Home brewing is fairly straightforward. It is essentially an elaborate form of cooking, although it involves a substantial level of planning and attention to detail.
The materials for a batch of approximately 48, 12-ounce bottles costs approximately $25-$40, for a per-serving cost of approximately $.50 to $.85. This is actually more expensive than mass-market domestic lagers (e.g. Budweiser) bought at big-box stores. However homebrewers generally produce richer beer styles (e.g. stout, IPA, hefeweizen) which might cost $1 to $2 per serving at retail.
Homebrewers have the option of either malting their own raw grains through a process called sparging, or purchasing industrially malted grain extract. Raw grain is cheaper and more prevalent than malt extract. However sparging requires bulky specialized equipment, costs some heat energy, and can be error-prone.
Homebrewers usually store their product in 12-ounce glass bottles. Bottles are reusable and can be sealed using an inexpensive "capper" tool and cheap caps. Light damages beer, so darker glass is preferable to lighter glass. Clear glass is acceptable, green is better, and brown is best.
Most people consider glass bottles to be trash, so they can be scavenged for free.
Lager vs ale
The two major categories of beer are ales and lagers. The distinguishing characteristic is the strain of yeast. Ale yeast ferments near the surface of the wort at roughly room temperature. Lager yeast ferments at the bottom of the wort at lower temperatures. Fermenting lagers usually requires a dedicated refrigerator, so homebrewers usually start out with ales.
- Wine making
- How to Brew, book/website by John Palmer
- Basic Brewing Radio
- Example and detailed instructions of how to brew Guiness-style Irish stout