Beer is proof that god loves us, and wants us to be happy. – Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father & All-Around Wise Guy
Here’s the facts:
Brewing beer is pretty easy. Sure, it requires a bit of equipment (nothing scary), and particular attention to sanitation (because, bottling), but overall, if you think about it in some basic steps (boiling, cooling, fermenting, bottling), you can start to wrap your head around the process without your brain ‘sploding.
That said, you do have the opportunity to make it as simple or as complicated as you like. For those who get off on it, there are recirculating wort thingys, hydrometers for measuring the overall booziness of your bottles, two-tiered keg systems (because what’s a keg without tiers?), etc. and so on. That said, we keep it simple here at Kiss My Grits HQ with just a big ‘ol pot, a 5 gallon glass container, a strainer, a bottle capper, and a siphon for bottling (which was a concession to ease on my part, as you can bottle with just a length of tube or “line” which I did the first couple of times to mixed results). Honestly, do you think they had all that fancy stuff in ancient Egypt? Nooooo they certainly did not, and they made beer, just the same.
Once you get past the initial purchase of bottles, carboys, bottling rig, and capper, it’s actually pretty economical. For about a $50 investment in ingredients, you’ll turn out about 4 cases of some handcrafted awesomeness.
Nature does most of the work. Because this isn’t a beer blog (I’ll leave the details to the mofessionals here and here), I’ll refrain from making an idiot out of myself and let you explore the ins and outs of the chemistry of the thing, but trust me when I say that when you put sugar, yeast, and liquid in the same place for a stretch of time (generally 2-3 weeks), you are gonna get alcohol. How tasty it is is pretty much up to you.
Homebrewing may look intimidating from the outside (what with all the grams of *this*, ph readings of *that*), but what homebrewers want almost as much as they want a beer, is more homebrewers. Get yourself to your local homebrew supply shop and talk to the guys (it’s always guys) behind the counter. They can get you set up with a starter kit, basic recipes, and ingredients. If they aren’t friendly (try to distinguish between beer nerd and friendly), go to the next shop. And remember, in the age of the interwebinator, nobody is the only game in town.
If you have one at your disposal, get yourself one of these:
His name is Andrew, and I’m 100% sure that he is the next big thing in brewing. He came with some fancy equipment, like this:
And we brewed side by side. Same recipe, same ingredients, but did different brewing styles. His was a bit more involved, ours a bit more…rudimentary. And, I’m pleased to report that ours was good. I mean, *really* good. But his was better. Was it down to the equipment? I honestly don’t think so. I think the equipment he brought made it easier, and certainly more interesting, but I think what truly made his better was his perspective. His dedication to the craft. I was flattered that he was willing to drop by for an afternoon and make a mess of our kitchen. Did I fail to mention that it’s messy? Well, consider yourself warned.
But, mess or no, it’s totally worth it. And when you are ready to start your second batch (because if you do one, you’ll be hooked and I have no doubt there will be a second, and a third, and a fourth…), you’ll be able to lift a glass of your own while you heat up your kettle and weigh out your ingredients.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll try something even more interesting…