Monday, June 23, 2014

Homebrewing Basics- An Introduction

For whatever reason, even though I have a LOT of different hobbies, I'm always on the lookout for new ones. Homebrewing is something I've been interested in trying for ages- I mean, it's crafty, and it's beer- so by all accounts a perfect fit for me. I've just never managed to get around to it... until now.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to a presentation hosted by our local library called "Homebrewing: An Introduction to the Basics", presented by Don Roberts. Don is the co-owner of Homebrew Heaven, a local brewing supply store, and an avid home brewer.

In his presentation, Mr. Roberts gave an overview of what's involved in making beer, wine, cider and mead (a honey-based wine). The biggest takeaway for me was the understanding that in concept, beer, wine, and cider are all created using the same basic techniques.

Here's the super-simplified version:
  • Brewing: Using a recipe, the ingredients are gathered and combined. Generally, there's some cooking involved prior to the addition of yeast, in order to kill off any wild yeasts so the brew yields true to the yeast that's been chosen. 
  • Fermentation: Wait #1. The yeast does what it does best: takes in sugar, and gives off carbon dioxide gas, alcohol, and energy. Depending on what is being brewed, the time for this step will vary.
  • Bottling: When the fermentation phase is complete, the nearly-finished product is carefully moved from the fermenting vessel to the bottles. If additional carbonation is desired, additional sugar could be added at this point for a short, secondary fermentation in the bottle.
  • Bottle Conditioning: Wait #2. This is the last, and possibly most difficult stage, in which the final product gets to rest for a period of time (beer is one to three weeks, I'm not sure on the others) before consumption. 
The presentation was true to its title: a very high-level look at the basics, geared more towards whetting one's appetite than teaching actual technique. It certainly did the trick, though- as soon as their next class is scheduled, I'll be signing up. I'd like to get a hands-on look at the process in action, before I try to attempt it myself.

Until I get to take the class, however, I'll be doing some research and reading up on the subject. Do you have any experience brewing your own homemade beer, cider or wine? Tell me all about it!


Tony Yates said...

Hi! There is a world-wide community of home brewers on YouTube. Search for "Homebrew Wednesday" or "HBW" on YouTube and you will discover a home brewing community of hundred, united and sharing experience, trials, lessons learns and more. It's a great place to meet like minded folks and have a great time. Cheers!

Laura Damron said...

Hi Tony! That sounds like exactly what I need! Thank you for the tip- I'll definitely check it out. :) I take it you're a home brewer?