And if, after reading this, you still want to give it a go, we’ve also prepared a complete guide on how to brew beer at home, with everything you need to know, from the materials to the ingredients, the stages of preparation and the bottling—complete with photos!
1. Can you make beer in your kitchen?
Oh, yes! Our recipe has been designed so that all the steps can be done in a kitchen and using the utensils we have on hand. This means brewing less beer at a time and buying accessories separately, including a 20-cup (5 litre) or more fermenter—which are usually included in the basic kits and have a capacity of 6 gallons (23 litres). A smaller fermenter is less cumbersome and can be stored in the bottom of a cupboard during fermentation.
2. How much do you expect to pay for the equipment?
The initial cost is approximately $100 for the basic equipment, which includes the fermenter, siphon, densimeter, mechanical cork, bottles, etc. As for the ingredients—grains, malt extract, hops, yeast—it’s about $15 per brew. Our recipe yields 8 x 16 oz (500 ml) beers, less than $2 per beer. You don’t make beer with the idea of saving money: you do it for the experience and the satisfaction you get from tasting “your” homemade beer.
3. Where do you buy the material and ingredients for brewing?
You’ll find everything you need in beer and wine shops. Must International in Montreal is one of the addresses frequented by amateur brewers. La Cachette du Bootlegger in the West Island and the Atelier Bière et Vin in Longueuil, as well as La Boutique Lab and Le Brasseur Cellier, both in Quebec City, are other places to go to get equipped.
4. Should beginners choose to start with a particular beer and brewing method?
For a more pleasurable experience, it’s better to choose a recipe with a simplified way of doing things. For example, an India Pale Ale, Pilsner, Stout or Session Ale is easy to brew. Ready-to-use kits that combine all the concentrates and extracts needed for brewing are practical when you’re learning. The all-grain method, however, allows the authenticity lover to experience the process from A to Z. Nicolas’s recipe uses both crushed grains and malt extract.
5. What are the precautions you should take to make a successful brew?
The safety of the workspace and equipment is paramount. To prevent unwanted microorganisms (yeasts, bacteria) from contaminating the must, all instruments that need to be in contact with the must should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The Star San© sanitizer is an easy-to-use rinse-free product. It is diluted and sprayed on the surfaces that need to be treated, then left to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
6. How long does it take for the beer to be ready?
It all depends on the recipe, the amount of beer brewed and the method. In our case, allow about 2 hours to prepare the must before it’s transferred to the fermenter. Then allow 21 days for the fermentation phase and add another 2 weeks for the maturation phase that follows the bottling. In short, 5 weeks is the time you will have to wait before tasting your first beer, but as they say, it’s worth the wait!
7. Does the room temperature where the brew is stored during the fermentation phase need to be controlled?
Yes...and no. Although the optimum temperature for the fermentation of our seasonal beer recipe is 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), a range of variations between 66 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (19 and 24 degrees Celsius) will not affect fermentation. However, yeasts that metabolize sugars are most active at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).
8. How long does our seasonal beer keep for?
Our homemade seasonal beer can be stored for up to 3 months in a temperate place, away from light. Beer is sensitive to light, especially hops—the main ingredient responsible for taste—which is why we prefer to bottle in amber glass.