Talk the Talk? Walk the Walk? Irish Beer Snob tries his hand at homebrew part 1

Those who know me, or those who’ve met me know, I love a good old natter. I’m also something of a procrastinator, i’ve talked about starting home brew now for a long time. Idly wasted time browsing the various online shops, forums, talked to people, while never actually committing. 

This all changed, I asked my family to buy me vouchers for an Online Brew Store, The Home Brew Company was the place I asked them to go to, and low and behold at Christmas I was very grateful that I got a nice sum of vouchers to get me started. I also get 5% off as a Beoir member (another reason to join – link is —–> that way) and free delivery on purchases over €65

One of the things I love about the craft beer scene is that sense of community and that i’m glad to say flows over to the Homebrew fraternity too. After all most craft brewers start out making their own beers before graduating on to a bigger kit. 

I’ve started to chronicle my brew on National Homebrew Club’s Forum (Link here) where as you can see people are lining up to help.

So why homebrew? Well as I like to cook, I also like craft beer, Duh, I figured it was a logical step to brew my own.

I’m starting with “Kit” so that basically means i’m buying concetrated brewers wort, adding water, and other fermentables to make a beer. From there its mixed with sugar to carbonate and left in bottles to condition and improve over time.

The next steps, will eventually to move to extract, and all grain brewing, but as the saying goes, you need to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run. 

The Equipment (This is what I got)
2 x 33 Ltr Food Grade Plastic Fermenters
Taps on Both
Airlock and Bung for 1
Syphon with Bottling Stick
Hyrdometer with trial jar
Thermometer (Both spirit one, and those LCD Aquarium ones)
Bottle Caps / Bottle Capper
Bottle Brush

I chose a Coopers English Style Bitter kit to start, and on advice of countless people, replaced the recipe calling for 1kg of sugar, with 1kg of Dry Malt Extract, and 200g of Sugar to bump up ABV.

I will dry hop with cascade, or summit, but more on that in Part 2

Anyway, one thing that is critical to a good brew is sanitisation, basically anything that will come into contact with the beer needs to be sanitized. I used a mix of 30ml white spirit vinegar mixed with 20l of water and a further 30ml of thin unscented bleach. This is a no rinse sanitiser which as you guess means you can leave it in there. I put everything in to sterilise. Like so

                 (L-R Sterilise,                 Drain Fermenter             Adding Dry Malt Extract)

So you also need a reliable kettle for boiling water, a can opener and scissors. When everything is soaking, you will let your can of extract sit in hot/off the boil water to soften the extract inside. With the Dry Malt Extract you should swirl it in 2l of off the boil water and add any other fermentables eg sugar, glucose etc. Like so.

                 (L-R Stir, Stir, Stir           The extract going in        Taking off the lid)

Once you’ve stirred in for a good five to ten minutes, you top off with 20 Litres of cold water, check the temperature at this point and adjust with hot or cold water as you’re aiming for a temp between 18C & 24C approx to pitch your yeast into. Before you do that you take your first hydrometer reading, this is important as it helps you know what your approximate ABV will be. Some rehydrate the yeast however I didn’t this time, I just cut the corner off and sprinkled it evenly over the surface.

Pitching the yeast

Once the yeast is pitched, put the lid on and make sure its locked down and air tight. Move your fermenter to an area where a constant temperature can be maintained, i’ve a snug corner in the living room where the beer can rest comfortably at 20c. As I don’t have a heat belt I improvised and used a blanket. Once its settled attach the airlock and put water in it, the only think that will go through the bubbler is CO2. 

Snug as a bug

So thank you to all the people of National Homebrew Club, and I can’t wait to get this into bottles and move on to my next kit.

For the record my original gravity (OG) was 1.052

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