Beer Making has been going on for many centuries. In fact, beer is the earth’s most widely consumed and oldest alcoholic beverage. And, today it is the third most popular drink following right after water and tea.
(Some Great Instructional Videos Below!)
Beers are typically categorized into two groups, lagers and ales. This distinction is primarily due to the behavior of the yeast used in the process. A fast acting yeast will produce an ale with residual sugar and slightly sweeter taste. Slower acting yeasts will consume all of the sugar and produce a cleaner tasting lager beer. Both have avid followers amongst the beer making/drinking crowd.
The alcohol strength of beer typically ranges from 3% alcohol by volume (abv) to almost 30% abv. The alcohol content usually varies by the desire of the maker or the drinker in many cases. Beers like pale lagers usually fall in the range of 4% to 6% abv. Typical beer making yeast cannot exist above about 12% abv putting a cap on alcohol content. However, in recent years, brewers have used some champagne yeasts to push the alcohol content to nearly 30% abv.
Here is a quick overview of the beer making process:
Step 1 – Malted barley is left to soak in heated water to release the malt sugars.
Step 2 – The malt sugar solution is boiled with the hops to give it seasoning.
Step 3 – This solution is cooled and then yeast is added to get the fermentation process started.
Step 4 – The sugar ferments with the yeast present releasing carbon dioxide and some ethyl alcohol.
Step 5 – Once the main fermentation is complete, the beer is bottled with a little bit of added sugar which will through a bit more yeast action produce the carbonation.
Step 6 – Taste, drink and enjoy!
The home brewing of beer is often referred to as craft brewing. This type of beer making requires patience as the whole process can take from two weeks to several months depending on the type or style of beer you are making. The usual brew batch is about five gallons in size and be one of several batches at different stages of completion.
Home brewing is popular for a number of reasons. In most cases, after your intial equipment investment, it is cheaper than store bought beer. In fact some of the more expensive beers can easily be created at home at a fraction of the cost. As a home brewer, you can adjust the recipe to make that special taste you love!
So, what is a hophead? This happens to be a beer drinker that likes a more pronounced hop flavor in their beer. Making your own beer allows you to greatly increase the hop taste.
Home Brewing Safety
As with most home craft projects that we work on, it is important to remember your safety and the safety of your family. In making beer, you will be boiling mixtures and creating steam. Both of which can cause serious burns. Please take the time to think through what you are doing before you do it so you stay safe.
This is a great hobby for the person with patience and a love of fine beer. The endless variety of taste, alcohol content, color and carbonation make for a hobby that you will never get tired of. Work safe and have some great fun!
Other descriptors include beer brewing, home brewing, home brewed beer and great hobbies.