US President Barack Obama's home-made beer recipe, released recently by the White House, has revived interest in home-brewing in the United States.
Taking their cue from the White House recipe and the subsequent interest, entrepreneurs have begun producing home-brew beer kits. According to reports, these kits offered online and off-the-shelves are selling like hot cakes in many parts of the US.
Some of the kits, priced around $30-$80 contain special grains, a variety of hops, yeast, special priming sugar, a pound of honey, and instructions to brew. A typical home brew takes less than six weeks from kit to glass.
Popular website Beersmith gives a tutorial on how to brew and offers all information on brewing at home. It says: "In these difficult economic times, many people are turning to hobbies that can be done inexpensively at home in a reasonable amount of time. Brewing fits this bill, as it does not require a huge investment in capital or time, and is a great hobby to enjoy with friends."
The website lists the essential equipment needed for home brewing, many of which one might already have in kitchen. It includes a large pot of 3 gallon volume or more, tubing and clamp, an airtight fermenting bucket, an air locker and stopper, a bottle filler, a thermometer, bottles and caps, a bottle brush, a bottle capper, and a sanitising solution to prevent contamination.
The ingredients required to brew five gallons (19 litres) of beer include 6lb (2.7kg) of unhopped pale malt extract, 2.25oz (65 grammes) of hops, 1 package of liquid yeast and two or three cups of sugar. The malt extract, the chief ingredient, provides the sweet base for yeast to feed on to make alcohol, while hops add bitterness to beer.
In the United Kingdom, meanwhile, home-brewing has long been a popular pastime, and complete five-gallon kits for both lager and UK-style bitter are readily available. The popularity of home-brew peaked in the 1970s, but the current revival of interest in beer and brewing, coupled with the high price of beer in pubs, means that home-made beer is on its way back.
4 Simple Steps
Beer-making is a simple four-step process. Allow roughly four hours for brewing and four weeks for the beer to mature.
The first step is brewing, wherein the malt extract is boiled, along with hops and water for over an hour to sterilise the contents and to release the bitter taste of hops. After brewing, the hot mixture called "wort" must be cooled to room temperature and transferred to a fermenter and mixed with water to make five gallons. Yeast is added to the cooled mixture, and fermentation takes about two weeks.
Once it is completely fermented, it is left to age for another two to four weeks. At this point, the yeast will ferment the remaining sugar and generate carbon dioxide, which makes the beer fizzy. During this period, sediments of yeast and excess proteins will drop off the beer, adding flavour to the brew.
Website makebeerathome states: "Brewing beer is neither complicated nor expensive. It's the responsibility of the brewer to make it as complicated and expensive as their wife will allow." It lists 200 recipes and gives advice on all practical aspects of brewing.