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Learning at Work Week 2021 – Learning on the Job with Homebrew

Andrew Leedham, our Senior Marketing Manager, joined Muntons in September 2020. With a love for beer (as well as golf and chocolate), Andrew was more than happy to roll his sleeves up and learn more about our homebrew kits, all in the name of work!

So, as part of Learning at Work Week, we asked Andrew to put together his own beginners’ guide to home brewing.

Let’s look at the equipment we need to make our own beer:

  • Sterilising agent
  • 23L Fermenting bucket
  • Long stirring spoon
  • Siphon tube
  • Bottles and caps OR pressure barrel
  • Starter kits available from Love Brewing:

Early watch-out; sanitise!

As a new homebrewer, I could *not* wait to get sanitisation out of the way and start putting the ingredients together. Don’t fall into this trap! Homebrewing is a science with live yeast feeding off its environment, so poor sanitisation will lead to off flavours, smells and potentially an infected wort. None of which makes for the perfect pint.

To avoid any contamination, ensure that you sterilise all the equipment before using it. The most efficient way to do this:

  • Fill the 23L fermenting bucket 1/3 full and add in the sterilising agent to the instructed ratios
  • Put all the non-fragile equipment used for brewing in the bucket (e.g. long stirring spoon, any measuring containers that will be used)
  • Secure the lid and shake well for 20 seconds
  • Before emptying the fermenting bucket. Dip the thermometer and hydrometer in the solution to and place down on a clean surface.
    Simple tip: Use the bucket lid turned upside down.

Now you’re ready to get brewing!

For my first kit, I brewed a Geordie Bitter on the advice of my colleagues; a relatively simple brewing process that consistently delivers outstanding quality homebrewed beer.

For your first few attempts at homebrewing, follow the ingredients and instructions to the letter. The flavour is packed within the malt extract and therefore you will want to get every drop out of the can.

Here are my top tips:

  • Before opening, sit the cans in hot water. The heat will make it easier to pour the extract
  • The cans will be hot, so use oven gloves or a tea towel to pour the extract into the fermenting bucket
  • Pour hot water into the cans and swirl to get the last remaining extract out

Mixing the ingredients:

Don’t disregard the importance of this step. If the ingredients aren’t mixed properly, it will affect the flavour of your homebrew:

  • Be persistent and keep stirring the ingredients for a good five minutes
  • Scrape the bottom of the fermenting bucket with the long stirring spoon to ensure you dissolve all the ingredients
  • Add the remaining liquid and ensure that the temperature is ideal for fermentation before adding your yeast. If it’s too hot, this will shock the yeast, giving you a poor fermentation and off-flavours
  • If you are in doubt that your thermometer has become dirty again, re-sanitise! The five minutes it takes to do this, is a better option than contaminating your wort and having to throw it away. This is a waste of your time and money!
  • Once at the correct temperature, note the original gravity before adding your yeast

Fermentation:

Patience is key; always go by the hydrometer and don’t rush! Kits will ferment quickly if kept at the constant optimum temperature. For the typical homebrewer creating the magic in their kitchen or garage, this is not always possible. Your kit will come with an original gravity and final gravity figure in the instructions.

It’s important that you don’t start bottling until it has reached the final gravity.

Bottling & conditioning:

You’re nearly there, but there are still important tasks to do, including more sanitising! You’ve come this far, so don’t get caught out now; make sure you sanitise:

  • All bottles and crown caps
  • Siphon tube
  • Bottling wand (if using one)
  • Always add carbonation drop of priming sugar
  • Tip the bottles upside down to ensure they are airtight
  • Once bottled, keep the bottles in a warm place for another 2-3 days to ensure a good carbonation. After this, move your bottles to somewhere to chill

Cheers!

Now enjoy your home brewed beer!