I have a confession to make... the first time I brewed beer a beer, it was a Coopers brew-out-of-a-can pale ale that I picked up at the supermarket back in 2001. And I use the word "brew" very loosely as I hardly consider opening a can and adding water to be brewing beer; it's actually more like mixing a drink (and then leaving it for a week or so to become alcoholic before drinking...).
But I digress - my personal brewing practices have evolved many times over the years. There was the continuously stirred tank (ie. the big pot on the stove being stirred non stop by hand in an attempt to maintain an even temperature profile) that often ended in pockets of dead enzymes... then there was the double urn system that caramelised the bottom of the grain bed without fail everytime... and finally a proper 3 tiered system with pumps and fast cooling so that I could brew a pilsner that didn't smell like cooked cabbage.
Even though I now get to brew on much bigger, fancier, shinier, semi-automated systems, it's never the same as the hands on homebrewing. I love to get out my small 50L pilot system and play around with ingredients and recipes to make something new, unique and fun. I still use this system to test out and fine tune all of my new beer ideas before eventually upscaling them for commercial brewing (or admittedly occasionally pouring the test batch down the drain and never speaking of it again...!). There's something extra refreshing about drinking the beer that you toiled and slogged over making yourself. It's an achievement and even better, you can make a beer that is specific to your exacting standards for taste, alcohol content, additives (or lack thereof) and fizziness.
There are many ways to brew a beer - you can find a recipe online or in a book and copy it exactly, you can buy a kit for a beer style and follow the instructions, you can use one of the great beer recipe calculators available online like BeerSmith or Brewersfriend... or if you are a mathematics fanatic like myself, you first choose your ingredients and final alcohol content and then work backwards to calculate the brewing steps for my brewery system. I like to understand all of the little scientific details behind the work of art I create and over the next few weeks, I will be blogging a series of detailed discussion on brewing your own beer at home from ingredients and recipe development all the way through to packaging.
Stay tuned for part 1: The ingredients!
If you are interested in learning how to brew a great beer at home from scratch using 100% grain, we run all grain brewing classes every other month that include recipe development, a brewing workshop and beer tasting. Check out our website for bookings.
We are also running a special once off Mother-daughter brew day for Mother's Day on the 8th of May from 2-5pm including afternoon high-tea. Spaces are strictly limited, details on our website here.