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Homebrew guide

Homebrewing is the brewing of beer, wine, mead, cider, and other beverages through fermentation on a small scale as a hobby for personal consumption, free distribution at social gatherings, amateur brewing competitions or other non-commercial reasons.The Belfast wine circle have a competition once a year.  Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages can be made at home.

Brewing on a domestic level has been done for thousands of years, but has been subject to regulation and prohibition during some time periods in certain places. Restrictions on home brewing were lifted in the UK in 1963. Australia followed suit in 1972, and the USA in 1978, though individual states were allowed to pass their own laws limiting production.

The legality of home brewing varies from country to country, and some countries limit the volume an individual can legally brew. Fewer countries allow distilation of alcohol in the home.

Brewing process

Sterilization is most important of all

Primary fermentation in homebrewing takes place in large glass or plastic carboys or food-grade plastic buckets, nearly always sealed. When sealed, the fermenter is stoppered with a fermentation lock which allows the carbon dioxide gas produced to vent, while preventing other gasses and particles from entering. During this time, temperatures should be kept at optimum temperature for the particular yeast strain being used. For ale this temperature is usually 18–24 °C (64–75 °F); for lager it is usually much colder, around 10 °C (50 °F); wine will start fermenting around 20 °C (68 °F); cider between 15–18 °C (59–64 °F). A vigorous fermentation then takes place, usually starting within twelve hours and continuing over the next few days. During this stage, the fermentable sugars are consumed by the yeast, while ethonol l and carbon dioxide are produced as byproducts by the yeast. A layer of sediment, the lees or "trub", appears at the bottom of the fermenter, composed of heavy fats, proteins and inactive yeast. Often, the brew is moved to a second fermenting vessel after primary fermentation called a secondary fermenter. This secondary fermentation process is often utilized by more advanced home brewers to enhance flavor. While not required, it is generally practiced by home brewers who wish to age or clarify their beer by removing it from the sediment left behind by primary fermentation.

Upon conclusion of fermentation, the beer is carbonated before it is consumed. This is typically done in one of two ways; force carbonation in a keg using compressed carbon dioxide, or bottle carbonation with priming sugar. Any bottle that is able to withstand the pressure of carbonation can be used, such as used beer bottles, flip-top bottles with rubber stoppers such as grolsh or even plastic bottles such as soda bottles, provided they are properly sanitized. Priming briefly reactivates the yeast that remains in the bottle, carbonating the brew. Homebrewed beers and lagers are typically unfiltered (filtering improves visual appearance of the product, but reduces its shelf life and complicates carbonation).

Beer

In general, brewing beer at home is very similar to brewing commercially. Homebrewers can select from ingedients identical to those used in commercial brewing, in addition to a wide range of post-market customization. The basic ingredients that are necessary include water, malt, hops, and yeast. With the exception of water (although minerality, pH, and other characteristics do play a role and careful water selection is recommended, any water will do), there are countless varieties of these ingredients.

Cider

Cider is normally fermented apple juice which can be freshly pressed or bought as a commercially available kit containing apple syrup and yeast but can be many other fruits including pear or plums . The addition of yeast to freshly pressed apples is not vital as apples contain an amount of natural yeast. However, most homebrewers add yeast to ensure the process works well, as each variety of apple contains different amounts of yeast.

Check out our recipies’ for step by step guide to making very tasty drinks…