It seems like an age since I made my first beer. I had absolutely no idea of what I was doing. I do remember having an article printed out that explained how to make beer from malt extract (I’ve now worked on my own version). I didn’t know what these ingredients were let alone how they made beer. I wrote them all down, which if I remember correctly were; malt extract, pellet hops, crystal malt and yeast.
At the time I didn’t have any brewing equipment. The thing I did have though was my mums preserving pan that was used to make jam and that was it. The article I’d printed said you’ll need this and you’ll need that and listed everything out. I thought to myself that all this stuff sounds like it will cost a lot. I didn’t even know whether the beer was going to be any good but I did know where I could get a demijohn to ferment in.
Almost every week I had seen them at a local car boot sale, so one Sunday I went to get some. Sure enough I got two 1 gallon demijohns for the princely sum of £1.
I knew my mums pan held about 10 litres and the demijohns together slightly less. I scaled the recipe down from 5 gallons to ten litres then went to a local home brew shop. I gave them my list of ingredients and said “I need this stuff to make beer”, with a bemused look they started gathering all the bits for me.
Everyone Starts Somewhere
They clearly knew I had no idea what these things were (I must of been about 17 at the time). They asked me, “what sort of hops do you want and are you sure you want pellets, you might struggle filtering them out”. I asked what was the alternative and what’s the most common to which they supplied me with a few muslin bags and whole leaf East Kent Golding hops.
Along with the ingredients I got some of the equipment listed in the article. I picked up syphon tubing, a thermometer, sanitiser and airlocks with bungs .
I got home and immediately set to work heating a pan of water into which I dumped my crystal malt. At this point I thought “this is going to be great”. It was not long after I realised, “this isn’t right” as I’m trying to fish out the crystal malt with a sieve.
I came to the conclusion I should have used the muslin bag. Instead of starting again I powered through to boil the wort, occasionally seeing grains swimming to the surface. I added all the malt extract and chucked in the hops which I’d cleverly tied up in both muslin bags.
The recipe said to boil for 60 minutes so I left it for about 45 thinking that should be enough, “I mean why 60 minutes?” I thought. I then read to add the “remaining hops” which of course I threw in loose because both my hop bags were rolling around in the boiling wort.
I finished the boil and cooled the wort in the sink filled with cold water. Once it was cool I set about pouring the beer into the demijohns through a funnel and the sieve. It was quite astonishing how much grain was still left in the beer, I must of emptied the sieve 4 or 5 times.
There was nothing left to do really except carry on, I fermented and bottled the beer a few weeks later after buying a capper.
How Was Your First Home Brew?
How did it taste I can hear you ask . . . .
“It tastes like beer”
was the most common response, and it did, which was great considering. In fact some friends even went on to say it was “good”.
The moral of the story here is even if you don’t know what you’re doing, carry on anyway. You never know how it will turn out until you’ve done it. I bought several books after this initial batch and things went a lot smoother. Along the way answering a lot of questions for myself.
The whole batch of my first ever beer went in a week or so except for one bottle. A bottle that I still have to this day and I can tell you it hasn’t aged well which isn’t surprising really. There is a lot of particles floating around in the bottle and it’s not really something I can ever see myself wanting to taste.
What was the first beer you ever made and how did it go? There has be somebody out there that was as oblivious as me.. right?