Brew your own
By Denny Conn
Do you like beer? Have you ever wondered how to make it yourself? Around here in Eugene, the answer is likely to be a resounding "YES!". I've been a homebrewer for a bit over 10 years, and I can tell you that it's a great hobby. It combines all the best parts of cooking and science, with the big bonus that you get to drink the results! Here a few tips about how to get started.
We're lucky to have two great homebrew shops here in Eugene. The Home Fermenter Center on Monroe and Valley Vintner and Brewer on Willamette Street both sell kits of equipment and ingredients to help you get started. Typically, these kits run from about $125-$165 and include the ingredients and almost all the equipment you need to make a 5 gal. batch of beer. After that, a typical kit of ingredients to make 5 gal. will run around $30-40. You need to provide a pot (a 4 gal. stock pot works great) and empty bottles (emptying the bottles is the fun part!). It will take you about 3-4 hours to brew the beer and another hour or 2 to bottle it about 3 weeks later, when it's finished fermenting. One other thing you need is a place to put the beer as it ferments. You want it to be between about 60-70F. I use a closet in my guest room and it works great. As a beginning homebrewer, I recommend you start by brewing ales. Lagers (like Bud, Coors, Pabst, etc.) take more advanced techniques and equipment and are best left until you've learned the basics.
There are myriad resources to help you learn more about brewing and to help you make better beer. The book "How to Brew by John Palmer is widely regarded as the best book on homebrewing, covering basic to advanced techniques and recipes. The 2nd edition of it is available free at www.howtobrew.com. The American Homebrewers Association website at www.beertwon.org is another good place for information. There are a number of homebrew discussion forums, too. Look for www.tastybrew.com, www.northernbrewer.com, and www.morebeer.com. The local homebrew club, the Cascade Brewers Society, holds monthly meetings and is a great place to meet and talk with other homebrewers. Their schedule can be found at www.cascade-brewers.com.
Denny Conn started homebrewing in 1998 after his wife bought him an ingredient and equipment kit for his birthday. Like many well meaning wives, she had no idea what a monster she would create! Denny is active in many Internet beer discussion forums and is a certified as a National judge by the Beer Judge Certification Program. He is currently serving on the American Homebrewers Association Governing Committee. He has written for several homebrewing publications. He lives in the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range mountains with his lovely wife Paula (who loves super hoppy IPAs), 3 cats and 2 Border Collies.
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