Beer and beer brewing has been a hobby of mine since 5 years ago. I started to discover the world of beer after me and 3 of my friends started to meet once every 3 months for some beer tasting.
A new and interesting world opened up and triggered the interest in brewing beer. In this blog post, I will share with you my project, beer brewing for beginners and my first attempt at brewing beer.
First brew – I need new gadgets
I have to admit though, that I haven´t made any new batches of beer since my first attempt. Why so you are probably asking yourself. Well, it all comes down to prioritizing a lot of activities and work, and you guessed it, something has to give as there are only 24 hours in a day.
I have nevertheless been researching brewing since my first batch of beer. I have researched brewing techniques and which equipment and gadgets I need to continue brewing bigger batches than the first one. I got a couple of very good books on the topic. I think they come in both Norwegian and English editions and both are highly recommended. If you are living in Norway you get them from ARK. If you are living outside of Norway you can get a hold of some other very good books on the topic from The Book Depository
Brewing Starter Kits – Which one to select and which one is the best
So in order to start the brewing, I and my childhood friend Ivar had to decide on the basic equipment that was needed. After some careful considerations, and to keep our expenses as low as possible, we ended up with a kit from the company: Bryggselv, which costs about 1000,- nKr. Form this Kit we could make about 12 liters of beer. We decided on brewing Brown Ale. The kit is called “Brew in a Box komplett minibryggeri ” and contains everything you need to brew your first batch of beer. That is almost true though because, in addition, you need a big kettle with a volume of 15 liters. Luckily I had one from before which we have used for cooking meat for Christmas each year it was perfect
Contents of the Kit:
- One fermentation bucket with a volume of 10 liters, with airlock and rubber gasket
- Siphon with pinch clamp clip
- Spoon or similar to stir the brew
- 10 beer bottles with med patent cork
- Hops bag
- Carbonation tablets
- Hydrometer and test tube
- Craftsan acidic rinsing agent
In addition, we had to buy the ingredients for the type of beer you want to brew. We chose the Amber Ale Brew in a Box Beer Kit, due to meeting in the middle of personal preferences between my buddy and I.
The description of the kit is taken from Bryggselv.no sin product page:
In this beer, a marked malt profile is combined with tones of toffee, dark caramel, and fruit with a fresh citrus-like fruitiness from the hops. This makes the beer very suitable both for strong food and alone. It has enough sweetness to harmonize with hearty meat dishes and hops enough to cut through the fat. The beer can be successfully served for Christmas food
The kit provides 8 liters of beer when the brewing process is complete.
The Brewing Process – Oops we forgot to add Something
We started followed the user manual (User manul link is In the Norwegian language) for this beer kit. Everything went very well. The challenge is to keep the temperature perfect at all times so you don´t kill off the yeast and the rest of the ingredients during the brewing process.
At first, you have to extract the sugars in the malt. Keeping the temperature steady at xx degrees centigrades. After that, the next step in the process is to boil the mixture, adding the different ingredients during the process.
After some time of the brew boiling, we noticed that the amount of fluid in the kettle started to reduce, more than expected. Eureka! We realized we had forgotten to add sparge water, which was explained in the brewing recipe (the recipe is In the Norwegian language) while boiling. Due to this, we ended up with som less volume in the brewing batch. But lesson learned. Follow the user manual, and read at least 3 times to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
The Waiting Game – Fermentation and bottling the beer
The brew was finished after a couple of hours of extracting the sugars from the malt and the boiling of the ingredients. Now it was the time for pouring the mixture into the fermentation bucket for the yeast to start doing its work.
The first thing we should have done, which I realized after the yeasting process and carbonation process was finished and the beer was ready for drinking was measuring its alcoholic potency. ideally, it should be;
OG: 1.066 and FG: 1.016, which gives an alcoholic strength of 6,7%.
Which, we didn´t…., but I guestimate that our beer reached approximately 5,5 %, which is decent.
OG: is the original gravity. This is measured just prior to yeast being added, or pitched. it would have provided us with a good idea of the potential alcohol percentage for our first batch of beer.
FG: is the final gravity. When the fermentation of the beer is finished, the measured specific gravity is called the final gravity. A typical strength beer, OG normally is about 1.050 and FG is about 1.010.
More of the Waiting Game
With the mixture in the fermentation bucket, the bucket was put away in our walk.in-wardrobe where it was supposed to be located the next 14 days with a constant temperature of 18-21 degrees Celsius.
After this period the time came to bottle the beer. The procedure for bottling was straight forward and we used the siphon as instructed. It didn´t take to much time.
After remembering to put the carbonation tablets into each bottle, one tablet pr. bottle, It was back again to the waiting game. Another 14 days before we could taste the first batch of our own beer!
End Result and Tasting the First Batch
The beer tasted very good. The taste fit the taste profile as described in the user manual. But we could taste a bit of “flatness” in the end, before swallowing the beer. I think the reason for the flatness was the fact that there was difficulty in keeping the temperature within the small temperature range of 18-21 degrees celsius. The temperature was continuously staying at around 21 degrees +/- some fraction of 1 degree.
Finally, the last mistake was we did was to add sparge water and filing after the “lost” volume of water.
Bottom line. Beer brewing is easy, it is fun and social. If you want to try it, you can buy, rent or borrow the necessary equipment. The minimum required equipment you need is described in this article. I have tested it and it works just great. Beer brewing for beginners and my first attempt at brewing beer can be considered a success! It is a highly recommended leisure time activity.