From buying the right equipment, to developing recipes to actually brewing the beer, our team takes you though the entire process of homebrewing
Favorite bars and taprooms closed? Local brewery not offering a drive-through for cans and crowlers? Way, way too much time on your hands these days?
Perhaps it’s time to consider, or rediscover, the joy of homebrewing. Homebrewing combines the creativity of crafting your own brew with the satisfaction that you made it all by yourself. Plus there’s a certain magic in watching yeast turn a murky sludge of water, grain and hops into a clear, tasty beverage that you can get buzzed off of.
In 1999, Learn To Homebrew Day was established by the American Homebrewers Association to promote the most rewarding, and delicious activity of all time — homebrewing. This is what is written on the AHA’s website about this event. It is a day that many homebrewers the world around have come to their local homebrew stores or friends or even the internet to learn the hobby that you can literally drink to!
Recently dubbed the “beer capital of America,” Chicago will soon welcome an entirely new brewing concept to the city. Pilot Project Brewing will be Chicago’s first formal brewing incubator – a space for experimentation and collaboration.
Set to open by early summer at 2140 N. Milwaukee Ave., Pilot Project introduces the city to the incubation concept, adopted at brewing spaces across the country such as Rocky Mount Mills and Labrewatory. All who brew are welcome at Pilot Project, from amateur homebrewers looking to kickstart a professional career, to existing breweries in search of an outlet for experimenting with flavors, styles, and peers.
If you’ve been paying attention to the Gourmet YouTube scene, many classic publications are rejuvenating themselves through spectacular new digital content series. Bon Appétit has been pushing forward with glorious junk food recreations in “Gourmet Makes” and fermentation experimentation in “It’s Alive With Brad.” America’s Test Kitchen has transitioned to online magnificently through highly informative videos on products and cooking techniques. But the series that’s been most interest in terms of flavor analysis is “Price Points” by recipe index Epicurious.
The number one thing you will learn as a brewer is that there is always room to improve. Even the most professional people in the business know this. The very first beer I ever brewed was an amber ale that somehow surpassed all expectation by getting infected and tasting like sour lemons. There’s no shame in admitting it because everyone has gone through a similar, baffling situation in their first year of brewing.
Thanks to criticism from professional judges, I’ve found out what has been the bane of my brewing existence since I moved to a new apartment. Three of my beers were found to have medicinal off-flavors, resulting in band-aid/astringent tasting bottles. This type of problem can occur due to over-crushing grains or yeast contamination, but I was convinced it was a problem with the water. These reasons are why I constantly advise brewers to learn about the chemicals in your water source (using a system like Ward Lab) or by talking out the issue with other local homebrewers. Using the Brewer’s Friend Water Chemistry Calculator is a good way to figure out what needs to be added to accommodate your beer recipe.
The adventurous spirit of the brewer gives life to the craft beer industry. From humble beginnings creating experimental homebrews to large scale operations, the way styles and ingredients revolutionize our palates is nothing short of incredible. That’s what gave me a real appreciation for Scratch Brewing Company whose philosophy of forage-to-keg brewing really tests what beer is capable of. I had to own their book “The Homebrewer’s Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to Making Your Own Beer From Scratch” after our fellow PorchDrinking writer David Nilsen covered it in loving detail.
Homebrewers are driven by the desire to make new recipes. Usually when we recreate an old recipe, we try to improve on past mistakes or change ingredients to make a better product. This is the one beer recipe I’ve made more than once thanks to it’s quality. I present to you my award-winning Top of the Morning Cream Ale!
The Homebrewer’s Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to Making Your Own Beer from Scratch (Countryman Press, 2016) by Marika Josephson, Aaron Kleidon and Ryan Tockstein
The folks at Scratch Brewing Co. are connected to the land around their brewery in ways few other brewers can boast. Secluded in the woods near Ava in southern Illinois, the Scratch gang doesn’t just use local malt and hops, they pull the ingredients that make their beers so unique from the terrain of the surrounding forest. Tree bark, leaves, mushrooms, berries, nuts, flowers, even plants many of us have been trained to think of as weeds—it’s all fair game for brewers Aaron Kleidon and Marika Josephson. Consequently, their beers have a quality of place—terroir, to use the fancy parlance—few other brews have.
ABV: 6.1 | IBU: 40
For any serious homebrewer, the ultimate dream is for one of their recipes to ultimately reach out to audiences beyond their immediate reach. Starr Hill Brewing, located in Crozet, Virginia, has made that dream a reality when recreating the Vernal Equinox English IPA.
ABV: 6.1 | IBU: 28 | OG: 1.057
When I was a greenhorn to the craft beer scene; I became the guy at beer shares who would bring accouterments in the form of fancy cheeses and cucumber/lime water. The flavored water ultimately served as the ultimate palate cleanser for event guests seeking to brush their weary tongues after too many barleywines and imperial stouts. Some people would even tell me they would come to a beer share or my homebrew club hearing cucumber/lime water would be there. Emerald Splash Cucumber Lime Saison is the result of people asking me to elevate that beverage to the next level.
Everybody needs a smooth, quenchable beer for any occasion no matter what time of year. Winter is a time for heavy, sweet bombs but not everyone can sit down next to the fireplace with a chalice every day of the week. Yet the temperature outside never slows down the innovation of the homebrewer. So as we trade in our lawnmower beers for snow-shoveling stouts, here’s drinkable porter that will warm you up in no time.
I know right now you’ve read the title and instantly assumed I am counter to everything that is right in the world. You are all chanting your fall mantras, “the spice expands consciousness, the spice is life and who controls the spice controls fall.” But I for one cannot take any more overly sweet, acrid, or overly spiced pumpkin beers. I think the problem is the gourd itself. Pumpkin, at least to the brewing process, primarily bring nothing but starches and very minor sweetness to the party. This inherently pushes the spices to the front and leaves nothing but the harsh wash of cinnamon on the palette. Enter the contender! Apple brings much more than pumpkin in the way of sweetness aroma, fall character, and a lasting drinkability that fits not just for early fall but all the way through Thanksgiving and into early December. A balanced apple pie presence to amplify an amber caramel and malt forward beer style is a match made in heaven.
Every year, more and more sinners are born.
They are conceived in the darkest part of hell, raised by the devil himself, and born into our world loving that which is most foul: Pumpkin Beer.
Picture this, fellow beer lovers: you are at a brewery and one of the beers is touted as a medal winner from the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) or World Beer Cup (WBC). You order the beer; anticipated to fill it up in a growler to share with your buddies. After a lengthy sniff and thorough gulp, you realize that it’s good, maybe great, but not something you’d quite define as “award-winner.” Then you pull out your phone to cross-reference ratings and opinions through RateBeer, Beer Advocate, Untappd, etc…
It’s that time of year again, when brewers start brewing harvest beers. No, it’s not pumpkin season. It’s hop season!
While pumpkin beers are brewed earlier and earlier every year… and I have already seen a few Oktoberfest beers, I refuse to buy either until I brew a wet hop beer. It has become a tradition for me since I was first introduced to the idea of wet hopping a beer at Voss Farms in 2013.
Homebrewing isn’t just a hobby; it’s an art form defined by our country’s do-it-yourself spirit through combining dedicated scientific research and passionate culinary engineering. According to the American Homebrewers Association, there are approximately 1.2 million homebrewers in the United States after every state had legalized the act in 2013. Just as craft beer opens you up to whole new world of flavors, there’s infinite number of possibilities when you realize what you can make with your first homebrewing kit. And as you ignite this new exciting hobby, you really start to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into the industry as a whole.
Image from Eckraus.com.
She looks at him and raises the bottle to her lips. After taking a sip, she slowly lowers the beer in disbelief.
“You brewed this?” she asks.
“I did.” he replies with a grin. She sets the beer down and moves closer to him. He grabs her by the waist and they embrace in a passionate kiss.
“Shit!” I exclaim as the water overflows and my daydreaming fades away.
I sanitize the last bottle and place it on my bottling tree to dry. I’m almost ready to bottle two cases. I have already spent an hour preparing everything. My back hurts, my fingers are pruned, and I smell. Cleaning sucks. It’s not sexy, or romantic, or even mildly entertaining. It’s work.
Raise a glass, drink a beer, and kiss, it’s National Homebrew Day! I know that sounds odd, so let me explain.
In 1988, Congress declared May 7 as National Homebrew Day. So to celebrate, homebrewers from around the world get together every …
I remember my first beer. I dumped it down the drain.
I brewed my first beer as a way to deal with something extremely personal. Growing up in Aurora and becoming involved in the aftermath of the theatre shooting, I needed …