My Kind of Beer with Chris Goddard
If you are a regular reader of my column you must enjoy the occasional craft beer or certainly have an appreciation of it. You’ve probably taken a weekend to tour a couple of breweries or visit a couple of beer festivals. If you like craft beer this much, the idea (or dream) of brewing your own beer must have crossed your mind at some time.
This month I challenge you to pick up that gauntlet and run with it. August is a lazier month than most so it makes it the perfect time to finally cross “home brewing” off the old bucket list. Beer is thought to have been the first alcoholic beverage ever created and it probably happened spontaneously — how hard can it be? Here are some tips to make sure your first brew is the first of many.
Where To Start — Chances are very high that one of your friends has brewed a batch of home brew and has a bunch of equipment already in hand. Ask around — you may be surprised. Brewing is best done with a couple of friends to help share the chores and reap the rewards.
It will take you a full day so make it an occasion for friends and family. If no one has ever tackled this in your network head down to your “local” home brew supply store and you will find a whole load of people who are interested in helping you get set up. My latest favourite home brew store is shortfingerbrewing.com.
They can hold your hand and get you through your first home brew without a hitch.
Recipes — A quick Google of “home brew recipes” will give you more than enough inspiration for your first brew. Home Brew stores also have kits you can buy for your first run.
You can choose between malt extract or all-grain kits. In my humble opinion, if you are brewing beer because you love it and not because you want cheap beer then skip the extract and go for the all-grain kits.
They are a little more complicated and require more attention and work but the result will be closer to “craft” beer and will be worth the extra effort. Pick something that you like and fairly forgiving but that isn’t too crazy — something like a pale ale or brown ale — avoid lagers until you have a few brews under your belt.
They require more time and are less forgiving if you make a mistake.
Rules — Home brew rules are simple and the basics are as follows:
- Clean: Clean everything — twice if you must. If you can’t remember if you cleaned something or if it falls on the garage floor clean it again. This is your new mantra. Especially things that you are using AFTER the boil.
- Temperature: Keep an eye on your temps at all times — give this job to someone who is responsible.
- Time: It would make sense that the temperature guy is also your official timekeeper. Time and temperature (after cleaning) are the most important things. Close is only good in horseshoes and hand grenades.
Have Fun — I can almost guarantee that home brewing will become a new ritual for you and your friends or neighbours. It’s a great way to spend some time catching up while still looking busy. Experiment but don’t get cocky. Chalk up a few in the “win” column before you try to brew your first pumpkin peach ale.