Meander Valley Gazette

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A Brew to Gladden the Heart

FeatureJoanne EisemannComment

AUGUST 2018 | Karl Gammler

THERE ARE many reasons a person decides to have a go making beer at home.

The first reason for most people is usually financial motivation. But I am always hearing sentimental stories about helping dad, granddad or an uncle out in the shed making beer…

Whatever it is that helps you decide to take the first step, it can be a hugely satisfying hobby.

There is a kind of magic that happens every time we pour ourselves a beer that is a concoction purely designed by oneself. To have total control over all aspects of the brewing process, the satisfaction is enormous.

We are entering the modern era of beer-making at home, and there has never been a more exciting time to be entering this world.

The cost of semi-automated, miniature breweries is quite reasonable and these machines are becoming more readily available, and the equipment and ingredients readily accessible.

Nowadays, we can make beer in the comfort of our homes which can easily surpass commercial equivalents and that can compete with the best of craft breweries that are springing up everywhere we look.

Whether it is all-grain, extract or a mixture of both, the available options are seemingly endless.

You could actually brew the same extract all year and never have the same beer twice, (unless you’ve made something you’re happy with and do not want to experiment any more.)

The days of being offered a homemade beer at a mate’s place and secretly thinking, “Hello, is he trying to poison me or what?” are long gone

Now you are eagerly waiting for your host to pull out a sample bottle or a beer from his kegorator, so you can tip your commercial swill down the drain and ask, “What have we got this time?”

As with any hobby, you can spend bucketloads of cash, but you really don’t need to, when first starting out. With a basic starter kit you can make really good beer with a minimum of equipment. It’s what you do with the equipment that counts.

The completely uninitiated will ask, “Where do I start?”

You will definitely need a fermenting vessel (FV). Food grade plastic is fine – it’s what I still use. The FV will need to have a tap with sediment reducer, thermometer, grommet and airlock.

Also on your checklist should be: sanitiser, cleaning materials, hydrometer, stirring paddle, bottlebrush (if bottling), and bottle filler (little bottler).

You could be lucky enough to have these items gifted to you. That’s how I came by my first two fermenters.

You can also go to your local home brewing store (LHBS) or shop online and just purchase a starter kit.

Or, you can do worse than look for private ads (such as Gumtree). Unwanted Christmas present starter kits seem to pop up regularly.

You will also need access to a kitchen, plenty of water and a kettle.

What are you going to do with the finished product? (Besides drink it!)

You will either need to bottle or keg your beer. I still bottle, but kegging has become a lot cheaper. If you are bottling, will it be in plastic or glass?

Glass is cheaper but you will need a capper and caps (crown seals). Plastic bottles (PET) can be purchased from your local home brewing store or online and should be included in a starter kit.

Glass bottles can also be sourced from a tip store. Twist offs will work, but crown seals are better.

Next time: Brewing your first beer.

Photo | Mike Moores