Want to learn how to brew your own beer? Well, here’s a reasonable guide to the process in handy video format by an animator in New Zealand, all in less than two minutes.
In a nutshell: get some malted grain, grind it up, add it to hot water, hold it at a certain temperature for an hour, drain off the liquid, boil the liquid, add some hops while it boils, cool it down, put it in a tank and add yeast, let the yeast ferment it for a couple of days, put in a bottle and drink.
Obviously, of course, there is a lot more to it – time, temperature, types of grains, types of hops, types of yeast and all sorts of other factors go into it. And there are a lot of things can go wrong along the way. The animation, for example, shows the fermented beer poured into a bottle, which sits around for a little while to age, then the happy homebrewer pours it in a glass and drinks it. That leaves out the very real possibility that our happy homebrewer screwed up the sanitation, allowing bacteria to grow in the bottle, or perhaps overfed the yeast, causing it to explode: the infamous “Bottle Bomb.”
You will do this at least once in your homebrewing career unless you are either incredibly lucky or a manically careful sanitation freak from day one.
I’ve made my share of bottle bombs, including one that attacked me in my kitchen. I had hauled a case out of the basement ready to load it into the fridge. I set it down in front of the fridge, stepped over the case to open the door when I heard a boom and felt a searing pain. The top of a bottle had blown off, sending the neck and cap rocketing into my largely undefended nether regions.
That will focus the mind on sanitation real fast.
For a lot of reasons, not least the relative ease of sanitizing, I have switched over to kegging my homebrew rather than bottling it since then.
But still, the animation is a reasonable intro to how to homebrew. If you’re interested in knowing more, trot down to your local homebrew shop and talk to the experts. They will be willing to hold your hand through the first few batches. The American Homebrewers Association also has lots of useful advice and links on its website. Also, check out one of the many good books on basic brewing. One of my early favorites was “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing” by guru Charlie Papazian.The book is quick, matter of fact, and very reassuring for those of us who like to stress about things – as Charlie likes to say about things that go wrong: Relax and enjoy a home brew.
– Sean Scully