Friday, June 27, 2014

Brewing in a Bag? My BIAB Setup

To novices or people who have never brewed before and read my first two posts, and/or watched the AHA videos I linked to; those both detailed extract brewing. Essentially a malt house converts malted grain (mashes) into fermentable sugars (wort), and either reduces the wort to a syrup (liquid malt extract) or dehydrates it to powdered form (dry malt extract).

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Making better extract beer

One of the best resources for homebrewers, especially newbies is the website and message boards on You can find me on there under the name of our brewery BleacherBrewing. They have a massive database of recipes, boards dedicated to any beer or brewing topic imaginable, and lots of users who are experienced brewers willing to offer their advice. Chances are if you were to look at the most recent threads a good portion are newbies introducing themselves or asking questions.

The ingredients from my first ever batch! All that's missing is the 1lb
of crystal malt that came with the kit. 

When we started and were either brewing all extract batches, or extract with some specialty grains, our beers were good, but seemed darker, sweeter, and not as hoppy as I had hoped. One thread I found in particular on HomebrewTalk solved a lot of those problems by offering 10 tips on making better extract beers. Some of the steps we were doing already, and in a post for another day I'll touch on number ten. The big changes I made were larger boils and late extract additions.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Welcome to my new blog! Brewing your own beer at home is an amazing hobby. It is unique in that you can get as involved in it as you would like, or your time and budget allows. You will never have a fresher beer than a beer you brew yourself. Cracking open your first homebrew is a moment you will remember forever. You will be amazed that you made something like that yourself, and your friends and family will be even more so.

Sharing your homebrew with family, friends and new friends is rewarding in and of itself. I passed out bombers to several co-workers, and one went so far as to even give me a hug. I also scored points with my boss, which is never a bad thing either. The holidays are also easy. If somebody gave you an amazing, hand-crafted homemade beer, wouldn't you be thrilled?

Many homebrewers get their start with a simple and easy kit like Mr. Beer. Everything you need to get started is included, and you will be able to make fine beers at home.

Plenty of folks are perfectly content with making kits with this kind of setup. However, if you want to go beyond the refills that are available with kits like Mr. Beer, or even experiment with your own recipes, you will need a more flexible setup. Every homebrewing website and local shop will have kits for the beginner. The closest homebrew supply shop to us in the North Shore is Beer & Wine Hobby in Wouburn. They're located about five minutes off Route 128, so it's an easy ride if you avoid rush hour.

I got my start with this kit. I had a feeling we would outgrow a Mr. Beer type setup in a hurry. My girlfriend loves to cook and come up with new food recipes all the time. After brewing the beer that came with the kit, we started tinkering right away. There are literally tons of recipe kits you can buy that will work with a starter kit like this if you're not ready to make that leap. I know plenty of brewers who are happy to stick with proven recipe kits. Like I said, you can be as involved as you want with this hobby.

I won't bore everyone with step-by-step instructions on how to brew beer. Whatever starter kit you buy will come with instructions. There are also classes you can take and online videos you can watch. The American Homebrewers Association has a series of excellent videos that walk you through the process to brew your first extract batch.

After buying my first starter kit a couple years ago, I wouldn't say I let homebrewing take over my life, but some people might! As the "Would-be Brewmaster" I'm not claiming to be an expert. To paraphrase HHH and Stephanie McMahon I'm probably a "B+" brewer at best. More of my beers have been good than bad. Some, I feel, are genuinely excellent, while a few gushed like the volcano we all made for our elementary school science fair.

As we go, I'll be chronicling what's brewing, offering tips from my experience, and, if there are any experts out there who have advice for me, I'd love to hear that, too. Since homebrewing and the craft beer movement go hand-in-hand, I'm sure we'll touch on that too without infringing on The Beer Nut's turf.


Follow me on Instagram  @wouldbebrewmaster
Like  The Would-be Brewmaster on Facebook 
Share what beers you are drinking with me on Untappd