Tap This: It’s never too late to start making your own beer or perfecting your secret brew
The craft beer boom gave rise to another parallel hobby to drinking beer — making it yourself.
When many drinkers woke their palates to the possibilities of great beer, so were minds to the ability of making great beer at home.
The flavor profiles many craft beers have were inspired by great home-brewing recipes that brewers used to make before going pro. Now many craft beer drinkers turn to home-brewing to make flavors in beer even more in-depth.
Whether you are just starting out in home-brewing or are an expert looking for more advice on brewing this short list has something for you.
Newbie: If you are just looking to get into home-brewing first you will need a starter kit. These kits can range from $70 to $200 or more, depending how involved you want to start out. The best idea is to start with liquid malt extract and get yourself some fermenting and bottling buckets. This will get you started down the right path. You can get kits online from More Beer or Northern Brewer. There are great home-brewing stores throughout Pennsylvania. You will want to pick up some books to break down the process. Some great starter books are: “The Complete Joy of Home-brewing,” “Brewing Classic Styles,” and “Tasting Beer.” These books break down the process, give recipe ideas, and help analyze beer on a more professional level.
Novice: If you have brewed for a while and learned the basic skills, here is more to learn. That is one of the most exciting things about home-brewing, you never stop learning and much like cooking, experimenting is highly recommended! However, before branching out into experimentation, it is best to have a solid handle on the fundamentals. Thankfully the Brewers Association published a slew of great books to have for research. If you are looking to take your brewing to the next level their series on beer ingredients is a must own. They have books dedicated to yeast, hops, malt and water. These books fundamentally break down the ingredients so you know how to maximize each one most effectively to brew world class beers.
Expert: So you have a slew of home-brew competition gold medals hanging on your wall and maybe you are on the cusp of going pro. Don’t stop learning. Some more great books include the “Wood & Beer” from Brewers Association. The book is an examination of how to draw flavors from wood into beer and how to get delicious, barrel-aged beers. If you are thinking of going pro, some great advice can be found from “Beer School,” “Brewing Up A Business,” “So You Want to Start A Brewery?,” and “Quality Management: Essential Planning for Breweries.”
No matter where you fall on the home-brewing spectrum one thing is certain, once you start you can’t go back. The hobby is overwhelmingly fun and endless in possibilities. After hard work you get to enjoy some delicious beer, now that is a truly fun interest.
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.