Welcome to Brewing 101

Brewing isn't just for the pros. You can do it too!

An Introduction

Let's start with a quick intro to brewing beer

Brewing, in some form or other, has been around for thousands of years, with evidence of recipes dating back nearly as far as 2000BC.

Beer quickly became the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world, with currently around 2 billion hectolitres being brewed worldwide, per year. Craft breweries, synonymous with innovation in flavours and often higher percentage beers are starting to take more of the market. The definition of craft beer is about as cloudy as the heaviest dry hopped beer, but our take on it is that a craft beer is one which is crafted, rather than simply produced.  With quality and individuality, the main driving forces, rather than cost and efficiency.

As home brewers we are even less constrained, for us a good beer can be anything that we enjoy, and we don’t have to cater to other people’s tastes. We can experiment with flavours and techniques on a level that just isn’t possible in commercial volumes and this can give us a real advantage.

We want everyone to enjoy making beer, so let’s get started with a quick guide on the basics, to get you up and brewing in no time.

What’s important to know is that everyone can enjoy making beer, whether you’re a long-standing beer lover or looking to start a new hobby.
Here’s a quick guide to walk you through the basics of brewing.

1. Ingredients

Malt

These are grains which have a naturally high starch content and starch is required for the formation of sugar and the eventual production of alcohol, most commonly barley and wheat.

Hops

Hops provide a flavour and aroma to the beer which people enjoy. In most brewing situations, some number of hops are boiled in wort for 1-2 hours, and it is during this time that the ‘alpha acids’ provide the main bitter element of beer.

Yeast

Yeast is the most important element of brewing, converting sugar to alcohol. Most yeast manufacturers indicate the ‘style’ of beer the yeast is most suited to, in order help you in the beginning.

Water

Pure, clean water is essential. Water makes up more than 85% of your beer so its quality will ensure you make a great beer. With the correct knowledge and adjustments, water can be the difference in turning a great beer into an amazing beer!

2. Equipment

Brewing at home can be made a lot easier when you have the right gear and tools. With a whole range of brewing systems and accessories on the market, it can get a little confusing for someone new to the hobby. 

While systems like the Grainfather have been created to make the hobby more accessible to everyone by combining multiple pieces of the equipment listed below into a single cohesive device, the essential bits of gear you will need to acquire to begin brewing are based on the same fundamentals.

Brew Kettle

A brew kettle is used to boil wort during the wort-creation process. Because of the nature of the process this piece of equipment is used for, we recommend choosing a high-quality product here, especially one made from 304 stainless steel, which will prove its value over time and last for years.

Mash Tun

If you are proceeding to all-grain brewing from extract, then you may also need to get your hands on a mash tun for the additional mashing process. While many systems including the Grainfather combine both the kettle and the mash tun into a single piece, it is possible to use a separate mash tun from your kettle.

Fermenter

A critical piece of equipment for any brewer, a fermenter is crucial to the brewing process where the wort takes on its alchoholic content.

Accessories

There are a few ‘must haves’ in the accessories department as well as a few highly recommended pieces:

3. Process

Here is a breakdown of the basic parts of the brewing process and while there is much to learn, this starting point will get you started brewing in no time!

Sanitising

There are only 3 rules in brewing. Sanitise, sanitise and sanitise! Although not the most enjoyable part of brewing, the importance of thoroughly sanitising your equipment cannot be stressed enough. The last thing a brewer wants is a batch of beer ruined by avoidable contamination.

Mashing

Mashing refers to the process where enzymes in the grain convert complex starches into simple fermentable sugars. Using a ‘Mash Tun’ the grains and water are heated in a controlled manner usually between 65°C – 68°C (149°C – 154°F).

Wort Boiling

Boiling contributes significantly to the final wort composition, which in turn controls many of the factors in flavour, body and palate fullness of the final beer.

Fermentation

During this ‘primary fermentation’ yeast is converting sugar in the wort to alcohol and CO2 but there are also important flavour compounds being created at this stage.

Kegging and Bottling

When it comes to packaging your beer at the end of the process there are several options available to homebrewers. The most popular of these choices is bottling or kegging.

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