I am a freelance writer and photographer from Sydney who has now had five books published on fishing. I also write for the NSW Fishing Monthly, Visit the Shire, Fisho App & Tackle Tactics.
I also like to travel and experience new things to do.
Published March 26th 2015
Learn how to brew your own beer and cider. Now everyone that knows me knows that I like a drop of beer every now and then, and when the opportunity came up to be invited as a guest to learn how to make my own I jumped at it.
Because I had never brewed anything before I deceided to attend the Basic Brewers Class on Wednesday the 25th of March to see what I could learn and whether I was going to get into brewing my own beer in the future.
The Hop and Grain Brew Store. Photo courtesy of the business.
The Hop and Grain Brew Store is the Inner West's very own homebrew store. They stock everything that you need to get started on your next brew, from basic starter kits to all grain brewers. They also offer 4 different levels of classes, private events and tastings as well as homebrew supplies and equipment.
The Hop & Grain Stores new premises at 50 Sydney Road Marrickville.
Come learn everything you need to make your own homebrew beer. They will demonstrate the basics using a starter kit, followed by a Q&A session. Learn how to care for your equipment, improve on a basic canned "beer concentrate" kit with grain infusions, malt extracts, brew enhancers, finishing hops and other beer goodness.
This class is specifically designed for people who have never brewed before or have only just started out. All you need to bring is yourself and if you're lucky, you might get to try something they have prepared earlier!
Cost is $30 pp $2.79 fee
Intermediate Brewers Class.
If you're bored of brewing with can kits and want to take the next step to extract brewing, then this is the class for you! They will take you through a 5L boil adding your own bittering, flavouring, aroma hops and steeping grain. Learn to brew from a recipe and make your own beer. Plus they take you through some brewing software so you can create your own recipes.
This class is specifically designed for people who have brewed before but have never done extract. NOTE: this is not all-grain brewing. This is the step between can kits and all grain. All you need to bring is yourself and if you're lucky you might get to try something they have prepared earlier!
Cost is $40 pp $3.39 fee
Brew in a Bag for Intermediate to Advanced Home brewers.
This class is essentially an introduction into all-grain brewing, using the brew-in-bag method. This class demonstrates a simple jump from kits and extracts, into brewing a beer from base ingredients with affordable equipment.
They will demonstrate how to put together an all-grain recipe on brewing software, mash, boil and no-chill your beer before you pop it into a fermenter. The class will include plenty of opportunities for Q&A session, as well as a couple tasters of beer and some snacks.
This class is specifically designed for people who are looking to expand on their brewing knowledge and begin brewing from malts, hops, grains, water and yeast, instead of concentrates and extracts. They recommend a basic brewing knowledge such as can kit and extract brewing to understand the concepts. All you need to bring is yourself and maybe a pen and paper to take some notes to refer back to later.
Cost is $60 pp $4.59 fee.
Advanced All Grain Kegging for Home brewers.
Come and learn everything you need to know to make your own all-grain beer, from grains, malts, hops and water in our 3 vessel "RIMS" electric brewing system. The crew will also show you how to set up a kegging system and how to take a finished beer from fermenter to keg.
They will demonstrate how to put together an all-grain recipe on brewing software, mash boil and ferment, and finally keg, carbonate and serve a finished beer. Class will include plenty of opportunities for Q&A session as well as a taster or two of some we've prepared earlier along with a sausage sizzle.
This class is specifically designed for people who have brewed before and they recommend that you have some experience with all-grain or extract brewing.
On the night of our (Andrew and I) we were greeted by Sam Mealing (beer brewer extraordinaire) and Lyndal, his assistant for the night, who also works at the Hop and Grain Brew store. There was a full class of 16 other eager students who wanted to find out more about how to start brewing their own beer. Some of who had already dabbled in brewing their own batches and who wanted to improve their techniques.
Sam going through the paces of the Basic Brewing class.
After a couple of introductions, Sam was straight into it going through the equipment and ingredients that you would need to put together your own 20 plus litres of home brewed Hop & Grain beer. As suggested, I took along a pen and paper to start writing down some notes that I could use for future reference when Andrew and I were going to make our own first batch of home brewed beer.
Sam started with, "This is a good sized bucket, and you also need a fermenter and a sediment reducer. Don't forget you also need a grommet, hydrometer, carbonator and a sanitiser". This is when I started to get confused, and believe me sometimes I am easily confused.
So this is when I ditched the pen and paper and started to watch, listen and learn. It was at this time that Sam stated that we all need a beer. I couldn't have agreed more.
Lyndal pouring Andrew his first home brew of the class.
Once I started to concentrate and watch what Sam was demonstrating I started to learn so much more of what you needed to do, and in what order you needed to do it in.
At the end of the demonstration of about an hour, there was approximately 21 litres of brew that was ready to put into the fridge for a minimum of 5 days and up to 14 days before it was to be bottled. Sam stated that you usually bottled your beer between 2 to 4 weeks, leaning more towards the 4 weeks.
After approximately 50 minutes Sam had 22 litres destined for the fridge to work its magic.
So what was some of the things that I learnt on the night?
• Make sure that you sterilise everything you use, including your hands.
• You will make a bit of a mess so make sure you have some drop sheets down.
• Take your time and concentrate on what you are doing.
• Have a list prepared of the steps you have to do.
• Make sure the brew is kept at the correct temperature throughout the fermenting time.
• Make sure the air lock is working.
• Monitor the temperture.
• use the hydrometer every 24hrs to check for the correct fermentation.
• If you do screw it up and the batch tastes awful, you can always bring one of the bottles into Sam and his crew will help you go through the steps you have done to try and narrow down to hopefully work out what went wrong.
• Take a pen and paper and ask questions at the end and then write them down.
• Don't forget to read the instructions that are supplied with the kit.
Make sure that you clean everything as you go. You don't want any bacteria getting into the brew.
All this for $89.95 and it makes 20 plus litres of beer. That's approximately 30 long necks, 60 stubbies (two & a half cartons) or 85 glasses of beer (depending on the size of the glass). How good is that?
The good thing about buying one of these kits is that you don't have to buy the kits again, as all you need to get is the ingredients, and the really good thing about this is that you can experiment with the amount of the ingredients to come up with your own personnel tasting brew.
Now as a bit of a guide (depending on what you want to brew), it will cost you about $20 to $25 to buy the replacement ingredients to match your next batch.
There are a couple of other items that you will need to have, but once you have them you won't have to purchase again. They are as follows:
• A kettle to boil the water. • A spray bottle for the sanitiser. • A coffee plunger. • A towel for holding the tin that you have poured boiling water into.
If you think about it, once you have made your first batch, the cost will come down even more per bottle. How good is that?
Not only do they carry out classes on how to brew your own beer and cider, you can purchases all the ingredients and equipment needed to make your own.
They have the following online to order or come in and buy in-store:
• Starter, Beer, Cider and Wine making kits. • Extracts and sugars. • Fermentation equipment. • Bottling Equipment. • Cleaning Equipment. • All grain equipment. • Grain, Hops & Yeast. • Testing Equipment. • Kegging. • Fresh Worts Kits. • Cheese and Preserving. • Distillation. • Books on how to brew.
All of this can be brought on-line and shipped to your place for a fee or you can go to the store and buy it there.
So, if you are ever thinking about learning how to brew your own beer or increasing your knowledge on how to perfect that special batch of beer, you should think about either booking into one of Sam's classes or calling into the Hop and Grain Brew Store at 50 Sydney Street, Marrickville and discuss which type of class would be better for you to do.
Should I buy a kit first or do a Basic Brewing class first. My suggestion would be to do a class first if you have never brewed your own before.