home beer brew

When I lived in London in the late 70’s through the mid 80’s it was common to make your own beer.  Boots, the large pharmacy retailer, sold a beer brewing kit for less than 10 pounds  ($16 at today’s rates) which contained all you needed to make your own beer.  Drinking beer at the pubs was popular and even when you visited friends for a meal, you would before or after the meal, head to the local pub.  However, and I began to dread the moment, your friend would occasionally insist you drink his own brew.  Some were good, most were blemished, including some of my own.

So now, many years later, I have returned to making my own beer.  One reason is I am using yeasts for various other purposes such as making whole wheat bread and I am growing three different types of mushrooms (yes, yeasts are classified in the kingdom of Fungi).  And I like beers, especially dark beers – each evening I have a Trader Joe’s Hofbrau bock.

I ordered equipment and a kit (described as German style dark all malt) and yesterday I began my brew.  Relatively straight forward.  Clean all the equipment which will be used, then heat 1.5 gallons of water and mix in the ingredients and boil for a while.

preparing the malt mixture (wort)

Next step is to move the hot contents to the fermentation vessel, allow it to cool down, add the yeast and leave it alone for a few days.  Here is a ‘photo of my carboy fermentation vessel before adding the yeast.

6 gal glass carboy with airlock before adding yeast


And here is a ‘photo 16 hours after adding the yeast.  The gadget at the top is an airlock which allows the bubbles to escape without admitting outside air, which could contaminate the contents.  The cylinder next to the carboy is an hydrometer which I will use to determine when the beer is ready for bottling.  It measures the specific gravity (“SG”) of the contents.  Alcohol has a lower SG than water and as the yeast ferments and makes alcohol, the SG will fall.  When the SG reaches the accepted range it will be bottling time and “Cheers!”

carboy with brew 16 hours after adding the yeast, the airlock is bubbling


4 thoughts on “home beer brew”

  1. Welcome back to homebrewing! A “Toasty Ale” I brewed last weekend is just slowing down as primary fermentation is finishing as I write, and I’m planning a lovely Porter for the coming weekend. Do yourself a favour and make/steal/buy a chiller of some sort to cool your wort quicker between kettle and fermenter – it’s the most likely time for infection to strike.

    I do think that beer (and wine, and many others besides) is one of the milestone pleasures in a journey towards self-sufficiency…

    Hoppy Brewing! 😉

    1. Good advice. On a related topic I googled “hops growing in Georgia” and got some good guidance on which hops grow best in our hot summers. I ordered 4 different hops plants which I will grow in an afternoon shaded area and, in a year’s time, I may be using my own hops.

  2. In the late 70s and through the 80s making beer was popular in the US as well. Being 15 at the time, and under the legal drinking age, I also took up brewing.

    Perhaps there were proper kits, but in my case I put together most of the pieces myself and purchased cans of ‘Blue Ribbon Hops Flavored Malt Extract’, together with some yeast and corn sugar. It made for quite acceptable beer. I guess when you’re 15 the taste isn’t the most important part, but I even got some positive reactions from others who tried it.

    I’ve never gone back to making it myself, but sometimes I think about it. I’ve just got too many other ongoing projects, and not enough space in the house.

    1. After 14 days fermentation, with frequent tastings required when I tested the specific gravity, I have now bottled the brew (42 bottles) and to me it tastes great. A few of my running buddies have asked for a bottle and I shall either get approbation or silence, which I shall probably attribute to a less refined palate and the upside being more beer for me. Or will I be deluding myself?

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