Craft beers are very popular in the United States. In 2015, more than 24 million barrels of this kind of beer were sold around the country. That same year, the craft brewing industry grew 12.2% by volume and 21% by dollar share. This has inspired people across the nation to brew their own beer. There are now 1.2 million people who take part in this hobby. The impact on the economy has been great. From the sale of supplies such as magnetic drive pumps and beer pump accessories to beer making classes and the like, home brewers only add value to the economy. But how hard is it to brew your own beer? Here are some tips for the novice beer brewer:
- Make sure your ingredients are fresh and of good quality.It is no secret that when you cook, make wine or brew beer or make anything that people eat or drink, fresh ingredients are always going to make better products. Foods and beverages just taste better when you start with fresh ingredients. Put your grains someplace cool, liquid yeast needs to be put in the refrigerator and your hops belong in the freezer. Doing these things will make your beer taste much better.
- Buy quality equipment. If you plan to make your own beer for a long time, you need more durable equipment than you have with a beer making kit. Get your own beer brewing pump. Magnetic drive pumps are great and they are not that expensive. Get an immersion cooler. Go for it and get a nine gallon stainless steel pot. These things may be more expensive than a kit but they will last longer and make better beer. You will save money in the long run. Consider getting an outdoor propane burner so you can brew your beer outside. As fun as it is to brew your own beer, it does create odors that will linger and you may not want your kitchen to have.
- Everything needs to be kept sterile. If it is going to be in contact with your beer needs to be sterile. That means you need to sanitize everything from the magnetic drive pumps you use to the bottles to your beer pump. All of it. Once your beer has cooled, it is very vulnerable to bacteria growth. You can use bleach or iodophor. Magnetic drive pumps that are dirty can kill your beer, for instance.
- Boil your wort. You need to do this for an hour to an hour and a half. This is for several reasons. First of all, this process sterilizes the wort. Any compounds you do not want in the wort are vaporized. It also helps insure any tannins or proteins in the wort will naturally fall out of the mixture later. Lastly, bittering oils are released from the hops. The longer you can boil this, the better.
- After boiling, you need to cool the wort as quickly as you can. This removes those tannins and proteins. This will also inhibit the growth of bacteria (this is the last thing you want in your beer). One piece of equipment you can get to help with this is an immersion wort cooler. If you are making a full batch, this is really important.
- Make more beer, not less. If you do a full bath rather than a half batch, the quality of your homebrew will be of a better quality. You will also get more out of your wort when you make more beer. You miss out on the benefits of the wort boil when you only boil half. Larger batches just taste better than the smaller batches.
Brewing beer at home is a lot of fun. Once you get to understand the process you can start to make your own flavors and you can be creative with it. While a lot of the process is scientific, there is a fair amount of art in it as well. You vary your beer and tailor it to the different seasons. You would want a lighter beer in the summer than during the holidays, for instance. Home brewed beer also makes a great gift. It is personal and fun and just something people cannot get anywhere else.