If you like beer and always think about ways to improve your favorite brands, why not try making your own?
The good news is that crafting beer at home is neither as difficult nor as complicated as it seems. The not-so-good news is that you have to learn a few tricks of the trade before you can make something worth sharing with friends and family.
To give you an idea of how your favorite golden brew is made and how to create your own, we put together a list of things every beginner ought to know. So stay tuned!
Before you begin your own brewing journey, it’s important to know about the ingredients that make classical beer so delicious.
For instance, despite the diverse range of flavors and types available, all beers are based on four key ingredients: malted grains, yeast, water, and hops.
The malted grains (usually barley, although others can be used as well) provide the sugars needed for fermentation. These sugars are essential as they are what yeast will feed on to create alcohol and carbon dioxide – the key factors that transform grains and water into bubbly brews.
The third essential ingredient is water, which makes up a large portion of the beer. Surprisingly enough, its mineral composition greatly influences the final beer profile, so brewers must pay attention to the type of water they’re using.
Last but not least comes hops, which are precious for more than their bittering qualities. Hops also add flavor and aroma to our brews while acting as a natural preservative.
The process of making commercial beer isn’t too far removed from home brewing, but there are a few key differences that provide large-scale operations with distinct flavors and consistent quality.
In short, both home brewing and commercial brewing follow these steps:
- Malting the grains – soak the grains in water and allow them to germinate or sprout which releases enzymes that convert the grain’s starches into fermentable sugars. The grains are then dried and crushed, creating what is known as malt.
- Mashing – steep the malted grains in hot water. This process extracts the sugars and produces wort, which is a sweet liquid that serves as the base for the beer.
- Boiling the wort – boil the wort while adding hops for flavor and aroma. After boiling, it’s essential to cool down this hopped-up mixture quickly before moving forward.
- Fermentation – add the yeast, which will feed on the sugar present in the cooled boiled wort, transforming it into alcohol with CO2 as a bonus by-product.
- Bottling and conditioning – after fermentation completes its magic over a week or two (depending largely on your recipe), it’s time for bottling and conditioning when carbonation fully develops.
When you craft your own beer, you follow the same steps as mentioned above. However, you won’t have the same high-precision equipment and knowledge. But don’t let this discourage you – many homebrewers managed to create impressive craft beers without all the fancy tools used by large breweries.
But every creative journey starts with a spark of inspiration, so we recommend taking a trip through Europe’s most iconic cities when it comes to beer and connecting with local home brewers. Cities like Dublin, Brussels, or Prague have a long beer brewing history, so you will find kindred spirits to help further your knowledge.
You may also learn about special techniques that give your beer extra flavor and character, like dry hopping. However, this process is quite expensive and difficult for a home brewer. But this doesn’t mean your beer will have no character. You just need to learn about hop products that can produce the same taste without all the hassle.
One such product is SPECTRUM, which is a liquid dry hop replacement that can take your beer from zero to amazing in no time. So, make sure to learn more about SPECTRUM’s role in improving hop flavor in beers.
While both types of brewing follow the same steps, commercial breweries have the upper hand due to well-calibrated specialized equipment, devices, and tools. Even more, major breweries tend to have their own malting facilities where they can control every aspect of the malting process to produce a variety of specialized malts.
Commercial breweries also use high-tech equipment for boiling and cooling the wort. During boiling, the special equipment allows for better precision and consistency in hop additions, which plays a crucial role in ensuring identical taste & aroma.
Since large breweries work with huge volumes of liquid, they use heat exchangers to cool large volumes of wort efficiently. This way, they minimize the risk of bacterial infection or off-flavor brewing due to prolonged cooling periods (which are real concerns when dealing with such volumes).
Lastly, commercial breweries have carefully controlled conditions tuned into favoring specific yeast strains, which ensures predictable output essential for commercially consistent brews.
As you can see, brewing your own beer is not a complicated process. You only need a few ingredients (water, malted grains, hops, and yeast), and you can start crafting your own brew. However, you won’t produce high-quality beer on your first try.
Brewing is a lengthy process that needs to be perfect with each new batch. But if you’re truly passionate about beer, you’ll find this journey enjoyable and exciting. So why wait? Start your beer-crafting journey today!