Beer and Food
Although the commercial sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States is strictly controlled by law, hobbyists of legal age can brew their own beer at home for personal enjoyment. For those looking to get into the art of brewing malt beverages, complex supplies and intricate recipes can make the process a challenge. Fortunately, home beer brewing kits are available and can take the guesswork out of beer brewing for beginners and established beverage makers alike.
Buying Home Kits
Home beer brewing kits are considered a specialty item and are generally purchased from hobby stores specializing in home beer supply (see Resources for a link to a directory for locating a store near you) or from online stores. Full beginner's kits will usually include everything a new brewer needs to get started, while more experienced brewers can assemble their own customized kits from the supplies these retailers provide.
Beginner kits may include the ingredients needed for a brewer's first batch of beer, or perishables may be sold separately to allow the brewer to choose a particular kind of beer. Which ingredients are included in a kit depends on the type of beer being made, but a basic kit for a popular beer, such as an ale, will likely include roasted grains, malt extract (a rich syrup resembling molasses to be fermented), hops flowers (bittering and preservative agent) and yeast, either in solid or dry form. Some recipes will also include a special sugar to facilitate the carbonation process.
Basic brewing equipment is likely to consist of two large containers: one for fermentation, one for bottling. The fermentation container has a sealed top with an airlock and thermometer for preserving the beer and measuring its temperature (when brewing, the temperature of the beer must be monitored and kept consistent). Other items that might be included in the kit are a large pot for cooking (though this can be supplied from your kitchen) and equipment and cleansers for sanitizing the brewing apparatus and bottles.
Brewing kits commonly include a capping device and enough uncrimped bottle caps for a first batch. The hand-operated capping device folds the edges of the caps securely around the mouths of the bottles. Bottles themselves can be purchased separately, or brewers can reuse bottles from store-bought beer.
Recipes and Instructions
A home beer brewing kit will include basic instructions. They may be specific to the ingredients included in the kit, or they may simply give the brewer an overview of the process of beer making and the use of the particular equipment in the kit. More complex books about the art of brewing can be purchased from hobby brewing suppliers, but they can also be found in many mainstream bookstores.
Stages of Skill
The most basic beer brewing kits are intended for first-time brewers and designed to keep the process simple. As brewers become more experienced, they can create more of their ingredients from scratch or take on more of the processing themselves. This can include roasting their own malts, creating their own recipes and malting their own barley. Kits, instructions and supplies are available for all stages of a brewer's development.