In order to finally get some structured content, I’ve decided to write a series of short articles about my hobbies. Hopefully they will be informative, maybe they’ll inspire others to try them out and, at the very least, it gives me something to do while I continue to navigate the mire of the job market.
So, I think it’s fairly clear from my other posts that I’m a hobbyist for a few things. Beer being one of them. I’d call myself a ‘beer enthusiast’. Others might call me a borderline alcoholic. I might say there’s nothing borderline about it. I like a beer, so shoot me. I don’t go crazy, smashing back shots and spirits like they’re going out of fashion, but I do like my ale.
And, as my previous job meant I had the chance to become something of an expert on the substance, I pretty much did. Ex-work colleagues would often be astounded by my beer knowledge, and knowledge of how beer works in licensed premises.
So it seems a shame to waste all that.
And you’re the lucky world I get to share it with. Give yourself a round of applause! I’ll be covering topics such as beer history, how it’s made, the role it’s played in medical advances, then focusing on how you can make your own at home for a fraction of the cost you’d pay for commercial alternatives. In such tight economic times, this is one saving that is easy to make. If you have the patience to craft your own.
I should just qualify that this will be the ‘lazy-mans’ way of doing it, as the title states. The knowledge I have is vast, but I have neither space at home – or finance to build – a wildly elaborate home brewery. My set-up is basic as all hell, but it works and literally anyone could do it without having to take out a second mortgage to cover it.
But how did I get into this bizarre little hobby? The story actually doesn’t start in the home, but in the pub. As a young man I followed the social trend of using beer as a social lubricant. And, to be honest, I didn’t enjoy it at first. The first time I ever enjoyed a beer was during a party at the end of my high-school time. My group of friends were holding a celebratory bash and Budweiser was the lager of choice. I found it nice and smooth, and easy drinking though, to be fair, I spent most of the night cuddling up to a girl I was sweet on at the time. She also felt nice and smooth, so maybe I just confused one with the other.
Fast-forward a few years and I started socialising regularly in pubs. I took a liking to lager and lime, but it churned my insides something chronic. It was worse on rugby match days – which equates to drinking for as long as you are awake – and the bubbly lager seriously curtailed my drinking stamina. I needed an alternative in order to preserve my drinking reputation.
Enter…ale. Stiller, smoother it was the answer to my problem. I developed a love of ale, of the wider variety of tastes and flavours and I didn’t look back. At the same time, Christmas was around the corner. My brother and I had a habit of buying one normal and one stupid present for each other – we’re cynical siblings like that. For example, he has UK Size 14 feet. It’s actually ridiculous. So, one year, I bought him bright red, honest-to-god, Sideshow Bob style clown shoes.
He didn’t really appreciate that one.
But, a year later, I bought a Make Beer At Home kit. For the princely sum of twenty British pounds, it promised to deliver FORTY pints of beer! I thought there was no way, that it would be the beer equivalent of little girls making perfume by sticking rose petals into a bottle of tap water. But, it was a bit of a laugh, so why not?
But my brother never used it. He’s more lazy than me and he stopped reading the instructions at ‘need to add one bag of sugar’. So I took it back because I decided I wanted a go. And it wasn’t much more difficult than the complexities of adding a kilo of Tate and Lyle. So I followed the process, waited the brewing time…then I had a problem.
I was a retard. I hadn’t thought what I might put the beer in once it was ready to package.
Rookie error right there. It didn’t get much better, as I dumbly thought a few empty 3-litre coke bottles would be enough, even though I should have know full well that I’d put 23 litres of water into the brew bucket. Ah well, too late. It was just a test batch. I’d take ten litres and dump out the rest.
It’s a sacriledge to consider that now.
So, how did the beer turn out? It was ok. Nothing to write home about, but drinkable. So I decided to have another go. And another. I did research in books and online, watched videos on YouTube and now, ten years later, I’m proud to say I make beer of all styles that rivals anything I can buy in the shop. And I don’t always use the fanciest of my equipment to do it.
And, if this appeals, you can do it to. With a bit of planning, some fairly large cooking pots and a some basic equipment, you can be enjoying your own home made beer, crafted in your own kitchen, in around 3-4 weeks. Even the most basic method of home brew provides good results, and the more complex you go, the better the results.
But beware the beer snobs. They are everywhere. But we’ll cover them in another episode.
The picture of beer at the top of this article was made by me. It looks great, tastes better…and I might just have another.
After all, the First Rule of Home Brewing? Always drink a Home Brew while Making a Home Brew…or, in this case, whilst writing about one.