WHAT could you make using a bin, some old net curtains, and a
stewing pot? If you have just imagined cobbling together a scene
from a Dalek wedding, then read no further. Throw some malt, hops,
and yeast into the mix, however, and it could be a recipe for
something that's a little more up your street.
If you can knock out a half-decent soup or stew, you will have
little trouble making a good beer from scratch. Many people begin
by using a home-brew kit that includes everything you need to get
going. Kits can be bought for about £50 to £60 from any home-brew
shop, and from online dealers such as www.brewuk.co.uk. Lakeland also sells home-brew
Kits, which use concentrates and extracts, can be a good option
for getting used to one or two of the tools and techniques that are
unique to brewing. As with cooking, starter kits are not nearly as
involving, your options will be greatly limited - and, more
important, you are not going to produce the nicest beer.
Though trickier, brewing with whole malt and hops is more fun,
and the range of beers that you can produce is limitless - from
brown ale to IPA, and imperial stout to barley wine.
Brewing with the raw ingredients also means that you can tweak
and develop your recipes to suit your taste. While kits generally
produce about 40 pints, working from scratch also allows you a
little more room for manoeuvre on how much beer you produce in one
You can spend as much on your home "brewery" as you like. A few
of the more committed types have put together semi-permanent kits,
with costs running into thousands of pounds, but it need not be so.
You will probably have most of the basics already.
When I first brewed, I used bits and bobs from the kitchen, an
old net curtain as a sieve, and a dustbin I found in the garage for
fermenting a thoroughly drinkable brown ale. It is important,
however, that you use food-safe plastic for your brewing; anything
you buy from a home-brew supplier will be up to the job.
If you want to find out more, get hold of any book by Ken Shales
or C. J. J. Berry. Some of these are now out of print, but can
still be sourced online; and, of course, there are many more recent
books as well as websites. It may also be useful to get in touch
with local home-brewers, and you will find out about clubs and
societies from a dedicated shop, or from a national club such as
the Craft Brewing Association (www.craftbrewing.org.uk).