After years of consuming liquid gold you have decided to take the leap into home-brewing :)
Before you head to the shed and fire up your cauldron take a look at this guide to getting started.
The easiest and most cost effective way to make great tasting craft beer is to use a method that was invented by our friends down under called 'brew in a bag' or BIAB (homebrewers acronym)
Here are the differences between both methods:
The traditional brewing process contains 4 vessels (or pots in lay-mans terms)
BIAB allows you to cut out 2 vessels, AMAZING!! It will save you money and you have less to clean (let's be honest here we all hate cleaning).
So what do you need, how much will it cost and how on earth do you use it?
The main piece of equipment you need is a Burco boiler. What's that I hear you ask?
Remember when you were young and you went to a soccer tournament or a swimming gala or a FEIS (Irish dancing competition)? Remember everyone queueing for tea and custard creams? Well that large stainless steel pot that had a constant supply of hot water is exactly what I'm talking about.
So lets add this to your shopping list
Ok so now that we have our shiny new boiler what else do we need?
Fine mesh bag, just like this one https://www.amazon.co.uk/Home-Brew-BIAB-mash-diameter/dp/B00OX8PLHW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1527577089&sr=8-2&keywords=brew+in+a+bag
This will be used during the mashing process which we will cover in another article.
Star San or Sani Clean
this is needed to make sure everything is sterile, this small bottle is concentrated (just like Mi-Wadi) so it will last you for many many brews.
Mash paddle or a big spoon
Used for mixing the grain with water, just like stirring your porridge in the morning
This is really just a big plastic bucket
After we boil everything we need to cool to 20 degrees as fast as possible (more about this in the brew guide).
It's important to get something that's accurate and fairly durable. I have a thermopen for 3 years now and it has never let me down. It's a bit pricy but better value in the long run.
Hydrometer & Trial Jar - this will help you figure out how much alcohol is in your beer.
Bottle capper & caps
Finally you need to buy some ingredients. The best option is to buy an all grain mash kit from The Home Brew Company. For your first brew I would recommend 'Particular Peters Stout'. This kit will come with all the ingredients that you need to make around 40 delicious pints :)
Dont like stout? Have a look at a bigger selection here:
Okay dokey so now that you have everything that you need, lets get cracking.... here is a link to your first all grain BIAB brew day :)
Mangrove Jack's Craft Series Partial Mash Kit - American Pale Ale
by JB Flannery
Although my previous attempt at a gluten free beer gave good results, it was a tad complicated for a brewling such as me. I decided to buy a partial mash kit from my local home brew shop to see if it would make for a less laborious brew and potentially, a better overall beer: the mangrove jacks American Pale Ale. Apparently, this would allow me to build a beer with a more complex flavour profiles and with the addition of Clarity ferm, could yield a very tasty gluten free beer.
As before (due to very hard water) I decided to use 'Ashbeck' water from Tesco for this brew.
Mangrove Jack’s Craft Series American Pale Ale:
I filled my kettle with 11L of water and aimed for a temperature to 70°C.
I filled the grain bag and added this to the kettle and reduced the temperature on the kettle to achieve a temperature of 65°C for the mash.
This temperature was maintained for 30 minutes following which i removed the grain bag and allowed it to drip dry into the kettle.
I increased the temperature of the kettle to achieve a boil then added the malt extract to the kettle whilst stirring and increased the temperature of the kettle to achieve a boil.
Once the boil occurred, I added the bittering hops- thankfully no boil over happened during the hot break.
The total boil time was 60 minutes and involved hop additions throughout. At 45 minutes I placed my wort chiller to sterilise. Five minutes later I added the dextrose. The aroma hops were added at “flame out” (when I turned the kettle off).
Once the temperature dropped to <40°C I siphoned this into a sanitised fermentation bucket.
I added enough water to bring the volume to 23L and recorded the temperature (which was 22°C).
I added my yeast (without hydration!!!!) and sealed the lid followed by the insertion of the airlock (filled with cheap high-proof alcohol).
I allowed this to ferment for 2 weeks until the gravity settled at 1.014 (the kit stated a final gravity of 1.015).
The clarity ferm seemed to drop the solids out of suspension as I was left with a very compact cake and very little trub was carried over.
I batch primed the bottles and left them to condition for 1 week.
This beer turned out very, very well. It was easy to make and is something that will undoubtedly be a family favourite. Most importantly (for me) my gluten intolerant wife can happily drink this beer without illness.
GLUTEN FREE AMBER ALE by JB Flannery
This was my first attempt at brewing and I decided to attempt a gluten-free beer since my wife is coeliac. I read a number of different recipes (using imperial measurement frustratingly) and managed to amalgamate a few of these. The process was fairly straightforward and the bottles took 12 days to achieve sufficient carbonation. There is a different, almost metallic taste from the sorghum base, but I don’t mind it a whole lot. More importantly, my wife is a big fan of this beer and is fully supportive of my newfound hobby. In time, I will adapt this recipe to try and improve things (mainly reducing the sorghum metallic taste) but for now I’ve a beer which my wife is very happy with.
Kettle: 30l cygnet (Amazon.co.uk)
Wort chiller: homemade 10mm copper double coil (Screwfix)
Fermentation bucket with tap (Home Brew Store)
Autospihon (Home Brew Store)
Air lock (Home Brew Store)
Hydrometer (Home Brew Store)
Pre- brew procedure:
I read online that the grains needed to be roasted. Not fully knowing what was the correct process; I added water to the porridge oats and spread them on a baking tray. I place these into my oven at 175°C for 1 hour (breaking up clumps throughout the bake). I had another tray with the Kasza and wild rice which i roasted on a tray for 45 minutes at 175°C. Once the grains had cooled, I transferred them to a grain bag.
Fill kettle with 12.5l of water and heat to 70°C
Add the grain bag and adjust temperature to maintain 68°C
Leave the grain bag in the water for 30 minutes, remove and allow to drip-drain into kettle.
Add 12.5l of water to the kettle and bring the wort to the boil.
Once the wort has reached a boil, turn off the heat and add the candi sugar and molasses and mix well.
When you are happy that the sugars have been dissolved, return the wort to a boil.
When the wort is boiling, add 21g Chinook hops. (Beware of the hot break)
Continue to boil for 30 minutes and ad 10g Chinook hops. At this stage, place wort chiller into the wort.
Boil for 15 minutes and add the 1.5kg sorghum and 15g fuggles.
Boil for 5 minutes and ass 1 tsp of Irish moss and 3 tbsp cocoa.
Boil for 5 minutes and add 250 g maltodextran.
Boil for a final 5 minutes and then cool the wort.
Once wort has reached 22°C, transfer to the fermentation vessel ensuring that the wort is aerated on its way.
Remove some of the wort and check the specific gravity.
Add 1 pack of the yeast, place the lid on the bucket and insert the airlock.
Fill the airlock with starsan or cheap high-proof alcohol and allow to ferment until the hydrometer readings stabilise over a 3-day period. In my instance, I allowed to ferment for 19 days before bottling.
This is the third time Bongos has brewed this particular stout, using different varieties of yeast each time. His second batch was a true "home" brew as it used hops grown in his own garden! The stout is silky smooth on the palette due to the porridge oats and finishes with some decadent chocolate undertones.
Final Volume: 22.5 Litres
OG: (1.059 for this brew)
HBC American Lager by Johnnie Morris
Im not a big fan of lager but my wife is and to say thanks for giving me 2 days 'kid free' to brew I thought it would be nice to give it a go.
As the water in my area is very hard I decided to use 'Ashbeck' water from Tesco, its really cheap, 12 litres for €2.29, I bought 36 litres for this recipe.
Not 100% sure on the exact breakdown of the ingredients as this kit came from The Home Brew Company and I'm sure they don't want to give away the recipe for obvious reasons.
Ingredients (as far as I know!):
Brewferm Lager Yeast
I filled my HLT with 20.15 litres of Ashbeck water and set my strike temperature to 75c.
I filled the pre heated mash tun with 12.25 litres of water and mixed in the grain.
Mashed at 64c for 90 mins.
I topped up with 7.9 litres of water at 80c, stirred and let sit for 15 mins, transferred to the boiler.
I then added a further 14.2 litres of water at 80c, stirred and let sit for 15 mins, transferred to the boiler.
I boiled for 90 mins adding the hops with 60 mins to go.
With 10 mins to go i added 5g of Irish moss and put in my copper wort chiller.
Cooled to 20c(in hindsight I should have cooled to 15c as this is a lager) and picthed the yeast.
I put this in my new fermentation chamber and set the temperature to 13c.
Particular Peter's Stout by John Morris
This is my 4th time brewing this, its easy enough and doesn't require secondary fermentation. I bought it from here.
70% - 3.5kg Maris Otter Malt
20% - 1kg Flaked Barley
6% - 300g Roasted Barley 300g
4% - 200g Chocolate
I filled my HLT with 20 litres of filtered water and set temperature to 75c.
Filled the mash tun with 13 litres of water and mashed in the grain.
Mashed at 65c for 60 mins.
Added 7 litres of water for 15 mins.
Heated 14 litres to 80 degrees in the HLT.
Transfered the wort to the boiler using a pump.
Added 14 litres of water to the mash tun at 80c for 15 mins.
Transferred the wort to the boiler.
Boiled for 60 mins adding hops at 60 mins and 0 mins.
With 10 mins to go I added 5g of Irish Moss and put in my copper wort chiller.
Cooled to 20c, transferred to the fermenter, pitched the yeast.
OG = 1.048
Fermented at 20c in my fermentation chamber.
Alchol = 4.73%
Bottled with 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Conditioned at 20c for at least 2 weeks.