Craft beers have taken over many regions of the country, and enthusiasts are turning their kitchens into home-based breweries. If this sounds like your kind of hobby, keep reading to learn all you need to know in order to brew your first batch. While you may not rival the taste of your favorite microbrew in your first couple of batches, craft beer is a great hobby and a fun way to learn more about how beers are made and which flavors appeal most to you. Even if you have a tiny apartment kitchen, craft brewing is possible and fun to do.
The first decision to make is if you will buy extract for the base of your beer or create your own. Many hobbyists choose to purchase the extract for their first few batches until they get a better handle on the process. If you opt to make your own, be prepared for some pretty intensive process steps. To make your own, you will need to either purchase a mill for your grain or find a local source that can do this step for you. There are many various home brewing kits available and they will have all of the necessary equipment for you to get started. Be sure that you have a 5-gallon pot, long-stem thermometer, and auto-siphon as these are generally not included in the kits.
Once you have decided whether you will create your own mash or boil an extract, the next step is to find a recipe for a beer style that you enjoy. Pilsner is the base grain that most crafters find easiest to work with, but let your taste buds do your deciding for you! Don’t be surprised if the recipe that interests you the most comes at a cost, most of the good ones do. The majority of small-batch craft beers can be made on a stovetop with your brewing kit and 5-gallon pot. There is a bit of trial and error but be sure to follow the recipes and methods to the letter as you are starting out.
You will need to move to the bathroom in order to cool the wort, but again, everything is contained in the 5-gallon pot which keeps the process fairly straightforward. Transfer the concoction to the fermenter and measure the Original Gravity of the mix bearing in mind that water has a gravity of 1.000. The fermentation process can take about two weeks and it is important to not rush this step! While you are waiting it is a good time to sanitize all of the bottles and equipment that you will use once the beer is properly fermented.
Craft brewing is a fun hobby that offers the added benefit of an end product that you can share and enjoy with friends. If you are looking for a fun hobby that produces delicious craft beer, it is worth checking out. Even if you find it is not for you, you will gain a newfound appreciation of the work of your favorite craft brewers!