Sunday, November 18, 2012


I’ve been meaning to get into this beer brewing thing for quite a while, but always seem to put off getting the required kit, and the lack of a decent brew store in Wellington hasn’t helped much. But we now have The Brew House in Newtown a great little brew supply shop, determined to change the procrastination habit I made my way from Karori to Newtown and bought myself a starter kit, I figured if I started off with a beer for dummies kit it would be foolproof and build up a bit of brewers confidence setting me off to try more advanced brewing techniques.

I followed the instructions and all was going well until I started thinking about what my next brew could be, I found many homebrew forums, and they left me with severe doubts about the supplied kit instructions, there are so many pages and posts online about just how bad kit instructions are, which led me to throwing away the supplied instruction sheet, which advised the beer would be ready to bottle in 5–7 days, and ready to drink in a couple of weeks, I ended up brewing the beer in the fermenter for a total of 23 days, the last half the Gravity had been stable, but the flavours weren’t they were developing mellowing becoming something a lot more pleasant than what they were on day 7.

I finally got the brew in the bottle, possibly the most tedious thing in the world washing and sterilising 30 bottles, I still have 2 weeks before I can chuck a couple of bottles in the fridge to have a taste, and realistically I’m not expecting to really start drinking it for another 3 weeks (four in total).

Much research and thought has gone into the next brew, I was fortunate to find a The Brewers Friend website which has a recipe calculator, you put in what style of beer you want to make, and then the grains, malt, hops and it will tell you how far off the style you are. I’ve decided on making an APA (American pale ale), a not too strong (6%) hoppy ale. I’ve also decided to up technical difficulty, I’m going to do a partial mash, which is steeping milled grains in hot water (about 65ºC) converting the starch in the grain to fermentable sugars through an enzymatic reaction, I had contemplated doing a full mash but as it is my first go and I don’t know how successful or what at efficiency I’ll be converting starch to sugar1, I’m also adding a dry or liquid malt extract to cover my arse a bit.

The batch after that, I’m not sure yet, the other half wants to try cider so that could be a goer, I’m already contemplating getting another fermenter barrel so I can do a secondary fermentation of the APA with hops, which will add a nice floral aroma and also help clarify the beer more. All going to plan once the first batch is ready to drink I should be brewing enough to keep us stocked up with beer and never have to buy it again, not that I won't, there are too many good artisan brewers in Wellington and too many good bars serving them on tap, I’m looking at you Hop Garden and Fork & Brewer.

1. I managed to get 60% conversion of starch


  1. Ah, you've gone American over-complication. Ignore them :)

    1) Don't believe the times kit instructions give you. They're there to encourage that first brew.

    2) Time in the bottle is well spent. Weeks, not days. Months, not weeks. Really, it gets better.

    3) Make a brew, taste it, change one thing. There's loads of time before you join the Lions :)

    4) Honest, don't start following those US home-brew sites. That way lies madness :) .

    1. Taking the forums with a grain of salt, if I took them to seriously I'd go insane with the amount of conflicting information. But they did go on about patience which fortunately I do have, I'm looking forward to see how the flavour develops over time as it conditions in the bottle.

      I've just put my second brew in the fermenter on Sunday, I did do a partial mash, a lot of work, but quite rewarding, especially as it was my brew rather than just kit. I wont find out how it turns out for a few months though.

  2. Cool - I love The Brew House and get all my cheese making supplies from there. Beer-making sounds like a fascinating process.

    1. It's a great little shop, going to enjoy my many many visits there. I'm really enjoying the beer making, it's nice listening to the airlock bubble away as it ferments. I fear it has become an addiction as I am already planning my 3rd batch, and planning on getting another fermenter and I haven't even tried my first batch of beer yet!