Brewing for the beginner, an overview
Brewing is one of those hobbies that can turn a normal person into a ‘Nerd’ in a good way !
The actual process of turning sugars into alcohol is incredibly simple, but making a good tasty beer, wine or spirit is another matter completely.
In most cities in the UK there are shops that sell brewing kits, think ‘Wilkinsons’ or ‘Boots’ stores, I am sure there are equivalents in every western country.
If you want to try it out, buy one of the kits and follow the instructions and in a few weeks you will have a nice keg of beer or demijohn of wine.
The real skill comes in producing something above average, anything that comes from a kit will be palatable but to produce wine like ‘Chateau Neuf’ or beer like ‘Marstons’ will take time, patience and above all practice.
Starting with water, sugar and yeast you can produce alcohol, if you use grape juice (or other fruit juice) and the right type of yeast you end up with wine, using malted grains, yeast and water you end up with Beer.
The biggest difference between beer and wine (unless you are trying to produce a sparkling wine) is that for a wine you need to vent the Carbon Dioxide created in the brewing and stop the yeast from fermenting in the bottle, beer needs some fermentation in the bottle to give it the bubbles.
You will fail occasionally and end up with wine vinegar (or beer vinegar) but even that can be useful if you are a cook !
The hardest part of brewing is the waiting, after spending a few hours cleaning all the equipment and getting the fermentation started, the wait while the yeast converts the sugars to alcohol can be several agonising weeks, if the result is to your liking then you will want to try again straight again, if not it can be disheartening, but keep going !
Learn from your accidents and do better next time !