Get Started Brewing Your Own Beer

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If you live in San Diego, you’ve probably heard some really great rags to riches stories in the vein of home brewers. For example, what began as a hobby brewing beer at home has become a multi billion dollar company for local Ballast Point founder Jack White. A lot of beer lovers in San Diego have dreams of making it big (or just turning their hobby into a profitable brewery). So where do you start, and how do you brew your own beer at home?

Rest assured, there is no need to invest a fortune to get started making your own beer. The easiest way to go about it is to buy a basic homebrewing kit. Most basic home brewing kits consist of:

  • “Ale Pail” primary fermenter with lid
  • “Ale Pail” bottling bucket with spigot
  • Easy Clean no-rinse cleanser
  • Airlock
  • Siphon and bottling set-up
  • Hydrometer
  • Bottle cleaning brush
  • Twin lever bottle capper
  • Liquid crystal thermometer
  • Bucket clip

So, what is beer actually made out of and how are they combined to create the refreshing, tasty beverage that we’ve all come to know and love? Beer includes hops, malt, grains, and yeast.

Hops are the flowers of the plant Humulus lupulus. Hop cones from female plants are used in brewing and contain the alpha acids that determine bitterness. The higher the alpha acid percentage, the more bitterness that hop will contribute to your boil. (Ever heard someone describe a beer as “hoppy”? Now you know why!)

Brewers also use a small amount of what are called “specialty grains” can help add flavor, aroma, color, and body to the beer. Grains must first be crushed before you add them to your home brew recipe. You can crush grains at home if you have a special tool, but it might be easier to buy crushed grains (or have a local homebrew shop crush them for you).

Malts also add to the flavor of a beer. Different types of malts include Lager Malts, Pale Malts, Vienna Malts, Munich Malts, Toasted, Roasted and Chocolate Malts, to name a few. Using malt extracts is a convenient way of making your own beer and can make the process more enjoyable for new home brewers. Malt extracts can produce exceptional beers and add a lot of depth and flavor.

One of the most important parts of brewing ingredients is the yeast. In brewing, yeast, which is a single-celled fungus, consumes the malt sugars and produces alcohol and CO2.

Brewing beer is a long process and takes a lot of patience and precision. Most brewing recipes follow a pretty standard procedure. To make it simple: You’ll pour water into a large pot and heat it to 160 degrees or so. You’ll then put the grains in a grain bag and tie it off, drop the bag into the water to steep it for about twenty minutes.

Once the steeping is finished, you’ll bring the pot to a low boil and add the malt extract (usually a brown liquid) and the hops. This will be on a low boil for about an hour and you’ll need to stir it regularly. When the hour is almost up, that’s when you’ll drop the finishing hops into the mix. Once it’s finished boiling (at this point in time, the mixture is called “wort”), you’ll need to cool it down to 70 degrees. At this point, you’ll add the yeast to the mix.

Then you wait for the fermentation process to kick in. Usually, you’ll wait for roughly two weeks. After two weeks, viola! You’ll have your very own brew.

This is just a summary of the process you’ll go through when you brew at home, but it gives you a general idea of what you’ll be doing and how long it will take. We hope you use some of your spare time to brew at home, and maybe you’ll be the next brewer to make it big in San Diego.

Lauren lives in OB with her French bulldog, Elvis Presley. She loves laughter and the great outdoors. You can contact her at [email protected].

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