Home Brewing Basics

When I began home brewing, which must have been about 4 or 5 years ago now. I tried to find good websites for advice, supplies etc. This took me quite a while. So I decided that now I will post anything that I find good or useful on this website. Hopefully this will be of help to others. I also want to use this website a place for me to refer back to for information when I need it.

I have mainly found information from homebrew forums. Jim’s Beer Kit and The Homebrew Forum are the best ones that I’ve found. Quite often someone has already asked a question that you wanted to ask on these forums.

When I tell people that I like to make my own homebrew they often seem to have preconceived ideas about what homebrew is. I remember myself when I was younger and I had some of my friends dads home-brewed beer and that nearly put me off for life. He had made a cheap beer kit, adding a kilo of sugar as per the instructions. It tasted thin and twangy, more like cider than been.

The beer kits nowadays are so much better than they used to be. You can also make some easy adaptations to the instructions you are given on the side of the tin. This will give you much more satisfying results for little extra effort. If you just want to make beer as cheaply as possible then it will not come out very nice. If you spend a few pounds more you will be able to make beer that you are proud of and that rivals the beers available in the shops.

I made my first batch of beer exactly to the instructions that were provided with the kit. It turned out pretty horrible. I’m still learning myself and I’m far from being an expert but I’ll tell you how you can improve on the basic kit with minimum effort. That way you are more likely to actually enjoy drinking the beer that you produce and find out how addictive this hobby can become.

 

The Basics:

Most people when they first start home brewing will use a `beer kit’.  I’d say that this is probably the best way to start out. All you need to do is to add the contents of the tin with the specified amount of water and 1kg sugar. Then just add the yeast supplied with the kit and leave it to ferment for a couple of weeks before bottling the beer. When you bottle the beer you add a little bit more sugar to the bottles prior to capping them. This will carbonate the beer.

Even though you are just starting out and getting used to the processes of home brewing. I would recommend not adding the 1kg of sugar as suggested on the side of the can. No real brewery would add that amount of sugar to a beer. They only say that on the kits because it is the cheapest way to do it. But the results of doing it this way are likely to disappoint you and will probably put you off brewing your own beer again. Your beer will be thin and have no head. If you can get some, add 1kg of Coopers Brew Enhancer. This will make a better beer. Or you could add 1kg of Dry Malt Extract. Either of these will make a nicer beer than by just adding 1kg of sugar. It costs slightly more money but the results will be worth it. Like I say. If you just buy all your ingredients on price alone then I think you will be disappointed the the results.

I would recommend using a good quality kit to begin with such as one of the Thomas Coopers kits. My favourite one is the Thomas Coopers Pale Ale kit. Coopers have other varieties that are also good. Their European lager kit comes out nice too. Another kit I can recommend is the St. Peters Ruby Red Ale. It is a two can kit meaning that you don’t need to add extra sugar. You just get two cans of pre-hopped malt in the kit and a little hop sachet to add. This gives it a lovely aroma. I’d say it was my favourite kit that I’ve made to date.You should be able to pick that one up for about £22.

 

Recommended Suppliers:

Not that it’s much use for beginners wanting to brew a kit. They don’t sell kits etc here. Mostly just hops and grain. But they have good prices for hops and grain. So remember them for the future. You can order up to 32kg for £7.50 postage. So if you buy in bulk it’s a great deal. Worcester Hop Shop .

My local homebrew shop is The Home Brew Shop . They are based in Aldershot. If shopping with them online you need to spend over £65 to get free postage. I have always found them to be very reliable. My orders have always arrived fast and in good condition. I’d recommend them. They’ve been going for years so they must be doing something right.

The only online homebrew shop that I have not been happy with is `The Online Homebrew Company’ AKA `Brew It Yourself’. I was not at all happy with their service. It took over a month for my things to be delivered. Whenever I looked at my order details on their website the details would change. One item would be in stock one day, then out of stock the next day, then out for delivery, then out of stock again. Then a different item would become out of stock. I wasn’t told that any items were out of stock when I placed my order. Very annoying. It is next to impossible to contact them as well, they don’t have an e-mail address or phone number, just online help, which i found useless for making a complaint or cancelling my order. They have lost my future business that’s for sure. I also know that they have been bullying the main homebrew forums into removing just the negative comments about them or they will take legal action. These are just my opinions about them but I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone.
When I started out I bought a complete beginners starter kit from an online homebrew shop. That is what I’d recommend doing to get you started. Or go to your local homebrew shop if you have one nearby. Buying your kit from a homebrew shop will have the advantage that they usually have bigginers kits that include all you will need to get you started. I suppose another alternative would be to go to car boot sales or anywhere you might be able to pick things up second-hand such as the Free Adds, E-bay or charity shops.