Thursday, 10 October 2013

Part 1: An Expected Journey...

Hello there! I suspect there won't be many people reading this, but I figured writing a blog to regurgitate the things I have learnt in a pixel form would help all this information stick in my addled mind. So let me begin...

I enjoy beer (I mean what kind of weirdo doesn't?), but I'm in no way a beer expert, I like what I like without any pretention. However, I had never considered brewing my own tipple, surely you'd need a laboratory and scientists to produce something tasty and none toxic to human beings? Well, after a bit of research I realised it's actually possible to create beer with lo-fi kit that are near the quality of the ones I enjoy in my favourite drinking haunts, after all, this is how a lot of my fave brewers started life. A primordial brew of ideas and passion leading to the birth of a beer, what could be more beautiful? That passion has now got its hooks in me and I want to go beyond being just a drinker of fine ales, but to producing my own beer that I enjoy, and hopefully other people too!

The Homebrew Handbook
in my hand.
Before embarking on any ventures of this sort it's obviously wise to do your research. I read many a blog, forum posts and followed top micro-brewers on Twitter; wringing what information I could out of their daft tweets. I bought a book - The Homebrew Handbook by Dave Law and Beshlie Grimes, which I found very informative and will no doubt be useful in the coming months with its "75 recipes for the aspiring backyard brewer". With terminology and methods now etched in my brain I now had an idea of what was involved...I was ready for phase one, buying some kit.

The kit, minus loads of
empty bottles.
So I scouted around the web for a home brew starter kit, which wasn't a difficult task, there are loads of the damn things out there! Regardless of the branding they all pretty much contain the same equipment, so it was just a case of picking one up for a decent price. I went with a starter from the folk at Home Brew Online for the grand total of £58.95, which included everything you could possibly need, with the exception of a heating device, and with winter fast approaching I threw in a heating belt for good measure. As for the beer kit itself, I went with an Export Stout from Simply, I'm enjoying my dark ales at the moment (probably a bit too much!) and thought this would be a good starting point. It comes in a pouch (a bit like a packet of Uncle Ben's Microwave rice) instead of the traditional can, which according to the blurb is cold filled with the malt extract which should produce a fresher tasting beer. Not knowing any different, it sounded all good to me. Alright purists, so this isn't "proper" beer brewing, but I wanted to get my head around the equipment involved at this stage of the brew process before moving on to creating my own concoctions.
Anyway, after many failed delivery attempts, I eventually got my grubby mitts on the equipment, and to mark it being my first brew kit it was named Alphatron 1.0 (can you tell I'm a geek?). The wife didn't like this name so it has since been nicknamed "Alfie". Time to get my hands dirty, onwards to phase 2...