I’ve been thinking of trying my hand at home brewing for years. But I will be honest, I didn’t have a clue of where to start. So I turned to an expert for advice! And who better to talk to than Claire Russell, co-founder of homebrew supply website Home Brewtique After our chat, I can’t wait to get cracking. Hope you enjoy
Can I pretty much home brew any of my favourite beers or is it a little more complex than that?
You can home brew almost any style of beer – aside from some lagers and certain types of sour beers – as long as you have the right ingredients and the right equipment. However, it can be a bit more complex when it comes to replicating specific recipes, as many large-scale brewers are getting pretty clever and creative with their recipes and flavours. Quite a few will employ complicated techniques in order to achieve some of the super-hoppy flavours we are seeing these days and your average small-scale home brew set up is not going to be able to reproduce those techniques without some pretty fancy equipment. For the most part, however, you can brew a huge range of flavours – ranging from wit beers to stouts and porters!
With regards to cost, is home brewing cheaper than just buying my favourite ale in the supermarket?
You are always going to have an element of set up cost when you start home brewing. You can bet and borrow many items to get started cheaply, but in the long run you will want to invest in your own equipment if you want to keep up the hobby. Small batches are a great way to get started as the initial set up cost is much less than a large batch kit (£90 – £130 as compared to £300 – £400).
Once you’re set up, however, the only cost to home brewing is your ingredients which are really pretty cheap – and of course your time.
How complex is it to get going? Do I have to have a chemistry degree to succeed?
The great thing about home brew is you can get started and produce pretty decent beer with no knowledge at all! As long as you follow a good recipe kit (ours are perfect for the complete novice) you can get started, and then you can get as geeky as like with it. Some home brewers like to experiment and control every single element as they get into the hobby, while others prefer to keep brewing by following the directions exactly. As long as its fun and you produce beer that you like, then that’s all that matters.
Does it take a long time to brew? Are there fast and slow methods and does that vary the quality of the end product?
Most styles will take three to four hours to brew, two weeks to ferment and a further two weeks to bottle condition, although there are all sorts of things you can do to speed up the process. Simple tweaks include mashing for a shorter period on brew day, making a yeast starter to speed up fermentation, and forcing carbonating instead of bottle conditioning. Any of these techniques should shorten the process to varying degree and impact on your beer too much!
Personally, I love force carbonated beer, whereas others will swear by bottle conditioning – both are great options, it just depends on what you prefer and how much time you have!
How much space will home brewing take up and will it smell?
Small batch brewing is great because it barely takes up any space. Our fermentor is specially designed to be light-weight and attractively designed so that you can fit it easily in your kitchen or anywhere else in your house!
On brew day, your mash will smell bready and generally pretty pleasant – the only potential ‘smell’ will be during the boil when you add in your hops. It isn’t a problem if you don’t mind the smell of hops though! The fermenting process doesn’t smell unless you lift the lid and take a good whiff, so overall it isn’t too overpowering!
What’s the cost of a basic kit to get started and what would you recommend for the beginner?
If you need all the equipment to get started then our comprehensive kit is a great place to start – it is £120 for everything, including pots, bottles, equipment and your first recipe! If you already have some of the equipment, such as your own pot and bottles, you can tailor your kit to help reduce costs. More information is available here: https://homebrewtique.com/beer-brewing-kit/
What makes your home brew kits unique?
Our kits are designed to make brewing from scratch as easy as possible so that anyone can experience all grain home brewing without having to follow difficult instructions or use bulky equipment. We created a ‘full volume mash’ and a brew-in-a-bag method so that you can make your beer in one large pot on your stove top. Our kits include only the finest quality ingredients which are pre-measure and vacuum sealed for freshness and designed our fermenter to block out light – it is about the size of a small food processor so can easily fit in any size kitchen. The integrated bottling spout on the fermenter means one less messy step and our convenient bottling wand fits straight into the spout. Most importantly, our recipes taste great. We try and test each recipes for the best results and then write step-by-step instructions that a novice brewer can re-create time and again. We have a wide range of recipes, spanning from an Australian Pale Ale to a Milk Stout and loads of IPAs.
Any other advice you would give for someone looking to get started?
Just give it a go! Home brewing isn’t nearly as hard as you may think and I would recommend our kits in particular because they allow you to brew completely from scratch, using an all-grain, brew-in-a-bag method. This is compared to a pre-mixed extract that you find in many other kits, which can seriously impact on the taste. You will be surprised at how simple it is and impressed with the quality of beer that you’re able to make yourself.
For more info on homebrewing and to get started head over to the good people at www.homebrewtique.com