I’m already homebrewing and have been for three years now, it’s been said before but I’ll say it again, it’s great fun! I also know people keen to have a go this year and have read others declare their interest. While reading the Beermerchants Beer Blog post ‘2012’ I found myself nodding along at each of the thirteen points, but three of them stood out for me (four if you include Number 2; ‘getting rid of the High Strength Beer Duty‘).
So here are the three, no doubt intended to be applied in general, but they do work well when just considering homebrewing.
Number 9: ‘Homebrew’
Do it. It’s the best thing ever. If you love beer, great food and find cooking easy. And, have good cleaning routines… DO IT! You’ll take a greater appreciation for the beers that you drink in the pub, or buy from beermerchants.com, than from any book, blog or tweet. Remember, support your local homebrew shop.
He speaketh the truth! You can make it what you want it to be, a few brews a year just to have a go or a few brews a month to really take steps forward. Either way, and from personal experience, you get so much back. It can provide purpose to your reading about the drink you love and maybe offering you a much needed side-step from your well-thumbed copy of ‘1001 beers to drink before you die’ [other books are available]. I have three brewing books on the go, as well as some general readers from the great and good of the beersphere. As the Beermerchants blog points out, it can enhance your appreciation of the beers you drink. Some of you may know it all already, but I for one have benefited from having some insight into the science, ingredients and process of brewing, albeit on a 5 gallon scale. Regardless of the scale, the principles remain the same.
Number 11: ‘Play well with others’.
Number 13: ‘Have fun‘.
I think the last and maybe most important by-products of homebrewing (sorry for calling you all by-products) is the network of people available to you. I’ve found that there is plenty of cross-over between the drinking, blogging, homebrewing and commercial brewing specialists, but I’ve seen how these networks link together and provide a playground for learning through debating and sharing.. it can at times be an unweildy mess of short, medium and long term spats which inevitably form as rock meets hardplace and chalk meets cheese, but it’s all good clean fun.
So what do you need to know? very little, and before you buy any books, find a homebrewing forum that suits your needs, there are loads out there and can save you a lot of time and money if you ask the right questions. This will most likely inform the books you buy (maybe one good reference book for beginners) and the kit you buy or maybe even build of you’re that way inclined. From there in on in, it’s up to you, either go for it solo or try and get a brew day with another homebrewer. If you don’t happen to know any, there is the option of locating someone on the brewing forums (I did this and lived to tell the tale!). There are also a number of informative brewing blogs out there, with helpful how-to-guides as well as tried and tested recipes.
The best piece of advice I’ve received during 2011 was from a commercial brewer local to West Yorkshire, who cut to the chase and said “Just F*cking Brew It“.
Finally, and staying in line with the beermerchants mantra, “support your local homebrew shop“. This is something I have failed to do so far. Busy lives mean that we will look for the most convenient route and there are also times when your local shop don’t stock what you are looking for. I did visit my local homebrew shop yesterday Barley Bottom and to my surprise, Paul has started a one barrel brewery, going by the same name as his shop. The brewery is on-site and I’m going back to join him for a brew day soon. He is a homebrewer of over 10 years and look where it has got him. Poor sod.
A few dates for the Yorkshire and UK based readers:
Leeds Homebrew – 12th January 2012 @MrFoleys
Northern Craft Brewers English IPA competition – 31st March 2012 @SaltaireBrewery
UK National Homebrew Competition – last entries 7th September 2012