Homebrewing 101 - Part 1: Preparation

Preparing to Begin Homebrewing

Alexander Graham Bell once said “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” and we here at Grape and Granary believe that to be true. Homebrewing is an adventure like any other. If you are prepared for the task at hand you will succeed. It’s not rocket science, but if you do not prepare for homebrewing adequately, you can’t expect to make a good beer. That’s where we come in. The goal of our Homebrewing 101 series is to provide you with the information and supplies that you need to successfully begin homebrewing.

Homebrewing Equipment Needed

It will come as no surprise that you need some specific equipment to begin homebrewing. Grape and Granary carries everything that you will need from the beginning of the homebrewing process all the way until that glorious moment where you are drinking beer you have made yourself. Below are the pieces of equipment that you will need to successfully begin brewing your own beer:

Grape and Granary also offers complete homebrewing equipment packages for newcomers to the homebrewing experience. These kits contain all the necessary pieces of equipment to begin brewing.

Homebrewing Ingredients Needed

There are four main ingredients that are needed to begin homebrewing. These ingredients are hops, malt, yeast, and water. While there are only a small number of ingredients to the brewing process, these ingredients have an extremely large amount of variety within themselves. These same simple ingredients are used to produce all styles of beer. From hoppy American style IPAs to dark stouts, summer wheats and Pilsners, and whatever else your taste buds desire. There are recipes that will require additional ingredients as well but those can be taken on a per recipe basis. The most common additional ingredients include sugars, spices, and specialty grains. Let’s dive into what exactly these ingredients do in the brewing process.

Homebrewing Ingredients - Hops

Hops are cone shaped flowers used in brewing today. While historically a number of other plants were used for brewing, hops are almost exclusively used now. Hops serve many purposes in the brewing process, and are the ‘spice’ of a good brew. Hops are used to add bitterness to beer, balancing out the sweet malt flavors and offering a more balanced drink. Hops also act as a stabilizing agent and help prevent spoilage. Hops improve the head retention and act as a natural clarifier. Finally, hops can also add aroma and flavor to the brew when added late in the boiling process.

Homebrewing Ingredients - Malt

Malted barley is the backbone of beer. Barley provides the base flavors in beer and determines the color and the alcohol content. Beer is brewed by the process of fermenting sugars derived from malted barley or other cereal grains.

Advanced brewers will often go through the process of mashing grains themselves (steeping the barley in hot water to convert the starch found in barley into fermentable sugar). However new brewers do not need to take this step as malt extracts are available in both liquid or dry form. These extracts are the result of the mashing process and the sugars are packaged and saved for later use. The creators of these extracts will also use specialty grains to provide brewers with a variety of flavor and color options in their homebrews.

Homebrewing Ingredients - Yeast

Yeast is a type of fungus. Yeast is used to ferment (or convert) the sugar derived from malted barley into alcohol, carbon dioxide and the flavors we know as beer. This process is known as fermentation. Yeast is used in all manners of alcohol production including winemaking, mead making, and cider making. Brewing yeast can be classified as either ale yeast or lager yeast. Ale yeast thrives better at warmer temperatures (60-70 degrees F.) and produces a beer with more aroma and complexity. Lager yeast ferments at cooler temperatures (48-58 degrees F.) and produces a beer with more neutral fermentation characteristics.

That’s all for Part 1 - Click Here for Homebrewing 101 - Part 2