Beer. It’s been around since the days of the ancient Egyptians, who actually paid folks in ale; one day’s work on the Great Pyramids in Giza earned you four to five litres of suds. These days, it’s pretty rare to get paid in beer – but you can learn to make your own, thereby supplying yourself with an endless supply of the scrummy alcohol in question.
If you’ve never had a go at whipping up a batch of brewskis, you might want to do what we did, and head along to the Home Brewing for Beginners workshop at Melbourne’s The Craft & Co, ideal for ale-making novices like ourselves. Expect to learn from some very lovely beer-obsessed types, while sampling a range of the finest frothies around. Oh, and at the end, you get to lug home 10 litres of your very own beer (we called ours Malt Disney).
There are heaps of wonderful reasons to become a brewer, aside from the obvious fact that you’ll have hootch on tap. Here are some of them.
1. You get to taste lots of yummy seeds. Just as the oak tree sprouts from the acorn, so too does beer start with a seed – or, more specifically, a malted grain, like barley. The same barley will give you radically different flavours, depending on how long its been roasted. What kind of flavours, you ask? Pretty much anything that reminds you of bread and sugar: toffee, honey, molasses, chocolate… mmm. (This is also what gives beer its golden colour.)
2. You get to stir a cauldron like a witch. It’s crucial to have a big pot to put all your ingredients inside – like, really big. It needs to contain a load of H20, which you’ll bring to the boil, while chucking in your special beer-creating ingredients: malt and hops (the latter makes your beer tasty and fragrant). Not only does this smell fantastic, you’ll get to stir it, cackling – just like an evil woman in a house made of confectionary.
3. You get to do fun teamwork. Sure, you could make beer all on your lonesome, but it’s a pretty fun thing to do with a buddy. You can take turns pouring ingredients into your mixture, while the other one stirs and makes jokes about being a witch (we definitely did this during our workshop – and everyone appreciated it very much).
4. You get to be a flavour scientist. What’s your ultimate beer? Is it crispy? Bitter? Fragrant? Well, when you create your own, you get to make it taste just how you want. It’s simply a matter of doing your research on what ingredient combinations create what flavours. Recipe websites like Brewer’s Friend and Beersmith are great places to start.
5. You get to impress your mates with your homemade ale. So, you’ve boiled your brew, you’ve poured it into your fermenter (a big plastic keg-like container), you’ve added your yeast, and you’ve waited patiently for around two weeks for your beer to become… um, beer. There’s just one thing left to do: put it into bottles and guzzle it down! Again, you could make this a solo activity, but wouldn’t you like to show off your amazing homemade ale to your friends? Plus, it means you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour with those you love. And really, that’s what it’s all about.
The Craft & Co are a brewery, distillery and winery, based at 390 Smith St, Collingwood in Melbourne. Check out all their upcoming classes over here. Pop over to Home Make It to nab some beer-making gear (it’s what the clever types at The Craft & Co use, FYI).
All snaps (except top image) by Aimee Carruthers.