Building A Home Brewery
Have you ever dreamed of owning your own bar or pub? Well how about something a little smaller and maybe build your own home brewery. Now lets talk about some elaborate thing where you employ people and mass produce thousands of kegs of beer, but rather your own small boutique brewery where you brew different types of beer at home for own consumption and also for your family and friends. Of course you can make it as elaborate as you like.
Nowadays you can purchase some fantastic equipment that will turn your little brewery into a scaled back semi professional set up. You can purchase a very nice glass wort and watch your brew fermenting away before your eyes. If you want to brew a number of different beers you can of course purchase a number of worts and brew many beers simultaneously.
With the right bottling equipment you can also bottle dozens of beers in under 20 minutes enabling you to have a home production line that would rival any factory. Of course unless you want to start a professional business that brings with it all sorts of license requirements and countless other hassles, your bottling will only be on one day of the week and it’s all finished.
How easy or difficult is the process? That depends entirely on how much you want to influence the outcome. Whatever the method, prepare to commit some cash; at least $40 for an all-in-one kit, or up to $150 to make things from scratch. It’s worth the costs, however, when you finally crack open a bottle of your own personal beer and down it with glee.
The first option for the amateur brewer is to pick up an all-in-one beer kit. Mr. Beer, the most well-known, offers four different kits, from the $40 Deluxe Edition all the way up to the $150 Ultimate Edition. Another brand to consider is the $130-150 Starter Home Brewery set (which uses a glass carboy and organic ingredients). These sets don’t do all the work for you, but they do cut down on use of raw ingredients or jerry-rigged equipment. By using a kit, you’ll possibly save money and definitely ensure consistency. But all the ease of production comes at a price: good luck customizing the flavor of your beer using a pre-made brewpack.
For the truly discerning brewer-to-be, it may seem necessary to do everything yourself. This allows for much more experimentation and creativity; it also has a much smaller margin for error. It’s best to buy a brewkit first, experiment with it, and move on to custom beers once you’re comfortable. If you are, and you’ve made sure to properly sterilize all your equipment (via steam dry in the dishwasher or a diluted bleach soak and rinse) there are three broad phases to beer creation:
For this, you’ll need a brew pot, a recipe, a kitchen strainer, at least 2.5 gallons of water (most brew packs and recipes call for 2.5-3 gallons), and a rolling pin (to crush your grain ingredients). What ingredients you need depends on what kind of beer you’re making. A Simple Ale, for example, might contain:
3 lbs. light dried malt extract
8 oz. crushed crystal malt
1 oz. Northern Brewer pellet hops
1 pkg. brewers yeast
3/8 C. sugar, for bottling
But different beers require different amounts of even the most basic ingredients. The brewpot is where you prepare the beer ingredients–the “wort”–for fermentation. Use a large (at least 4 gallon) metal pot, ideally stainless steel or ceramic-coated. Using an aluminum pan will work, sort of, but your beer will end up tasting funny. And with a process as long as this one, the final result had better be good! Once you’ve prepared the wort, you’re ready for the second phase.
For this, you’ll need a serious fermenting container. No skimping with a two-liter bottle, here. Some sites suggest you use a fermenter made specifically for brewing, with a stopper and spigot; others show how to employ things like water cooler bottles. Whichever kind you use, pour in (“pitch”) your brewer’s yeast. Here is where the the infant beer shall remain as the yeast parties down inside, chowing down on the sugars within the wort and giving off carbon dioxide. To prevent the the whole thing from going kablammo like an oversized Wort Grenade, you’ll need an airlock, a simple little plastic doodad which constantly releases the building CO2. It forms an airtight seal between the fermenter’s stopper and the outside world. You can make one fairly easily, but plastic airlocks generally go for about $1, and I’d say that’s a dollar well spent. Place the container in a dark, cool place, and prepare for the hardest part of your brewing experience: waiting.
After feasting for 10-14 days, the yeast should be done with all the sugar. It’s time for your beer to go into the third phase…
Secondary fermentation takes place in sealed bottles, trapping the CO2 and giving the beer its foamy, fizzy carbonation. But since the sugars from the wort are all gone, you’ll need to add some “primer” sugar before bottling. Prepare a primer by boiling 3/8 a cup of sugar in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes, then pouring it into another container large enough to hold your beer. Siphon the beer into this new container carefully; your goal is to leave behind as much of the sediment as possible. From here, pour/siphon/spigot the beer into bottles and…wait some more. Let the beer age for another 7-10 days in that same cool, dark area from before; finally, pop open a bottle and have a taste.