Top Menu

An introduction to homebrewing

Are you sat at home thinking that maybe now is the time to start learning how to homebrew. Or even improve your homebrewing skills? Well, Homebrew Week is back to inform and entertain you.

Every day this week, Beer & Brewer will be putting up a story about homebrewing and on Friday, newsletter subscribers will receive an extra newsletter chock full of the week’s stories.

Check out Homebrew Weeks from last year – here and here!

First up, we have an extract from our latest issue, with Homebrew Editor Chris Thomas providing an introduction to making quality beer.

If you’ve been gifted a homebrew kit for Christmas, chances are the giver doesn’t really appreciate that he or she might have just opened your Pandora’s box because homebrewing is an exciting, unique, challenging and (at times) obsessive pursuit.

The challenge isn’t just to make beer, but to make beer that you can enjoy. There are endless styles and variations that you can easily brew by changing the can of concentrate or even just the yeast sachet. But let’s first break down what’s in your kit.

What’s in my homebrew kit?

WHAT’S IN MY HOMEBREW KIT? All kits come with everything you need to get brewing. There are minor variations between brands, but your basic kit will include:

  • 30 litre plastic or stainless steel fermenter: for brewing your precious beer
  • Hydrometer and test-tube: measures sugar level at the start (OG) and at the end of your brew (FG). The difference between these calculates your alcohol percentage
  • Spoon: used to mix all ingredients thoroughly in your fermenter • Bottling valve and tap: for dispensing beer into your hydrometer and into bottles at the end of your brew
  • Airlock and grommet (not required for Coopers fermenters): this allows the release of carbon dioxide (CO 2) from your fermenter, while protecting your wort from unwanted bacteria
  • Stick-on thermometer: to monitor the temperature of your brew
  • PET bottles: these are the safest, yet least sexy way to present your beer
  • No rinse sanitiser: this does not come with all kits but is essential and is available from your homebrew shop. Clean your fermenter and all other parts before brewing and straight after bottling (or the next day if you’ve suitably celebrated your first bottling day!) to keep it clean and free from unwanted bacteria that might spoil your brew.
  • 1.7kg can of concentrate and 1kg dextrose/ brew enhancer: to make your beer of course!

Your brew kit will have come with written or online instructions. If your instruction booklet was recycled with your Christmas wrapping, then hit up YouTube or your local homebrew shop owner. Both will provide ample knowledge for your first brews.

What’s next

Chances are you have already made your first beer and some of you will be pleased with the results, while others will be disappointed. If you are in the latter group, don’t retire your kit yet! There are some easy solutions – read on!

Most homebrew kits come with a lager can of concentrate. This has always perplexed me as making a great lager is a challenge for homebrewers of all levels. For starters, a mainstream lager is a clean, crisp and refreshing beer with minimal hop aroma or bitterness.

Brewing faults cannot be hidden like they can in hoppy beers like pale ales and IPAs, or darker beers like porters and stouts. Secondly, lager uses a different yeast that should be fermented between 12-15°C. Most brewers starting out won’t have the ability to control and maintain the temperature in this region.

This article appears in the Autumn 2020 issue of Beer & Brewer. To read the complete article, subscribe here to receive Beer & Brewer digitally or in print.

MORE STORIES