A Homebrewer is Born!

Being a beer and music blogger is a lot of fun.  I’m consistently fielding different questions on different beer and music related issues; however, there is one questions that I consistently get that I feel bad about: Do you brew your own beer?  I will admit that I have always wanted to go to the next level in my love of beer.  I drink beer, I understand beer, and I can wax fairly philosophically about different beer related things.  But, I have never been able to talk to another brewer about what it’s like to brew your own product.  Although as I write this I still can’t say I know what it’s like to brew beer, I will soon be able to relate my own brewing experiences.

As some of you know, my birthday was Thursday of last week.  I received word from my parents that the present they were sending to me wouldn’t arrive in time for my birthday, but I needed to be prepared for two boxes big enough for my 50 pound dog to lay down in.  First of all, I live in a two bedroom two bath condo.  So, I was slightly worried I would be receiving something that would take up a lot of space.  I told them to deliver it to school because of the strange delivery things that sometime happen in DC; therefore, at the end of the day Friday, I was alerted to the two large boxes I needed to pick up in the office.  Thankfully I had a student or two to carry the large boxes out to my car.

Getting the boxes home, I immediately opened the boxes up to find my own starter set for homebrewing.  Now I do plan on using the kit that I received with the set to try to brew my first batch, but I really want to start to figure out how to do some brewing that doesn’t involve a prepackaged recipe.  The kit kind of reminds me of buying a taco kit at the grocery store, but I will definitely use it to try to brew my first batch.  Plus, if I screw everything up, I won’t feel all that bad dumping everything down the drain.

I’m extremely excited to take my next step in the brewing process.  Here is a link to the exact kit I received.  What I would like to know is, what do I need to pick up after I try a few times with the basic kit.  It would seem a carboy or immersion wort chiller would be good in the future, but I’m not really all that sure.  I won’t be running out to buy it right away, but after a time or two though, I would love to pick up even more equipment.  So help me figure out my next step.



  1. Nice! I homebrewed in college, but I left all my equipment behind when I moved from MT to SC. I have always regretted leaving it behind, but since then I have always lacked the space to start back up. I look forward to hearing of your brewing adventures.

    • you know, I don’t want to be creepy, but I think we should do a little collaboration review or brew since I know we are both in the DC area right now. I’m not saying tomorrow, but I think sometime it would be cool.

      • Nah, that’s not creepy. I think it’s a good idea. Besides, all the cool kids are doing collaborations.

  2. A wort chiller would probably be the next purchase. I actually don’t have one and chilling the wort is a pain in the ass without it. My problem is that every time I want to buy one, I buy ingredients instead. The carboy can wait, but they’re easier to clean. I have 6 gallon and 5 gallon carboys for primary and secondary purposes respectively.

    I also do extract brewing as I’m too cheap and/or too lazy to make the all-grain jump. My suggestions are to use the same amount of dry extract as liquid that a recipe may call for. It bumps the OG and the overall feel of the beer to something that doesn’t taste like extract homebrew. I like to take the recipes off Northern Brewer and replace the liquid with dry, plus a few other adjustments. Of course, I buy most of my ingredients from NB.

    I use a tool like Hopville.com (username comoprozac) to record my recipes once I’ve mad adjustments to NB’s.

    Start hanging out with other homebrewers or join a homebrew club. The best feedback you can get is from a guy who’s been brewing for several years.

    If you don’t do anything else, be sure to clean and sanitize your equipment to point of obsession. cleanliness is probably the biggest reason that homebrews don’t turn out the way you want. With those buckets, I’d soak them overnight in Oxyclean in order to clean out any debris or bits of bacteria-hoarding particles. Then, rinse them thoroughly and be sure to use a homebrew-approved sanitizer.

    • Thanks for the advice. I have definitely heard that making sure everything stays really sanitized is really important. So, I will definitely keep that in mind heading forward. Thanks also for the website and advice. I will definitely be checking them out for sure.

  3. Congrates! Man I’m really leaning towards getting back into the game. I was moving my grain mill and carboys around the other day. I may have to go out and just do some price checking.

    I echo everything Zac said – especially about the cleanliness. That just can’t be emphasized enough.

    One thing I would suggest, get some info. It looks like your starter kit didn’t come with a book. See if you can get your hands on a good home brewing book, or Zymurgy magazine. If you follow Zac’s suggestion to find a homebrew club, usually those groups have a “library” of sorts and are willing to lend out materials.

    Finally, the internet is an amazing source of info. I for one, enjoy the Brewing Network (http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/) most of it may be a little advanced for you at the moment but they have some great podcasts on yeast selection, cleaning equipment, bottling, brewing clone beers, etc.


    • Forgot something. If there is a home brew supply shop near you, take the dry yeast package you got with your kit and toss it. Go to the shop and get either good dry yeast or better yet, liquid yeast. The guy at the store will tell you how to deal with the liquid yeast. Unless things have change since I home brewed, the package of yeast that comes with those kits was never any good.

      • Funny thing is they forgot to send me the yeast. I called them today to send it over to me, but I have heard of some stores in the area, so I’ll definitely check them out for sure.

      • I don’t know about the dried yeast that comes with kits, but I’ve been brewing mostly with dried yeast and the results have been pretty fantastic so far. The smack packs can offer more variety, however.

    • Yeah I have some money left over from my birthday I was thinking of using for supplies and maybe some equipment. I want to make sure I’m in the best place to succeed. I will definitely check out the site for sure, but thanks for the advice for sure.

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