One of the most common questions I get when it comes to home brewing is surprisingly not “how do I crank up the alcohol on my brew?” or “how soon can I drink my beer?”… No… the most common question is where do I even get started???
Well, the answer to this question, really varies greatly depending on your overall goals and what you are trying to accomplish when it comes to brewing beer…
- Are you looking at brewing beer to save money?
- Are you looking to become a brewmaster and brew for a micro-brewery?
- Are you looking at creating your own recipes?
- Are you looking at entering competitions?
- Are you looking to sell your beer to brew pubs or anyone else?
There are many different factors that will pull you one way or the other, and only you’ll be able to come up with the answer. However, here’s a simple guide that more or less explains what home brewing is about so you are better informed to make a decision…
Brewing beer consists of…
- Extracting sugars from the malt
- Mixing these sugars with hops and other ingredients to create your wort
- Fermenting the wort to turn into beer
- Bottle, or keg your beer
All grain brewing involves every single step and it is the hardest to do. Extract brewing skips the first step by using commercially available dry or liquid malt extract instead. Kit brewing skips the first two steps by using pre made kits that require you just add water and ferment.
If you are a brand new home brewer and just want to try out the hobby, the you can use kits like Mr. Beer, Coopers Microbrewery Kit, Or the Beer Machine. These kits make it really easy for just about anyone to start brewing and see how much better home brewing is over buying commercially available brew.
The only recommendation, if you plan on buying a kit, would be to get fresh yeast from your local home brew supply store and use it instead of the yeast on the kits. Some kits don’t have fresh yeast, so unless the yeast packet has a date that shows how fresh it is, then buy a new one.
Also, some people experience “watered down” brew with kits, which basically happens because they add too much sugar to the brew. There is a difference between using fermentable sugars and non-fermentable sugars. Be sure to use fermentable sugars to add more body.
If you are up a bit of a challenge and want more variety as far as brewing your own beer, then I recommend you get into extract brewing. You can put together the equipment needed to brew with extract malts cheaper than buying a kit. Since this is a bit more complicated than using a simple kit, I would recommend you check out the beer easy videos to make sure you don’t screw up your first few batches (which can be costly).
All you need for extract brewing is a pot, spoon, thermometer, hydrometer, fermenter, airlock, syphon, bottling equipment, and the ingredients.
Last, if you are the type of person who can start out a blackbelt in whatever they get their minds on, then all grain brewing may be just for you. This is by far the most complicated process out of all three and requires extra equipment and skills needed to do it at home…
If you just start out with no experience, on one to guide you and no learning material, then you are pretty much lost and will likely crash and burn. To avoid that, the very least you should do is watch the beer easy videos and read the brew beer bible at least seven times before brewing your first batch… you’ll thank me later…
I think anyone can start out with extract brewing and by brewing a pale ale, one can learn everything else fairly easy. This is hands down the fastest and easiest way I know of to become a home brewing master.