Starting out Brewing Ale

For the love of beer. Follow my home brewing journal as I try to advance from a complete novice.

  1. Starting out Brewing Ale

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I’ve been wanting to get into home brewing for some time now, particularly the brewing of ale. Finally, I’ve taken the plunge and purchased my first bit of kit. Follow my journal as I go from very amateur and humble beginnings, to a well versed and experienced home brewer (in theory!).

I’ve got a lot of experience when it comes to beer, unfortunately that experience is entirely made up of drinking it instead of brewing it. But that’s all about to change… I hope. Having wanted to learn how to brew for some time now, I’ve finally dipped my toe in and bought my first bit of kit. I’m completely of the opinion that I’m going to make lots of mistakes along the way, but hopefully learn from those experiences and get better at it. I’ve also decided to start easy and use the very basics in terms of kit, spending little money to start with, but gradually improve my setup with better quality and more specialised equipment, as I learn, experiment and fine tune. I’ll begin this venture with a simple brewing kit.

Shopping List

Must have:

  • Fermenting bucket
  • Hoppy Copper Bitter brewing kit (includes yeast)
  • Brewing sugar
  • Long mixing spoon (it’s a deep fermenting bucket)
  • Steriliser

Wants / improvements:

  • Syphon
  • Pressure barrel (to store the final brew in / could be used for a 2nd fermentation to remove more sediment, improve clarity)

So what have I bought to start things off? Well, my Mrs kindly gave me £15’s worth of Love 2 Shop vouchers (how nice right, wasn’t even my birthday!), which I took to my local Wilko. They have a reasonably priced home brewing supplies section, which I’d spotted last time I was in store. So, first things first, I bought a 25 litre (44 pints) fermenting bin for £10, a Hoppy Copper Bitter brewing kit (makes 40 pints) for £12, and a 1kg bag of brewing sugar for £2.75 – just £9.75 spent after my jackpot in vouchers was accepted. The brewing kit is a simple ‘add water and sugar’ type kit so technically I could start this batch with the very limited kit I now own (which takes 21 days to brew), but I’ve paused to do a little prep and order a little more gear to do things better, such as some long mixing spoons, steriliser, a syphon, and a 25 litre pressure barrel, which was more of a want than a need.

If I’ve learnt anything from my reading, it’s that you need to sterilise EVERYTHING, otherwise risk contaminating your beer and ruining it (no one wants that). Therefore, steriliser goes on the ‘must have’ list.

Prep-wise, I’ve cleaned out the garage to create some space for my kit and somewhere to sterilise things and do all the grunt work. The fermenting process will have to be done inside the house (not told the Mrs about that yet) since its’s too cold in the garage (with my simple plastic kit at least) – it’ll need to ferment at around 18 – 20°C, but once brewed I can syphon it off in the garage where it’s nice and cool, with the idea being that it’ll keep better and quench my thirst a while longer. I’ve read that these homebrew kits can last 3 months from production date (for best results), but are viable up to 6 months, especially if kept cool. It can vary though depending on the type of yeast used e.g. dry yeast can be viable for up a year if stored at room temperature, longer if refrigerated. Those time frames go straight out of the window once you start pouring/drinking from your barrels/containers of course, since that releases pressure etc, same as with the mini kegs you can buy in supermarkets.

Humble beginnings – my (very amateur) staging area for brewing beer in my garage

FYI – I don’t own a BMW, the previous owner wrote that on the wall.

I’m going to wait for my final bit of kit to arrive and then start the process. I’m going to start it on a Friday after I finish work, ready for consumption on a Friday night 3 weeks later! Wish me luck.

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