Most of the world is in the middle of a renaissance of sorts when it comes to DIY, or Do It Yourself. Activities that most of the people in the world performed at one time or another as chores or out of necessity are now done for recreation. Increasingly this includes making beer, wine and other products at home. Home brewing and home winemaking are massively popular all around the world as a fun and social activity that yields something that nearly every culture embraces: alcohol! There are clubs dedicated to the social aspect of homebrew, festivals, conferences and other gatherings where sharing, talking and learning take place in a fun and friendly atmosphere. If you have ever sipped a glass of beer or wine and thought “I wonder how this is made” or “I bet I could make this better” then continue reading and prepare to be addicted to a great new hobby.
Making Your Own Wine
Making very good wine at home is really quite simple. There are two main ways to do it, and wine making only needs to be as difficult as the winemaker wants to make it. Kits containing bags of juice, buckets of fresh juice, or fresh grapes can be purchased and turned into “must” – the term for unfermented juice. Other than that, all you really need is some cleaner and a sanitizer (they are not the same thing), some vessels for fermenting, tools to measure density and temperature and a way to clarify and package the finished product. You’ll also need some yeast to convert the sugars in the juice to wine. You can buy all of this from any number of brick and mortar or online stores that sell wine making supplies. Some of these stores may also offer classes or assistance if you need it and can be a great resource. Most wine can be ready to drink in 4-8 weeks, depending on style, with some requiring a year or more of ageing. If you’d prefer to make your own wine with assistance, there are many locations that allow you to create the wine on their premises with their equipment for a fee.
Make Your Own Beer Locations
Making your own beer is not necessarily harder than wine, the process is just a little different and a little more involved. Generally, it is also a little faster with beer being turned around in 2-4 weeks or so. There are several kinds of locations that can help you make your own beer:
- Brick and mortar homebrew stores
- Brew on premises stores
- Online homebrew shops
Each of these has their own place in assisting the homebrewer, depending on how advanced that homebrewer is. Brand new, first batch homebrewers should seek out a brick and mortar or brew on premises store. These have very knowledgeable and in-person staff to help teach you the basics. In the case of brew on premises stores, there is likely equipment that is available for rent and space for your beer to ferment outside of the home. Online stores are great for ordering specialty or bulk ingredients, especially with some of the sales they offer.
The very first time you try to make your own beer you will likely be using a beer making kit. There are a number of different kinds available for purchase and just like wine there are options for ingredients. Most beginner kits contain several kinds of Malt Extract, dry or liquid, hops and yeast. This is a great place to start for true beginners. After a few of these home brewed beer kits, switching to using 100% malted barley may be the next step. This allows for much better control over the quality and flavor of the beer, as well as recipe customization. However, there is nothing wrong with continuing to brew with extracts and some people make award winning homebrew using extract. The process involves combining extract or malted barley with hot water, then boiling, adding hops, cooling and adding yeast to the “wort” or sugary liquid when the grain is removed. Then after a short fermentation and conditioning period the beer is ready to drink!
Getting into making your own beer or wine at home is a very rewarding hobby that yields a great product. Friends and family alike will likely be surprised at the quality of your beer or wine after you have the first few batches under your belt. Keep at it, join some groups and don't be afraid to experiment.