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Dublin: 19°C Wednesday 22 September 2021

7 handy tips to get you started with homebrewing

We’ve got you covered.

LAST WEEK, WE introduced the Smithwick’s Homebrew Challenge.

In case you missed it, here’s the gist: apply on the Smithwick’s Homebrew website to register as an entrant in the competition, they’ll send you some hops, and you can then get brewing a Christmas ale.

Winners will be whittled down and selected by Master Brewers and members of the National Homebrew Club, with two lucky entrants getting to brew in historic St James’s Gate and have their brews tasted and voted on by the public.

So we thought we’d give a leg-up to all the would-be and amateur homebrewers out there reading TheJournal.ie, with some solid tips recommended to us by the folk in the National Homebrew Club.

Take notes…

1. Start simple

Resist the urge to dive straight into brewing a high alcohol or highly hopped beer. Brewing a simple pale ale, porter or stout will make it easier for you to find your footing and figure out what went right (and what didn’t) once the beers are finished. There’ll be plenty of time to experiment in the future. Grab your own homebrew kit over at homebrew.ie.

Batch #2: Regrets.. Source: Daquella manera

2. Next to Godliness…

Sanitation is the most important part of making good beer. Bad sanitisation can ruin your whole batch – make sure your equipment is cleaned, then sanitised.

IMG_9465 Source: Colby Perry

3. Hit the books

Brewing is an ancient skill and has been around for over 7000 years – it follows that there’s a lot of wisdom out there on the subject. Spend some time online, pick up a home-brewing book, and get in touch with other brewers to exchange knowledge. It can only mean your beer gets better. Check out the National Homebrew Club website for guides on your first brew.

Batch #4: Castaña Supreme Source: Daquella manera

4. The shopping list

It goes without saying that the right and properly-stored ingredients are key to a successful brew. Fresh is best. Yeast should be kept in the fridge, grains in a cool dry place, and hops in the freezer. Hops, malt extract, yeast and crushed grains should be used quickly, as they have a limited shelf life.

hops Source: Smithwick's

5. Temperature is rising

Temperature control is very important. Making beer is art – but it’s also chemistry. Each yeast strain has a narrower optimal temperature range. You can find the recommend fermentation temperature for each strain on the manufacturer website – plus lots of ways to control temperature.

brewers Source: Smithwick's

6. Patience is a virtue

Yeast takes time to work. Once your beer is bottled or kegged, it generally needs at least two weeks to carbonate and condition before it’s ready to consume. A lot of times, your brew will taste better after further cold conditioning in the fridge too.

Source: Daquella manera

7. Club together

Join your local homebrew club – there are lots of meetups all over Ireland. They’re a great place to meet other brewers, share beers, get feedback and figure out how to improve your process. Check out the National Homebrew Club forum to find out where you nearest meetup is.

homebrew Source: National Homebrew Club

To enter the Smithwick’s Homebrew Challenge, people must be over 18 and they can apply online at www.SmithwicksHomebrewChallenge.ie. Each applicant will be sent 100g of Admiral Hops to get them started, subject to availability. Magnum, Challenger, UK Goldings, Willamette or Saaz Hops can also be used for this competition.

The judging panel will include Smithwick’s Brewers and members of the National Homebrew Club. If you would like further information about homebrewing and to pick up some tips visit www.nationalhomebrewclub.ie.

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