||Beer Brewing at Home
Believe it or not, you can make superb-tasting
beers in your own home. In fact, you can
create home brews that stand up very well
against the best commercial products.
There are a number of excellent
magazines on home brewing. Some
cookbooks that help you copy
products. Others delve more deeply
chemistry and theory of home
Home brewers fall into 2 camps,
- Whole-grain brewers "make it from scratch.".
The standard batch in recipes is 5 gallons
of beer, which yields just over 50 12-ounce
bottles. A batch this size requires roughly
9 to 12 pounds of whole grains, which must
be steeped in hot water to release their
sugars. To do this correctly, you need a
very large, unwieldy pot. You must monitor
water temperatures precisely to get the desired
- Extract brewers take a critical shortcut.
"Extracts" are either dry (a sweet,
flour-like powder, like the malt used in
malted milk) or liquid (a sweet, thick syrup
that comes in cans and has the consistency
of molasses). The typical 5-gallon batch
requires about 6 pounds of extract, which
is about a gallon in volume. All this extract,
in turn, needs to be dissolved and cooked
in about 2.5 gallons of water. You can split
this between 2 large-sized pots.
Extract brewers cannot entirely escape using
whole grains. Most extract-based recipes
will require them to steep about a pound
of grains to get the proper flavors. Still,
that is much easier to handle than the bulk
involved in whole-grain brewing. Moreover,
extract-based home brews can taste as fine
as whole-grain beers.
There is another big divide in
- Ales are relatively easy to produce at home,
since they ferment and age at room temperature.
- Lagers require specialized refrigeration
equipment, or especially cold cellars, since
they must ferment and age at temperatures
well below 50º F.
If you have a home brew supply
your home, or a home brewing
club in your
area, they can help you get started
you the ropes. The equipment
that you need
to get started is relatively
(roughly $100 or so) and does
much space to store (the bulkiest
a pair of large glass carboys
and aging). Shops also do mail
the absence of a nearby supplier should be
no impediment. They also are
expert at creating
"kits" that include
all the necessary
ingredients to produce a given
type of beer.
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