Until 1979, homebrewing was an illegal practice, it has been that way since the beginning of Prohibition. Thanks to President Carter the 59 year ban on homebrewing was lifted – allowing adults 21 years of age and older to brew 100 gallons a year and up to 200 gallons a year for households with more than one adult, for personal use of course.
Why would you want to get into homebrewing?
- Economic: I can brew 5 gallons of high-quality brew with $10-30 dollars worth of ingredients
- Variety & Quality: Want an ale, a lager, perhaps a Lambic, how about a good Mead (honey wine) or maybe you’d like a nice dark stout or porter. It’s up to you. You are not limited to the corner liquor store varieties. You can also get a little crazy with it and customize as you wish. I recently brewed a whiskey chocolate vanilla Irish stout – you’d never find such a beer elsewhere – and it’s excellent.
- Fun: Brewing is fun. It’s biology, cooking, chemistry, etc… all mixed into one fun activity.
- Social: It fun to be the guy that provides new brews to his friends. You’ll be loved and revered.
- Health: Homebrew is arguably much healthier than commercial brew that is filtered or pasteurized. Brewers yeast is a great source of vitamin B. Homebrew’s my personal favorite post workout nutrition.
Knowledge is paramount to your success as a homebrewer. We’ll get you the basics in this series but to really become an expert you’ll need to bury your head in a few of these. I promise this homework won’t be painfull.
How to Brew by John Palmer ($11) – possibly the best book for the homebrewing newcomer.
Brew Your Own Magazine – the quintessential “how to” homebrew magazine.
Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels ($13) – in my humble opinion, one of the best brewing books out there. Just buy it.
The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian ($11) – incredibly easy to understand and very informative.
Reading this guide and reading books is great but learning from others experiences is also very important. Homebrew organizations and your local homebrew shop – if you have one – are excellent for this.
The AHA (American Homebrewers Associations) is a non-profit organization that was founded back in 1978 by some Boulder, CO homebrewers. AHA helps organize homebrew clubs across the country. Some of their activities include the Sanctioned Competition Program, National Beer Judge Certification Program and Annual National Homebrewers Conference & Competition. The AHA also publishes the bi-monthly magazine Zymurgy, which is included with membership. For more info: AHA, PO Box 1679, Boulder, CO 80306-1679, 888.822.6273, http://www.beertown.org/homebrewin … index.html
The Boston Wort Processors is Boston’s oldest homebrew club. Since 1984, they have been discussing, brewing and living beer. They gather every month to share homebrew, talk beer and share homebrewing knowledge. The club also boasts an exotic collection of pure yeast strains from around the globe available for only a buck if you’re a member! For more info: http://www.wort.org
Your local shop. For me it’s Brewhut in Aurora, Colorado – closely tied to Dry Dock Brewing – the store carries all the equipment and ingredients you could need and more importantly the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. Get out there and talk to people, you’ll find that for the most part people who brew and drink beer tend to be quite happy.
Look for Part 2 next week. We’ll cover what equipment you need to procure to setup shop so we can start brewing.