For those of you who don’t want to read back through the history of this blog (can’t say I blame you), here’s a short write-up of how I got to where I am and what I’m planning for the future.

The story so far

After starting my first beer in March 2009 and realising how easy it was to make beer – but not having tasted the first beer yet – I exploded into homebrewing, buying several more primaries (buckets for fermenting beer). For a couple of months I was brewing beer after beer, often having four beers on the go at the same time. Few of them came out the way I wanted – the first beer tasted like sugar; my IPAs were not bitter enough; my Orange Wheat had too much orange. But luckily from my first 15 or so beers there were enough good ones to keep me motivated, and thanks to other homebrewers I knew it was possible to improve and become consistent.

So I resolved to become consistent. I’d already moved away from kit beers and liquid malt extract – that was the first thing I did which improved my beers. The second was to experiment and research. Through my IPAs not being bitter enough, I read extensively about hops and bitterness. I also learned not to trust a recipe for a “famed” beer until I’d tried it for real – and that’s what led me to drinking LOTS of commercial beers.

I soon realised that I couldn’t become consistent without controlled fermentation temperatures – yeast really doesn’t react well to extreme temperatures. Some homebrewers use aircon and chill the entire room (not a bad idea if you store bottles there too), some have built a “son of a fermentation chamber” – I built a fermentation chamber from a mini-fridge, some cool boxes cobbled together, and a thermostat. It’s crude, but it works and only needs to last me this summer. It also made a staggering difference to my beers.

But yet, they were (are) still not perfect. My simple setup wasn’t helping – it had worked OK for small batches or when I was diluting with water, but anything bigger or all grain just exhausted me. And at 2am, weary, faced with wort that I couldn’t get cool enough or a pot half filled with trub, I just wanted the thing finished. The fun had disappeared from making beer. I needed a better setup.

Which brings me to now. Over the last two months I’ve been gathering various bits and pieces. I now have everything (except for a single washer!) that I need to crush grain, mash, sparge, cool, boil, aerate, and, of course, ferment beer. Most of those bits came from other homebrewers selling off gear, group buys, people tracking down suppliers, and homebrewers carrying goods from overseas. I’m hoping that the new equipment will put the fun back into brewing and will give me the next leap forward in the quality of my beers.

Beers I have planned:

  • Axis of Evil IPA – another 100+ IBU IPA
  • Imperial Stout – a style I’ve recently discovered I love drinking
  • Pilsner – last one didn’t really taste like Pilsner but I liked it and want to make it again
  • another Coconut Porter – I liked the last one a lot
  • and maybe another Nest White Ale clone

In the future future I’m thinking about opening up my own brewery, possibly in Scotland. I could open one now – my beers aren’t great yet, but if I call it Dogbrew and spend a shit load on punk marketing, it could probably succeed.