I am the beer-making queen. All bow down before me. Not only have I completed my second challenge (and thanks, Cat, it was a great one) but I’ve managed to perform some kind of alchemy, creating a dark red, extremely fizzy beer from a pale ale kit. Magic.
Here are my top tips on how to brew the perfect beer*:
- Buy a kit that’s in date – not one which expired in 2014.
- If you do buy an out of date kit, follow the excellent advice on thehomebrewforum.co.uk and buy some new yeast – don’t just think about it for a while and then decide the expired yeast is ‘probably fine’.
- Make sure you sterilise your equipment – this requires more than a quick wipe with some fairy liquid.
- Measure everything carefully – don’t assume that doing things ‘by eye’ is always the best way.
- Make sure you use an airlock on your fermentation barrel – or you will wake up the next morning with a barrel that looks like it’s going to explode. You’ll panic, take the lid off and let in a load of air, probably infecting your brew in the process.
- Leave the beer alone during primary fermentation – don’t keep peeking under the lid.
- Use a hydrometer to accurately calculate when to start the secondary fermentation – don’t take the hydrometer out of the box, decide it looks too complicated and put it back.
- Measure out the priming sugar so that each bottle is the same – or don’t, and every bottle will be a new surprise.
- Carefully decant the beer into the bottles, reducing contact with the air/other contaminants – don’t spill it all over your self/kitchen before it makes its way into the bottles. And be warned that throwing the trub down the bath will make your flat smell of beer for quite a while.
- Leave the bottles in a warm place for 2 days and then a cool, dark place for a further 2 weeks – don’t just leave it on a bookshelf in your flat for the hottest four weeks of the year.
- After the secondary fermentation is complete, open and enjoy with friends in a classy, civilised manner – don’t crack a bottle open a few days early after a night out. Especially if alcohol makes your friends ‘more honest’.
And there you have it. Delicious beer for everyone.
*Although I’m counting this as ‘challenge completed’, I am getting a friend who knows his stuff to teach me how to make beer properly, with hops and measurements and airlocks and all the things I didn’t do this time round, so watch this space for (hopefully) more successful future experiments in home brewing…