This guest post is by Michael Farrell.
The best part of home brewing beer is sharing it with friends. Let me tell you how I got started with home brewing. I purchased my first homebrew kit in 1993. Five years later I moved out of the college which I was attending (University of Texas), but my homebrew kit did not make the move with me, it ended up in the dumpster bin. I realized that the idea of home brewing was great, but the know-how is even greater and much more important. Fast forward 10 years later, I have a neighbor that home brews, along with being fortunate living close to Austin Homebrew. They sell all the kettle equipment, grains, hops, fermenters and everything you would need for home brewing. The employees working there are knowledgeable about home brewing and are more than willing to share the information if you ask the right questions and listen. With the assistance of my neighbor I was able to navigate through the store without looking like a complete idiot. The very same night, I began to work on my first batch of homebrew and haven’t stopped since! Here is a pilsner I brewed and I called it ‘Bout Time Pils’, because lagering takes longer.
I try to challenge myself with each batch by trying a new style, using new equipment and trying new methods. My first batch was called “extract brewing”. Shortly thereafter, I came across a book as most home brewers have, John Palmers ‘How to brew’*, (*Affiliate Link) which is the holy grail of reading material for beginning and advanced home brewers. I became intrigued with how much a home brewer can affect the end result of beer. You can simply follow instructions but the same brewer using the same exact ingredients will not produce the same exact beer. Shortly thereafter, I moved my way up to mini-mashing and then recently all-grain brewing which uses processes such as batch sparging to extract all the fermentable sugars from the grains producing the sweet wort. With all these different methods the only commonality is it starts and ends with sanitization. It is important to make sure your time and efforts do not go to waste by keeping everything clean and sanitized. There is nothing worse than waiting months for a bad batch of beer.
My newest enlightenment comes with understanding the basics of water, our local city (Austin) tap water, reverse osmosis water and the effects soft or hard water have on beer, and certain chemical modifications that can enhance the quality and taste of your very own beer. I’m still very young in my home brewing experience. I hope to begin kegging, enter some home brew competitions, milling my own grains and harvesting my own yeast. Heck maybe even someday I will grow my own hops. The possibilities are limitless and every step you take in the home brew process adds your own unique signature that will hopefully be remembered when sharing amongst friends.
After it all that is the best part about beer.
Michael Farrell can be reached on Twitter @SpiersBrewingCo