Homebrewing

  • Let's get you some equipment.

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    Let's say you're a newb (hey we're all a newb at one point in time) and you want to get into homebrewing. Great! Let's get you some equipment.

    Best way to start? Get an equipment kit. We offer three that are tailored towards extract brewers. Plus, with a purchase of an equipment kit, you get a free Intro to Brewing (in-store) class. When deciding what kind of kit to get, check to see if you have a 3-5gal pot at home. Yes? Great! Then get either the Basic or Essential kit, if not then the Complete kit is what you need in your life!

    Some of you may have inherited equipment from family or friends. Be cautious of this. Rule of thumb; is it plastic, does it smell, is it sticky/moldy? If you answer yes to a few of these then you need to replace them, and remember, when in doubt, throw it out! Tubing and buckets are usually the first to go and need replacing.  Stainless Steel will last forever so don't throw it away if it's dirty! Just soak it in some cleaner (PBW) for a day or until clean.  Once you've gone through all your inherited equipment, make a list of what you need, and stop by the store. We'll help you find everything you need!

    Every kit starts with a Basic and then adds additional items. The Essential and Complete kits substitute the 6gal Fermenter with a 6gal Fermonster Fermenter (so you can watch the mesmerizing show of fermenting yeast).

    What comes in the kits...

    Basic Homebrewing Starter Kit ($95)       Essential Homebrewing Starter Kit ($146)     Complete Homebrewing Starter Kit ($190)

    • 6gal Fermenter                                              "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing"                Adhesive Thermometer
    • Bottling Bucket                                               #10 Universal Stopper                                       5gal Stainless Brew Kettle
    • Cylinder Lock                                                 Beer/Wine Thief
    • Hydrometer                                                   10.5" Test Cylinder
    • Auto Siphon                                                   Stainless Spoon
    • Tubing
    • Bottle Filler
    • Capper
    • Caps
    • Bottle Brush
    • Sanitizer
    • Cleaner
    • Thermometer

     

    Those are the basics, but of course there's a lot more than that! Stay tuned for next months All-Grain equipment post.

  • The Many Different Ways to Homebrew

    Ever wonder about the different styles of brewing? Why some people brew extract and some all-grain, and what is this partial mash thing? If you're thinking about starting to homebrew, or if you're currently an extract brewer looking for the next step, then this will help you like it did me!

     

    Extract

    The easiest style of brewing. Best for beginners to get their feet wet without having to buy expensive equipment. Called extract brewing because you use malt extract (dry or liquid) as a sugar source instead of all-grains (hence the name). Depending on your skill level, an extract brew day can take 2-3 hours. Just because you're an extract brewer doesn't mean you can't make great, high quality, beer, but you do miss out on the full range of ingredient control and brewing variations that are possible with All-Grain. Extract is the best way to start and master the general process of brewing beer, but to really get into the art of brewing beer you have to make your way towards All-Grain with each variation of brewing getting you closer to your final goal.

     

    Extract with Steeping Grain

    Adding steeping grains is the next step towards becoming a real brewing master. By adding steeping grains and doing a short mash you can make your beer even finer. Steeping grains do not add a lot of time, but now gives you the ability to customize your brew; focus on nuances and really fine-tune your malt flavor.

    Tip - make sure you crush your grains, but NOT the flaked ones. If you forget to crush them here in store, no problem! You can crush them by simply using a rolling pin over them, the idea is you want to crack the husks and not pulverize them in a food processor.

    Make sure to steep your grain between 145 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. If you steep them at a higher temperature then you risk extracting too many tannins from the grain husk. Beer that has too many tannins will be astringent, meaning it will have a drying sensation on your palate which is not always a desirable trait.

     

    Partial Mash

    The next step up on your way to All-grain is getting a portion of fermentable sugars from grain while still using malt extract. With each step we wean you off malt extract. This is not a difficult process, just requires a little more time and attention.

    Extra equipment may be required at this stage; good thermometer, bigger brew kettle, and an aquarium pump and aeration stone to oxygenate the wort.

    As far as the steps, it's the same as a full mash All-Grain process. However, less grain is used making it a simpler process. Gaining experience here will make going to All-Grain that much easier. Partial Mash is also helpful for brewing beers that don't have a malt extract equivalent (rauch malt, vienna malt, mild malt, etc...). It simply gives you more freedom to brew more experimental brews.

     

    All-Grain

    The pinnacle of homebrew! This is the purest form of beermaking and the method by which you can have the greatest influence over the outcome of your beer. Brewing with only grain is how most professional brewers make beer. Malt extract is expensive, so going all grain will save ya a buck or two, though you'll just end up spending it on the new equipment you'll need. You'll need a bigger brew pot (at least 8 gallons), mash ton, hot liquor tank, false bottom, immersion wort chiller, and more depending on how far you want to go. With each step up the process has become longer, we're now at a brew day lasting 4 - 8 hours.

    The very basic explanation of All-Grain is soaking crushed, malted, grains in hot water to go from starch to sugar, then drain away the sugary liquid, which is your wort. Once you have the wort in the brew pot then follow the same extract process you've been using so far. The big issue here is that you now have to do full volume boils and no longer can opt for partials.

    At this point you're well on your way to being a master brewer. There's no beer that you can't make! Get creative and try putting your own spin on old favorites. If you ever have any questions or need help going from one level to the next then call or stop by! We're here to help you to create the best beer you can imagine.

     

    Cheers!

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  • In which we introduce our new blog.

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    As the newest member of the Beer and Wine Hobby team I have a lot to learn. What better way to cement my knowledge then to share it all with you, post by post.

    About the store (in case you didn’t know) Beer and Wine Hobby has been around for 48 years! Starting in a basement and growing overtime to have its own storefront and warehouse at 155 New Boston St. (Unit T), Woburn, MA.

    The plan: to post twice a month once on homebrewing and once on winemaking. Discussing a new topic each month. If you have specific questions or topics that you’re interested in learning more about message me on Facebook or email the store at bwhinfo@beer-wine.com .

    This month will be a bit wonky with there being three posts and all of which being back to back. Next month the blog posts will be on the first and third Monday of each month.

    Coming this month: the different kinds of homebrewing and winemaking.

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