Brewing your own beer can be both personally and financially rewarding. Making beer is one of those hobbies that can seem like a lot of work, but in reality, it isn’t that tough. Setting up a home brewery is easy with the right steps followed, and all you really need is a little space and the names of some great suppliers. To help set up your homebrew and kickstart your new hobby, try using these simple tips to get started.
Home brewery equipment
The one thing you’ll likely need to buy for your homebrew set up is the brewing equipment that your beer will thrive in. Bringing your beer to the stage of fermentation can actually be completed by things you probably already have around the house. The fermenter though is a specialised piece of equipment you’ll need to purchase to get started. There are many great homebrew shops in Melbourne that can help can you started. Experts like the team at Grain and Grape, can help you understand the best set up for your goals. Fermenters come in all different shapes and sizes and are the vessels that you ferment your beer in. Whether you want to have enough cold beers to get you through a few months or a few weeks, there is a fermenter that will suit your needs. Coming in sizes as small as 5 litres for those specialist brews to 60 litres, you can start as big or as small as you like. The one consideration for the size you choose should be the space you have available. The fermenter will need to be kept in a space that has a consistent climate and relatively sheltered space. The best tip before buying a fermenter is to identify where you’ll keep it while it works its magic on your brew. Your fermenter will also come with a stopper and an airlock to help with the fermentation process.
Depending on which bottles you choose for your brew, you may also need a bottle capper. This is a specialised piece of equipment you’ll find at most brew shops. However, an alternative is opting for swing-top bottles that don’t require caps. Other equipment you’ll need is a large pot, usually greater than 15L, a large metal spoon, a colander or sieve and a thermometer. Most of these items can be found around the house and may not require you to go out buy them.
Home brewery ingredients
Beer consists of four main ingredients, water, yeast, hops and barley. Without these ingredients, you won’t have much success in setting up a home brewery. These ingredients will remain consistent throughout almost every brew you do. The variations of those ingredients or the volume is what makes each brew unique. There is a sprawling range of hops for example that will give your brew a distinct flavour and help bitter the beer. Choosing which hops you use for your brew can take a little education. Getting hops in Melbourne is easy, thanks to the climate and availability at local brew shops. These experts can help you learn all about the variations, bittering flavours, when to add to your brew and how much you’ll need.
The barley or malt you choose to use is also very important. Different barley’s give the beer distinct flavours and will help create the profile you’re after. The barley acts as the fermenting agent, because it’s the sugar your yeast will feed on. Most homebrew shops will offer both extract or powdered malt, as well as liquid malt. Depending on your brewing technique and how much you need, both options work wonders. The final key ingredient is your yeast, which plays a crucial role in fermenting your beer. The different types of yeast are important to understand as they won’t become active unless kept at the right temperature. Each yeast will clearly explain the temperature requirements for fermentation, so be sure to keep an eye on the packet before you buy. For colder climates, it’s best to go for a yeast that doesn’t require a high temperature to ferment, this is an important consideration in winter.
The brewing process works in a very systematic way that is easy for anyone to accomplish. You begin by boiling your water to a certain temperature. Once you achieve this temperature its critical you take the pot off the heat before adding your malt. This helps ensure it doesn’t burn on the bottom of your pot where the heat source is. Once you’ve successfully added your malt, you can return your pot to the heat and bring back to the boil. This is where you’ll begin adding your hops. Adding hops to your at the beginning of your boil will increase the bitterness. Then you’ll add more hops at distinct intervals in the brewing process, for example at the 30, 20 and 10 minute marks of your timer. The hops at the latter stages, help to provide flavours, such as fruitiness to your brew. Once you’ve completed the boiling time, usually 60 minutes, you’ll then need to remove all hops and allow your brew to cool.
Once your brew has cooled to a certain temperature, guided by the yeast packet, you are ready to put your brew into the fermenter and pitch your yeast. Pour the brew into your fermenter and then carefully add the yeast to the brew. The yeast will become active in the first few days of the brewing process. Place your fermenter in the designated spot and put the stopper in the top with the airlock attached, this will help your brew ferment and expel the gas. Depending on the climate, your brew will need 7-14 days to ferment before you can begin bottling. Bottling requires some tubing and a set of clean bottles to get started. You’ll also need some sugar pills to help the yeast complete it’s final feed in the bottle and to get the carbonation process started. Once you’ve bottled the beer, it will be a week or two before the beer is ready to go into the fridge. It’s important that while your beer carbonates you store it in a dark spot, away from sunlight.
Keeping your home brewery clean
One of the most important things to remember when starting brewing your own beer, is hygiene. You’ll be enjoying many cold beers from your homebrew and like all products you consume, hygiene is incredibly important. Bacteria is the biggest enemy in fermented products, so ensuring your brewing process is clean and sterilised in important. Make sure you have the necessary cleaning processes and products in place when you start. Homebrew suppliers and shops offer a full range of sterilisers to help. The best tip for sterilising your equipment is to use crystallised sterilisers and a spray bottle. Put some crystals into the bottle, add water and then use the bottle to spray down all your equipment before, during and after your brew. Sterilising bottles can be done in a large tub, with the sterilising crystals or with a specialised bottle sterilising mix as well. As well as your bottles, it’s important to sterilise the bottle caps as well, if you choose this option for bottling. As you’re brewing, if you aren’t sure if you’ve sterilised enough, always err on the side of caution and sterilise again. The last thing you want is nasty bacteria creeping into your brew.
Brewing beer at home is a very fun and interesting hobby, not to mention a mindful practise you can get lost in. You can design your own brews, test new flavours and also save a lot of money on beer. The average 25-litre brew should provide around 45 stubbies. Once you have the setup, you’ll be amazed at just how cheap that brew costs to make. If you’re considering brewing at home, then use these simple tips to get you started.