Until 1979 brewing beer at home was illegal in the United States. Even though home brewing is legal in most states, there are limits to the amount of beer that can be produced in a year. In the United Kingdom and most of the providences in Canada, making beer at home is also legal. Like the U.S. there are also limits to the amount of beer that can be produced in the home.
Since the legalization of home produced beer, the sale of scaled down brewing equipment has exploded. Individuals can purchase everything they need to brew at home. For the beginning brew master, a home brewing kit is a good way to start. These kits take a lot of the technical aspects of brewing out of the brewing process. Before looking at a starter kit, it’s a good idea to know the basics of beer and ale brewing.
The Basics for Brewing Beer and Ale
The basic ingredients needed to make beer or ale is water, malted barley, hops and yeast. The first step is to make the wort. Wort is the liquid extracted from the mashing process. Wort contains the sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol.
To make wort in very simple terms the malted barley (malt), hops and water are boiled for a period of time. The wort is then poured in the fermenter and cooled. After it is cooled the yeast (brewers yeast) is placed in the fermenter and an airlock is placed over the fermenter.
The yeast then begins to do its thing and grows as it consumes the sugars. When brewing beer the yeast will fall to the bottom of the fermenter. With ale the yeast stays at the top of the fermenter. After a period of time the brew is then bottled and stored to carbonate.
Home Brewing Beer and Ale Kits
With a home brewing kit, individuals can make their own version of microbrew beer. Most home brewing kits include everything that’s needed to brew beer. Some of the items that’s in the typical kit include
- wort mixture (malted barley and hops)
- brewers yeast
- bottles and caps
Although there are some exceptions, most kits premix the barley and hops, which makes it much easier to produce the wort. Once the wort is made, the wort is combined with water and yeast and placed in the airtight fermenter. The brew ferments for a period of time until it is ready to be bottled.
Most home brewing kits have numerous options available for different types of beers and ales. Home brewers can make malty beers, hoppy beers like an IPA or make a more balanced beer. They can also have dark, fruity, strong, light or anything in between. The best part is that making home brewed beer can usually be done at a fraction of the cost of store bought beer.