Zara Hale’s helpful tips on how to Homebrew
The current trend for homebrewing in the UK is so awesome as it encourages more and more people to experiment with the massively diverse spectrum of beer styles, flavours and brewing processes. It means an ever-increasing amount of people are exposing themselves to the exciting, extremely rewarding hobby of brewing, and we are in total support of this.
One of our Camden bar scamps, Zara, is a seasoned homebrewer and has provided her top 5 tips for getting the best out of your brews. Ladies and gents, I give you Zara;
My homebrewing journey all started about 18 months ago when I met my partner. He was the one who introduced me to craft beer, so I have a lot to thank him for! The first beer I brewed was a 10.4% Belgian strong ale with coriander and orange peel, which was awesome, and we’re just put the finishing touches to our first Lambic. These days I tend to brew pale ales or strong IPAs but I love experimenting with all sorts of crazy flavours.
I use pretty basic home brewing equipment as I have very little storage space at home, but it doesn't prevent me from being able to experiment and play around with different techniques. There's something special about being able to create an interesting beer from scratch in your own home, and it's even more special when you're able to share the finished product with friends. Before starting work at Brewdog Camden I didn't really know much about beer, but it wasn't long before it turned into a hobby…or some might say an obsession!
So it’s really easy to get into brewing no matter where you live, what you earn or what sort of beers you enjoy. There’s a way for everyone to get into it. Here are my top 5 tips for homebrewing:
1. Shop around.
Don't buy pre-made kits! Although it makes your first brew easy, it doesn't really teach you about the fun parts. Look on the internet, or if you're lucky enough to live near a brewing shop, pop in. Do a little bit of research to find out what you need. Brewing is SO much fun if you buy everything separately and brew from scratch.
2. Don't be afraid to experiment.
If you wonder what your beer will taste like with mint leaves and lime rind, throw some in. Making beer isn't about sticking to the rules, it's about making something unusual, something tasty and something (sometimes) a bit weird that nobody else has done before.
3. Brew as much as possible!
The sooner you get used to the process, the easier it becomes. It'll soon become second nature and you can start having some serious fun! Dedicate time to it and give it plenty of attention.
4. Set aside a day to brew.
There is lots of waiting around and cleaning. And I do mean a lot. You can't rush the process.
5. Share your creations.
Let people taste your beer! Give your brews to as many people as possible and ask them for feedback. If you really want to take home brewing seriously, you need to know what you're doing wrong, so you can make your beer awesome!
Got any more homebrewing tips? Leave them in the comments!
- yes..yes..experiment wildly...you will get failures but once in a while you will produce something truly amazing... fatbaldingoldgit17.03.2013
- CS, it wasn't always so! When I started brewing you couldn't get BrewDog labels off for love nor money. I suggested they should make them removable for homebrew/recycling purposes never heard back but they're now much easier to de-label so we all win in the end. Boosy15.03.2013
- After a while bottling becomes tedious. When it does try storing and dispensing using corny kegs. 4.5 galls at a time and keeps for months if you don't drink it! Fatbaldingoldgit15.03.2013
- Dont agree with (you cant add too many hops) A lot off the best beers in the world are low on hops (Belgium,German) Hops should not be overpowering, let the yeast shine .and brew dog bottles are crap...... 330ml..... say no more. mico15.03.2013
- we would love to see Zara making a brew-dog clone recipe, don't we??? :) TomBrew15.03.2013
- Agree with comments below, you always need to double the dry hop to get it where you want.....
Star San and brew clean, stainless steel hoil pots and the biggest ass propane burner you can get. Build big, split the cost across friends and you can brew a killer IPA for pennies!
Regional Brewdog Bar Homebrew Comps..........with a national winner?CStewart15.03.2013
- Top tips Zara - I totally agree with the comments about experimenting.
A good half-way house to those new to brewing is to use grain soaking and spraymalts. This allows for using lots of different hops and is a world away from the kits.
Also, many of the brewers are more than happy to give hints and tips on how to clone their brews. Admittedly, this seems to be more a US thing at the moment (Come on Brewdog, some tips on Punk IPA would be great!!), but it helps approximate the ingredients used.
There are a ton of recipes online - http://www.brewersfriend.com is great for clone recipes as well as diarising each attempt.
Keep copious notes of everything tried and, finally, if you think you have over-hopped, add twice as much again as you can never have too many hops.
- leave a few bottles aside and enjoy them in 6months to a year and see how they change. hlbshopnick15.03.2013
- Your first photo shows a shot of you bottling, was this just for the camera or is this how you do it?? I find having the bottles on a clean surface lower then the fermentor allows gravity to do the work. Also if someone has never fermented before you should start with pre made kits (a good quality one) as this gives you the chance to ferment and get the temperatures correct to get the correct %. Then do a extract brew with your own hops and then all grain. This way you can taste the different qualities and freshness and start to make your own recipes. The more people doing homebrews the better for the nation! Syphon tips etc15.03.2013
- 4/5 ain't bad.
There's nothing wrong with starting out with kits. The "premium" ones produce exceptionally good beer if you take care with them. But more importantly making a few brews from kits teaches the basics of sanitation, fermentation, conditioning and packaging.
Let's face it, when we learn to cook we start with simple things, we don't just get a bunch of ingredients and assume that we can produce something edible...
...and so it is with home brewing. Get the basics right first, THEN start to build your own beers from extracts or grain.CS15.03.2013
- Brewdog bottles are great for reuse as labels come off very easily and cleanly. S15.03.2013
- I'm not sure about experimenting too wildly.. I'm only on my fourth batch, which is a black IPA using MO, wheat, chocolate rye and Carafa S3, with Bramling X and Amarillo. It's tense enough wondering what this odd mix will taste like in 6 weeks time, without chucking celery and star fruit into the mix!
Here are my tips: get an auto siphon and make a bottling bucket. Two of the best labour saving decisions ever. Oh, and use Star San for sanitising. No rinsing. Bliss.Lupuloony15.03.2013