Beginner Brewing With The Community Brew Shop
Starting to brew on your own is a bit of an ordeal. Not that the hobby is reserved for the elite or beer experts, but there is a commitment that needs to be made which will cost money, time, brain power and moderate effort.
This post will hopefully help clear the air, and cut through some of the stacks of information available. This of course is once again, my humble opinion on where to begin. There are several methods for making beer, but if you are going to invest in making brewing a hobby, you want to enjoy things from the start. I mean enjoy the process, the learning, and especially enjoy your first beer!
So let’s get down to it. First of all, when you are a beginner you will likely look at 3 methods for making beer.
- Extract Brewing – This method usually involves bringing water to a boil and adding in a concentrated form of wort. These usually come in a powder or liquid. Some kits come with yeast as well, or even some specialty grains to raise the flavour profile. This method has a somewhat predictable outcome if you follow the instructions. You will still need a large container and some of the proper fermentation equipment, sanitizer, hoses, stir sticks and so on.
This does provide predictable results if you follow the instructions, but the quality of the beer is often suffering. Consider the difference between making a fresh pasta sauce and buying one from the shelf that has been mass produced with concentrated ingredients. If you are thinking of making beer because you like craft beer, freshness, flavour and quality, this method will certainly be disappointing. This is the method that a lot of people talk about where they made 1 batch and it was gross so they never brewed again.
- Brew In A Bag (BIAB) – This method involves bringing water to temperature and adding freshly milled grain into a bag or strainer of some sort. The bag goes into the hot water for a certain period of time. Once sugar is extracted remove the grain and bag and boil to add hops, then cool and ferment.
I am firm believer that this method works extremely well and will produce a high quality brew. I have experimented with this on several occasions as had good results. This is a great method for beginners and requires minimal starting equipment. The only issue I have is: to get a large volume of beer, even a standard 5G/23L batch, you need to have large equipment, and/or large muscles. The amount of grain required to make batches using BIAB method takes a considerable amount of space in your brew pot. You need large volumes of water and large volumes of grain. When the grain gets wet it gets extremely heavy and you may need some sort of lifting mechanism to raise and lower it from the pot.
There of course is the option where you add in an extract for the base malt, and specialty grain in a bag. Kind of a combo of methods. This works well, but is still a considerable amount of work, also the result is better if you use freshly milled grain for your base malt instead.
- All Grain Infusion Mash – This method involves adding grain and water at a specific temperature and holding it to extract sugars. Wort is drained, boiled then hops are added. The mixture is then cooled and fermented.
This is one of the most common methods for the modern day home brewer, as well as modern craft breweries. The volume of the brew being made here is the main difference between large and small equipment. You can salvage some equipment or make it at home for as little as a few hundred dollars, or you can buy a turnkey operation you just plug in for several thousands of dollars.
If you are getting into brewing I highly suggest this is where you start! Not with a costly turnkey operation, but with some simple equipment. A few large pots, a cooler with a drain and a few trips to the hardware store. You can create any type of beer you desire, get great results and have a reasonable volume of beer that you can enjoy. You can make 5-10G of beer with reasonable equipment in this category.
This is also the stuff you can readily find online for sale, as people increase their volume, upgrade their equipment or get out of the hobby. If you get into this and find you don’t like it, the equipment is easy to sell, or it can be upgraded easily by someone willing to do the work.
The message I am trying to convey here is this:
If you want a good end product…start with a good process, good ingredients and good volume. It takes the same amount of effort with all of these methods to make beer, so why not start with the right method for home brewing. Skip the bulky or concentrated methods and produce good beer right from the start. It will the make hobby much more enjoyable in the long run, save you money and you can master the techniques to make any beer you want with great results.
Top Secret Info: I am not sure how many people have been following the blog posts, but this is the first time we will mention it before announcing it in the newsletter, and then to the general public. If you are reading this and want to try brewing without buying all the equipment, sign up as a customer. We will be announcing a new “Loaner” program soon where you can borrow equipment to try it out with the purchase of product. With a small refundable deposit you will get everything you need to be successful. It will come with instructions, and all the fresh ingredients you need to brew a great beer. Equipment is limited, but we will begin a reservation list once it is launched. We can even help you design your beer and help if you get stuck on brew day. So start saving your bottles! Look for it in our newsletter!
Thanks again for reading! Cheers!