Advanced Homebrewing–Part I

Brewing beer is fun.  I started in 2000 with a couple of brewing kits my friends gave me.  Sadly, my first impression of home brewing was from a friend who botched the recipe.  I had no idea what to expect, but remember tasting yeast sediment and dark beer flavor.

As a high school guy, I would have liked to remember getting a buzz but only feeling sleepy after drinking it.  Later, as my quest for making beer expanded, the internet around the period of 2000 provided a searchable database.  I sought instructions on building equipment or gadgets they called them.  So the Internet beginning as an early source of information as many home brewers shared their equipment and techniques.

Even though the premise of home brewing was to make something different from Bud-Miller-Coors, I actually liked and tried to brew these “light” beers.  I read that this type of style was even harder for simple home brewing methods to master.  But I did as a challenge and development of brewing skills.

Heat Exchange, circulating brew machine, circa 2001

The gadgets I especially liked is the electric home brewing and the heat exchange re-circulation systems (HERMS).  I tried these with limited success but the best gadgets are peices of systems I tried–somehow the part evolved and now part of my brewing tools collection.  And the glass carboy is still the basic of my brewing equipment.  How did I go from kit home brewing to advanced?

  • Extract to all grain brewing: better control of recipes
  • Boil kettle size increased to 60 quarts: full boils for larger batches
  • A fermenter can hold 12 gallons: consistent fermentation
  • Mash tun capacity up to 25 pounds of grain: better control of ingredients and lower cost
  • Wort cooling with tube: quick transfer to fermenter and shorter time to yeast pitching
  • Pump transferring liquids: faster transfer

Later on, I became familiar with the flavor and technique of brewing Belgian beers that were simple ale with less hops and more fermentables,  and not afraid to add candy sugar to attain higher ABV.


The Arizona Brewery, circa 2003

A most advanced brewing technique is the aging and fermentation of sour beer.  The reasons for moving to brewing of sour beer was that I was lazy and also having too much liquid beer around from brewing too often was tempting and possibly a health hazard ie. better to ride the bike then to just relax and have a home brew–as they say.  So the aging process for sour beer to finished product takes more patience.


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