with the occasional rant about tin openers...

So you wanna Home Brew, eh?

"Jees, will that be enough, lad?"
said one to the other. "Never fear,
there's more out back".
Homebrewing is not something you need a PhD for, though it will improve the look of your labels when you take bottles to parties (something like "Dr Death's Brain-bashing Bitter" I would have thought). Homebrewing is simple. If you can make a pot noodle, you can make a homebrew. In fact, making 5 gallons of pot noodle is probably a lot tougher than making a similar amount of beer. So, what’s it aaaaall about?

Generally, you start off with a tin. It’s the perfect way in to homebrewing. By following the easy instructions on the tin which are (for people not familiar with them, or for those who see reading instructions as an affront to man’s natural problem solving ability, or if you’ve stumbled across this page because I’ve used the words ‘homebrew’ and ‘easy to make’), open the tin, pour contents into sanitised fermenting vessel (or big, very clean bucket), add 1kg of sugar (which is uncanny, seeing as that’s the size packet sugar usually comes in), and some hot water to dissolve. Top up what you got with cold water, stir in yeast, and put it all away for a week. After that agonising wait, siphon your beer into clean bottles with a little bit of sugar, DON’T touch it for a couple more weeks, and then, following the best Pfsssht” of your life, drink. There are so many reasons folk homebrew, and one of them is surely because it’s as easy as taking a swig from a can that someone’s used as an ashtray at a party.

That easy, eh? Well, yes, in exactly the same way as learning a tune on a tin whistle is easy. Sometimes you’re happy with ‘How Much Is Mary’s Little Doggy In The Mulberry Bush’, and sometimes you crave a little more.

Mine's a pint, and
that's a pint of mine!
Once you’re happy you’ve got all you can out of tinned beer, why not try extract brewing? Take a tin, or a bag of malt, add in your own hops, and spend a little more time and energy (ok, money too, but not much), and create something you’ve either read on a homebrew website or book, or mooched from said source. It does require a little more equipment, and perhaps some more know-how, but if you’re interested this far, a little online research will send you in the right direction.

I'm currently exploring All Grain brewing, involving mash tuns, sparges and all-sorts, and after a few frustrating 12 hours session (one stretched as long as 48 hours, as I had to keep leaving the house to do things, like, y'know, work, and like, singing), I've really enjoyed the whole process. However, I still can't wait to order another tin of something.

So far, I’ve used the word party once, and parties twice. Sooo last century. Anyway, bottle conditioned homebrew (beer with yeast in the bottom), which is probably what you’ll have made, doesn’t travel very well, so you’ll need to host this little soiree. If you’re the kind of person that plans a party 4 weeks ahead, then homebrew is for you. If you’re the kind of person who plans a party 4 weeks ahead of time, keep me out of it. I’d much rather sit on my tod, at home watching a Stephen Segal movie with a two-litre bottle of bitter. Actually, that’s not far off the reason I got this into howmbrewing in the first place. We were a little hard up for a while there, and Madame Homebrew got me a full Pilsner kit for Christmas, and I’ve thought of nought else since then. There’d been no precedent for homebrew, ale or anything in my life up till that point, but I seized the idea and ran with it. I used to drink Carlsberg, but I'm alright now.

A pile of crushed, pale malt barley.
You don’t need to be short of cash, disappointed in the state of beer or wear sandals and beards to enjoy homebrewing (though a little beard does improve everything), but if you happen to be interested and fancy giving it a go, a starter kit is generally cheaper than the following:

Gym membership (probably… I really wouldn't know)
Taking your other/better/misc. half out to dinner
DVD boxset
1 Tank of fuel
A round of beers in a hotel.

Seriously, you’d be silly not to.