committed to being one of Ontario’s leaders in providing an unbeatable wine and beer making experience. With Daisy’s passion for working with people, she maintains excellent client relationships and assures their customers have the best possible experience. In her spare time, she likes to travel with friends, exploring as many countries and cultures as she can.