Somewhere between going on my first tour of an American craft brewery to tasting the best beer of my life at a monastery in Prague, I fell in love with well-crafted beers. After I experienced the delicate, perfect balance of hops, malt, yeast, and water in great beer, I couldn’t go back to the watery mass-produced stuff.
It’s easy to get swept away by great beers on tap in your local pub, but the best part about beer is that you can start your own brewery. All you need are a few ingredients and supplies to become the brewmaster of your own kitchen!
I’ve never brewed my very own batch before, but I’ve assisted with homebrew experimentation and it’s a fun process that, with some patience, can yield some very delicious results. To get started homebrewing on your own, check out Dave Miller’s Homebrewing Guide to learn all the basics. If you’re already into homebrew and looking to take your beer to the next level, The Home Brewer’s Answer Book by Ashton Lewis covers everything from specific hops and grains to achieving the perfect pour when your beer is ready to serve.
Here’s a homebrew recipe for one of my personal favorites, Dale’s Pale Ale, from the 365 Bottles of Beer Page-A-Day Calendar.
American Pale Ale
Recipe for five gallons
8 oz. light caramel malt
6 lb. pale malt extract syrup
1½ oz. Northern Brewer hops, 60 minutes from end of boil
1 oz. Cascade hops, 15 minutes from end of boil
1 oz. Cascade hops, 5 minutes from end of boil
American or California ale yeast
1 oz. Cascade hops, dry-hopped in secondary fermenter
¾ cup corn sugar for bottling
Crack or crush grains. Bring three gallons water to 160°F. Steep grains in hot water for 30 minutes using a mesh bag. Remove grains, add dry malt extract and bring to a boil. Boil 60 minutes adding hops as stated. Remove from heat and cool. Siphon into primary fermenter with enough cold water to make five gallons. Add yeast when beer is 70°F and aerate well. Ferment for three to six days at 65-70°F. Transfer to secondary, add dry hops, and condition one to two weeks. When finished, dissolve ¾ cup corn sugar into beer, bottle, and age at room temperature for two weeks.