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September 30, 2013 | by  | in Features |
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Home Brew Crew

Rapidly earning its name as New Zealand’s craft-beer capital, Wellington has seen a number of homebrew ventures turn into lucrative craft-brewing labels and breweries as of late. Get amongst the best and brew your own!
 
Everyone has tried someone’s homebrew at some point. That may have been your dear old dad’s, or one of your good mate’s from Uni. It may have even been good! Because making beer at home is easy, anyone can do it. Set aside a few hundred bucks and a bit of time over summer and get into it!

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GETTING STARTED

The easiest way to start is to buy a classic starter kit. These normally cost you around a hundred bucks from your local homebrew store, and include a fermenting bucket with taps and an airlock, a big stirring spoon, and a hydrometer, as well as various other items. The advantage of these is that it makes it easy to start by including all of the equipment you need to make the most basic beer possible from a can of hopped malt extract and a packet of yeast. The disadvantage of this is that making beer from a can of hopped malt extract can result in a beer so bad that it can put people off continuing what is a super-rewarding hobby.

Your First Homebrew:

– Chuck 2 L of boiling water in your fermenting bucket

– Add your can of malt extract

– Top up to your desired amount (23 L is standard)

– Sprinkle dried yeast on top

– Put lid on with airlock in and wait for 2 weeks before bottling

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INCREASING COMPLEXITY

The next step up from this is to begin what is called ‘extract brewing’, which essentially means taking unhopped malt extract and boiling it for an hour with multiple additions of hops. This gives you a lot more freedom to be creative by creating your own recipes, choosing different types of hops and fermenting with specialised yeasts. Basically the only extra equipment you need for this is a big pot. You may be tempted to buy a smaller one (around 20 litres), but if you are planning on getting into homebrewing more, I recommend getting a 40-litre one, as this will allow you to take the next step up more easily.

Extract Brewing:

– Take your pot and fill up to 25-litre mark with water

– Add can (or cans) of malt extract and bring to boil

– Once boiling and foam has dissipated, add your first addition of hops (start your timer—60-minute countdown)

– Generally add two more additions (when there’s 20 minutes and 5 minutes to go)

– Bring to a cool temperature (20 °C)

– Add yeast (liquid or dehydrated)

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THE REAL DEAL (ALL-GRAIN LIKE THE PROS)

All-grain at home is essentially a scaled-down version of how beer is made at the brewery. The extra equipment you will need for this is a mash tun. With all-grain brewing, you soak the malted barley at between 65 and 70 °C for roughly an hour. This process gives you what is known as wort (pronounced wert), which you then boil and add hops to in the same way you do with extract brewing. To do this, you need a vessel that will hold enough liquid and handle the heat. The easiest way to do this is to buy a second-hand chilly bin (Trade Me is your friend) and build a manifold with plumbing parts from Bunnings or Mitre 10 which allows the liquid to be filtered from the grain to then be boiled. You can find plenty of instruction on this on the internet by searching “building a mash tun manifold”.

Another very handy piece of equipment to have is a wort chiller or heat converter, but you can definitely get by without it in the beginning by cooling your wort in the bath or just leaving to cool overnight with few issues. You can make copper immersion chillers relatively cheaply, or maybe if you’ve got cash to burn, you’ll shell out for a sweet plate chiller.

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This gives you a very basic rundown on the equipment needed to brew beer at home, but skims over the process of making beer. For more detailed instructions, I would highly recommend reading How to Brew by John Palmer. You can read the first edition free on his website, and it is an amazing resource for understanding the basics as well as delving into some more complex aspects of the brewing process. But basically, dive into it, make some beer, drink some beer, share some beer, make some more beer, and then drink some more beer and so on and so forth. Cheers!

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