For the Love of Beer! To brew or not to brew?

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Not a bad way to start your first publicly posted article, writing specifically on the topic of Beer and Home Brewing.

If you are like me, you are always searching out the latest beer creations from one of the many craft breweries from the US and abroad…  Nowadays, there are so many incredible styles of beer and variations within those styles. Although unfortunate, it would be virtually impossible to sample all those incredibly beer styles and variations within one’s lifetime… I am not making this point to send anyone into the state of deep depression, in fact to the contrary.  Beer is truly a phenomenal libation when think of how many wonderful flavors can be created from 4 basic ingredients: Water, Barley, Hops & Yeast.  Note: in Germany those are the only ingredients you are legally allowed to use to make commercially sold beer (per the German “Beer Purity Law of 1516” [known as Reinheitsgebot).

In the US, craft beer brewing is like the Old Wild West, anything goes or should I say “anything goes” into these craft beers from fruit to hot peppers to spices. It is due to this one fact alone, you realize all of the endless possibilities the various combination of these adjuncts can create… Literally countless beer style variations.

What’s stopping you from home brewing and creating some tasty craft beer to enjoy and share with your friends?

It is easy and inexpensive to get started… First, if you really want to be a authentic brewer, skip the Mr. Beer kits. Before I address the basic equipment needed to get started, which I will provide in a follow-up article, you need to take an honest inventory of yourself and your skills to determine if would make a good home brewer. Ask yourself the following questions:

Are you a decent cook? Well, believe it our not, brewing is a lot like cooking a big pot of soup, so if you can’t cook up a decent soup or chili…. Uh, you may not be able to make a drinkable beer, which is the point.

Are you good at following very detailed instructions? Bottom line, you don’t follow the process, you are biting to have great results.

Are you patient? This one is tough for all brewers, you put so much into your brew day and you want to start drinking your newest brew asap, but if you rush the process and don’t allow the yeast to do their job and a time to age your beer a little… Well, you are going to have an inferior beer.

Are you a good custodian? (i.e. is your kitchen clean?) Don’t worry, I’m not planning on coming over to see if you’re place is clean. However, cleanliness is critical in making good beer. Remember, you don’t want your magical little yeast buddies competing with the stuff growing on the dirty dishes sitting in your sink… This situation does not make for tasty
brew, so be kind to your yeast and give them a clean environment to grow.

Believe it or not, these questions are relevant to being a good home brewer. If you can’t answer “yes” to at least 3 of these questions, then you may want consider simply continuing to enjoy other folks craft brewed beer.

In all seriousness, a great resource to determine if home brewing is really a good fit for you and your passion for craft beer, I recommend reading the free online edition of John Palmer’s book How to Brew“.  This book is a quick read and provides a substantial amount of details on the process of brewing beer. After reading, you will be able decide if brewing is for you or not.

Whatever you decide, be sure to continue enjoying great craft brewed beer whether it is your own home brew or someone else’s.

Cheers!

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5 responses to “For the Love of Beer! To brew or not to brew?

    • Just put a Northern English Brown Ale (New Castle Clone) in the Keg. Also, my Bier de Noel, which is a Belgium Dark Strong is in the keg now. I will bottle some of both for you.

      And, I have a Northern German Alt Bier in the fermentor now.

      Hope to see you soon…

      Cheers!

  1. If I may pick you up one one point in amongst a great post…the German Purity Law is no longer in effect, and hasn’t been for quite some time…otherwise we wouldn’t have the wonder of hefeweizen to enjoy! I believe the law was originally in place to prevent brewers using wheat to make beer, to ensure bakers had enough supply to make bread. Cheers!

    • Thanks Carniebrew, I appreciate the note. You are correct, the Reinheitsgebot is no longer fully in effect. However, the following excerpt from the History of the Reinheitsgebot indicates the law overall is still in effect.

      The revised Vorläufiges Biergesetz of 1993 is a slightly expanded version of the allowing, besides water, malted barley, and hops, for yeast to be used for bottom-fermented beer, and for different kinds of malt, and sugar to be used for top-fermented beer. All ingredients and the process itself are subject to additional regulations.
      Thus, German breweries continue to comply with the Biergesetz, often claiming compliance with the Reinheitsgebot even when it is patently incorrect (for example, for wheat beers, which were prohibited by the Reinheitsgebot), using this compliance as a valuable marketing tool.

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