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Homebrewing Part 3 – Ingredients needed for brewing at home

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Over the past few weeks we have been covering brewing at home here in Thailand. The first article in the series looked at the status of home brewing and last week’s article looked into the materials needed in order to brew beer. As we noted in the past few articles, brewing beer in Thailand is illegal. That being said, the fines are actually quite light. So, if you can get access to the materials, you could likely brew your own beer.

If you are brewing at home, and can get the materials, the next step is to look into the ingredients needed to brew beer at home. This week’s article will look into the common ingredients and the two different options home brewers have at their disposal – brewing from a kit and brewing with their own ingredients.

Brewing from a kit

Kit brewing is by far the simplest way to brew beer. In many countries you can go to a brewing store and pick up a kit. These kits usually come in two different types:

  1. Extract kits – These kits are most often used by beginners because they are fairly easy to brew with. They use a malt extract which is created by malting barley and then steeping it in warm water to create wort. The wort is then warmed and concentrated into a syrup like substance. The kits also contain hops and dry or liquid yeast. Some kits even include extra spices and sugar, depending on the type of beer you will be brewing. For the most part, the yield from one kit will be around 19 L.
  2. Partial mash kits – These kits are used by brewers with moderate to high experience and take a little longer to brew with. They will come with extra grains that you will need to boil or ‘mash’ to create a wort and then mix it with malt extract. When brewing using these kits you will need to be able to control the heat to a near exact degree and time things near perfectly – don’t worry, kits often come with detailed instructions. You will also needs more tools like a thermometer and an extra pot to heat water in.

The main difference between the two kits, beside the ingredients, is the skill needed. With extract kits, you need little to no brewing skill or knowledge largely because the tougher tasks such as mashing are already done for you. Of course, extract kits usually won’t turn out super high-quality beer. Don’t get us wrong, it will be drinkable, enjoyable even but it probably won’t be winning any awards.

Brewing using a partial mash kit gives you more control over the quality and flavor because you can control the process a bit further. That being said, if you mash at too high, or low of a temperature, you run the risk of ruining the brew. Luckily, the addition of a malt extract can minimize the chances of this happening.

Brewing from your own ingredients

Some home brewers feel that kits don’t allow them the freedom to experiment and develop their own unique beer. Don’t kid yourself however, these recipes will require time and experience to execute. Plus, some of them may be hard to source here in Thailand. That being said, if you have the time and materials you should be able to brew some excellent beer.

Here is an ingredient list for a simple Pale Ale:

  1. 4 to 4.5 kg of 2-row pale malt.
  2. .23 kg of 60L crystal malt – this is the most common type of crystal malt, with a well medium caramel flavor and sweetness.
  3. 28-29 grams of Centennial hops.
  4. 80-85 grams of Cascade hops.
  5. 37 L of water. – Best not to use tap water here in Thailand, maybe a distilled water instead.
  6. American ale yeast.

The yeast, hops and grains can usually be purchased from online websites and shipped to Thailand, but you may have to pay an import tax. As we stated before, there are some good forums in Asia about brewing and the members there may have more information about where to source the ingredients!

If you are looking to get really adventurous and know where to source ingredients, try looking at either http://beerrecipes.org/ or http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f82/ for a wide variety of recipes to try.

Check back with us next week, we will be looking into the brewing process.

Wish of the week

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