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Brew Your Own Beer

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Get started with a home-brewing kit from Austin Homebrew Supply.

By Rachel Merriman

hopsHome-brewing myth #1: If brewing your own beer were easy, everyone would do it. Right?

As it turns out, brewing your own beer isn’t as complicated as it might seem. Whether you’re already an experienced brewer or just starting out, Austin Homebrew Supply is here to help. They’ve been helping home-brewing devotees make their own beer since 1992, long before the craft-beer craze hit Austin.

“The craft-beer scene in Austin has grown a lot in the past five years,” remarks Jon Airheart, Austin Homebrew Supply’s marketing director.

Home brewing has many perks, the most notable of which is complete control of taste. If you think you have a cool idea for a beer, you can experiment with an initial recipe and adjust it to your preferred tastes. If you have a favorite commercial beer, breweries often release small-batch recipes designed for home-brewers, so you can have the experience of making your own beer and still be able to drink one you already love. Austin Homebrew Supply has more than 1,000 recipes available, some of which are the “clone recipes” that mimic commercial beers, and others are original recipes they’ve developed throughout the years.

“It’s a lot like cooking, and the possibilities are endless,” Airheart says.

Typically, a very basic home-brewing process goes something like this:

1. Steep grains, much like you would a tea, for about 45 minutes.

2. Bring to a boil and add the malt extract and hops.

3. Boil for about one hour.

4. Once the boiling time is done, cool the mixture to 80 degrees quickly, using an ice bath or a nifty device called a wort chiller.

5. Once the mixture has cooled off to less than 80 degrees, add the yeast (or “pitch” the yeast, in brewer’s lingo). Making sure not to add the yeast until the mixture is less than 80 degrees is especially important, otherwise, the heat will kill the yeast and impede proper fermentation.

6. Transfer the soon-to-be-beer into a fermentation tank.

7. Try to wait six weeks for fermentation to take place inside the tank, where the yeast will eat the sugar and give the beer its alcohol content. If you don’t wait long enough, you’ll end up with a sweeter beer. Will it be awful? Not necessarily, says Airheart. You’ll just end up with something that tastes a little off.

Needless to say, it’s pretty hard to completely mess up a batch of home-brew, especially since Austin Homebrew Supply sells kits complete with detailed instructions that make the whole process easy. You can usually get started for about $200. Eventually, this initial investment will pay for itself and you’ll feel good about reducing your environmental impact since you’ll be recycling bottles with each batch you brew. Most home-brewing setups are about five gallons, but Airheart suggests opting for a few of the one-gallon kits the store sells so you can experiment with a few different recipes at a time. After your first batches are done, invite some friends over for a beer tasting and enjoy your first endeavor in to home-brewing.

To sign up for a home-brewing class at Austin Homebrew Supply or buy a starter kit of your own, visit austinhomebrew.com.

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