Homebrewing

From Academic Kids

Homebrewing typically refers to the brewing of beer on a very small scale, as a hobby for personal consumption or small scale distribution at parties or picnics.

Contents

The Process

A typical batch of homebrewed beer is five US gallons (19 l) in volume, which is roughly enough for two cases — or 48 12-ounce (355 mL) bottles — of beer. It is produced by boiling water, malt extract and hops together in a large kettle and then cooling the wort and adding yeast for fermenting. The concentrated wort is filtered into a fermenter that may be filled partly with cold water or ice to bring the wort to proper concentration, and to cool down to pitching temperature (70-75 F or 21-24 C). Often, cooling is aided by a variety of wort chillers consisting of copper tubing through which cold water flows. Because a chiller can be sterilized, it is the preferred method of cooling the wort. Primary fermentation takes place in a bucket or large glass container that vents the carbon dioxide gas produced through a small device called a fermentation lock. As fermentation begins, a layer of sediment appears at the bottom of the fermenter. Often, the beer is siphoned into another fermenter to finish fermentation without the sediment, called trub, because it may lend off flavors.

Once this fermentation subsides, the beer is ready for carbonation. There are two methods of carbonation. The first method does not require much capital expenditure per batch but is more time consuming. About 3/4 cup of corn sugar (dextrose) is added and the beer is transferred to bottles that are then capped, or to a keg. The carbon dioxide produced by fermentation of the priming sugar in the bottles remains in the beer causing carbonation over the course of several weeks. The second method involves forcing carbon dioxide into the keg of beer. The carbonation process occurs almost instantaneously if the beer is cold, reducing wait time by at least one week and reducing labor time.

There are homebrewing kits available that eliminate the need of the first stage boiling. These kits contain wort (sometimes concentrated) and yeast, so all the homebrewer has to do is the fermentation. Generally, the quality of beer from these kits is not at par with beer made from all-grain or even malt extracts.

There are several instruction books available. Some are more detailed than others, but homebrewing can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. The basic process does not require an abundance technical knowledge, however a bit of elbow grease and work is required. Overall, it's not difficult and it can be a satisfying hobby with which to get involved.

Brewing culture

Patience is required in homebrewing. The whole brewing process can take from two weeks to several months or even years, depending on the style of beer. Some enthusiasts brew beer in far larger quantities than the typical 5 gallon batch, sometimes as a prelude to commercial production. It is not unusual for a homebrewer to have several batches in different stages of completion to permit the dispensing of quality homebrew at moment's notice.

Advanced homebrewers often prefer to brew "all-grain" batches of beer, by mashing the grain themselves to reduce starch into sugars needed by the yeast. Such techniques allow a greater control over the final quality of the beer than malt extract brewing. A large vessel called a mash tun holds the water at various temperatures to break the starch in malt into fermentable sugars which become alcohol and dextrines (unfermentable carbohydrates) which give the beer body. The spent grain is removed in a perforated container called a lauter tun and brewing proceeds as normal. Often, homebrewers use one vessel with a perforated false bottom for both mashing and lautering. A hybrid called grain extract, or partial mash uses both home-mashed malt and malt extract. This method is preferable to those who do not want to invest in larger equipment required for all-grain brewing, but would like to experiment with mashing grain.

People homebrew for a variety of reasons. Homebrewed beer can be cheaper than commercially equivalent brews, however most homebrewers customize their recipes to their own tastes, which tends to be more expensive. For instance, hopheads, or fans of bitter beer, can hop their beer far beyond what would normally be considered excessive. Dark beer enthusiasts can create beers that are the antithesis of the commercially dominant paler style. Some homebrewers strive for perfection of specific styles of beer and enter their products in competitions. Others simply brew to have styles of beer on hand to drink and share that are otherwise commercially unavailable, or in an unacceptably poor state when they are available.

Legality

In 1978, US President Jimmy Carter signed into law a bill explicitly allowing home beer and winemaking in the US. However, this only applies at the Federal level as the individual States (http://www.beertown.org/homebrewing/legal.html) are still free to set their own laws concerning beer and wine making. Note that home distillation of alcohol is still illegal in the United States — a situation representing the majority of other countries. Most states in the U.S. permit brewing 50 gallons of beer per person over the age of 21 per household, up to a maximum of 100 gallons per year. Because alcohol is taxed by the federal governments via excise taxes, it is illegal for homebrewers to sell any beer they brew.

See also

External Links

sv:Hembryggning

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