50's Flashback: How To Start Your Own Micro Home Brewery
My buddy, Chuck, pointed out that starting your own micro home brewery is just like pursuing our music. You need to have the basic knowledge, tools, and lots of passion. And, like any hobby, you need to set aside time and gather up your patience because, I soon found out, that most first-time home beer brewers mess up a brew or two until they settle down to using the right recipe and the right equipment. Chuck made sense because messing up while learning new songs is the same.
As for equipment, I can relate to this, being a musician, like Chuck. I know what it takes to find the right guitar, amp, and accessories to get an awesome sound and I know it also takes the three P's - Patience, Passion, Practice - to become good at it. It's exactly the same with brewing beer at home. If you stick with it, eventually you will get good at it. You will be impressing family and friends with your own brews!
Choosing home brewing equipment is simple or complex or somewhere in between. You need to figure out how many people you will be sharing your brew with and how much of it you personally intend on drinking. Now, I need to say, drink responsibly and share wisely.
You really don't want to go overboard especially when it comes to your guests. For obvious legal reasons, you want to limit how much beer you and they drink. No drunk driving, please, and keep all alcohol out of the reach of children!
First time micro brewers need just basic equipment to get started. Brewing containers come in stainless steel, ceramic, and so forth. Start with a 12 quart brewing pot to allow you some room to make mistakes to tweak the recipe to get it just right.
Just like a restaurant chef, you need a measuring scale because hops and grains need to be pretty exact when brewing beer. If you try to guess, you will just ruin the brew and have to start from scratch. This is the need for patience I mentioned earlier.
The details can get frustrating at first. You also need a thermometer to keep tabs on the cooking cycle because you can easily ruin a batch if the temperature is not just right. Also, make sure you use a stainless steel spoon for stirring. Due to possible impurities, a wood spoon will not do at all. Always make sure that your kettle and all utensils are clean so you do not contaminate the brewing cycle.
During the brewing process you will need hops and grains that will be placed in the kettle during cooking. These may be available in your local area. If not, there are sources on line who sell beermaking ingredients and equipment. You will need bottles and bottling equipment as well. These likely will have to ordered on line or out of a catalog and shipped to you.
This initial investment in equipment will pay for itself in the long run because you no longer have to buy your beer at the distributor! Brewing equipment literaly lasts for years so it is likely a one time expense.
In fact, you can even reuse the bottles once you have enjoyed their contents. The only ongoing expense is the hops and grains. The hops and grains are pretty inexpensive, a lot cheaper than buying commercial beers.
A key consideration is what type of beer do you like? Maybe you are an ale drinker? Maybe you like dark stout beer? Maybe you prefer light beer? As a home beer brewer, you decide what kinds of beer your little home pub is going to serve. You can have a variety.
When I was at Chuck's I tried his non-alcoholic beer because I was driving. I have to say, I could not tell the difference between that and regular beer as far as taste. I do like the taste of beer but I really don't care for the "buzz" or the hangover from regular beer and I never drink and drive.
Today, two beers practically put you over the legal limit as far as DUI laws are concerned. You can give your guests a choice which is always a good idea because, if they get drunk and drive, you can be held legally responsible in many states in the U.S. Of course, you should keep your beers out of the reach of children as well.
I would not hazard a guess as to how much money you will save with your own micro home brewery. That all depends on how much beer you personally drink and how many people you entertain on a regular basis. You can brew as little or as much beer as you need.
You can brew more for those Summer picnics and holiday parties and less for your own use. It's up to you. My buddy Chuck says he saves about $2,000 a year brewing his own beer.
Finally, you also need to be aware that your friends and relatives might come to think of you as their personal bootlegger. That's a term from prohibition days when people brewed "bathtub gin" at home and sold it in the neighborhood.
If they start knocking on the door, make sure you charge them something to cover the brewing costs and to get your bottles back. Trust me. I am told that people, even friends and relatives, will try to take advantage of you.
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