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Home Brew FAQ

Beer has been brewed for as long as there has been civilization. The ancient Egyptians left their recipes in hieroglyphics on the walls of the pyramids. Beer was almost always brewed at home, for home consumption. In fact the brewery as we know it is a relatively modern invention. Just as each household baked their own bread, sewed their own clothes and made their own soap, they brewed their own beer. Now we have come full circle and home brewing is again popular.

Is home brewing legal?

It is legal to brew your own beer in almost every state so long as you are 21 years of age. You are allowed to brew up to 100 gallons per year, or 200 gallons if there is more than one adult in the household. (200 gallons is over 80 cases). You may not sell the beer you make.

What is in beer?

Beer is basically just fermented grains, just as wine is fermented fruit. Historically (and continuing today) the primary grain is barley, though other grains such as wheat, rice, corn and even rye are used. By itself, the grain produces a pretty bland beverage, so people started adding things in order to "spice" it up. Not only did it make the beer more interesting, the herbs and spices often acted as a preservative so that the beer lasted longer. The primary "herb" used today is the "flower" of the hop vine. Not only does it provide the "bite" that makes beer so refreshing, it adds interesting flavors and aromas of its own. Beer is still made today with all manner of herbs and spices like ginger, clove, cinnamon, etc. but also with such things as chili peppers and whole cloves of garlic!

What equipment do I need?

We sell equipment kits starting at $69.95. They contain most of the equipment required to start brewing 5 gallons of high quality beer at home. The extra equipment required is a large stock pot (20 quarts) and a kitchen strainer. We have both items if needed. You will also need ingredients and bottles. We sell prepackaged ingredient kits with everything pre-measured (all you add is water) or we can work up a recipe for you. You can re-use most common beer bottles, so long as it is not a "twist off" bottle. We also have new bottles for sale in various sizes.

How complicated is it?

Brewing beer at home has never been easier. Most of the hard work has be done in the processing of the various "malt extracts" that we carry and that are in our ingredient kits. It is simply a matter of mixing the extract with water and boiling for an hour. You will add your hops at various times during the boil. This "malt soup" is then cooled, poured into your fermenter (a large plastic food grade container) and diluted with water to make five gallons. The brewer's yeast is then added and then you wait for the yeast to do their stuff.

When can I drink my beer?

We recommend a two stage fermentation, which means your beer will take from ten days to two weeks to ferment. You will then bottle it and it will take about two to three weeks to condition and to carbonate. It should be drinkable at this time, but will improve with time up to about two months or so and then remain good to drink for six to eight months or even longer.

What kinds of beer can I make?

Beer generally falls into two categories: ales and lagers. The difference is the temperature of fermentation. Ales are fermented at warmer temperatures, usually from 65 to 75 degrees. Most of the beers from Great Britain and Ireland as well as most American microbrewed beers fall into this category. Lagers are fermented at 45 to 50 degrees which usually requires a dedicated refrigerator. Most mass produced American beers as well as most German beers sold in this country are lagers. Because temperature control is much easier (and less critical) we recommend that you start by brewing ales.

How can I learn more?

We offer a $10, how-to-brew class on the first Thursday and third Tuesday evenings of every month. The class starts at 6:30 PM and lasts for a couple of hours. We go through the complete process as you would in your kitchen.

You can also read our Brewing Instructions online. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at info@brewsupply.com

All Materials Copyright 1995-2008, Culver City Home Brewing Supply Co.