Words and photography by Darren TYNAN
Kölsch, Smoked Marzen, Lambic, Saison, Witbier, Trippel, American IPA. What do these worldly creations have in common? They’re all beer styles, and they’re all delicious.
‘Write about what you love’, the saying goes. Which brings me to a frightful dilemma: how will I find enough paper to express my love for beer, without being toppled by deforestation activists? Luckily for me, I’m a digital child, and for the most part I can avoid the necessary evil of paper lust. It doesn’t stop the curious and insatiable appetite for craft beer I’ve been having lately, so I sit down to vent my enthusiasm on Vortext33.
There’s a wealth of artisan beers out there and, after spending some time researching last year, I began my own humble home brewing endeavours, admiring all the processes that enable malted grains to magically convert to liquid in a glass. Alas, it’s not magic in a theatrical sense; there is no sleight of hand or a clichéd rabbit in a hat, but it is a science, an art and a craft.
More than any phrase in the English language I despise the three words, ‘It’s just beer’. Just beer? Just beer!? How may one degrade this godly beverage in such a nonchalant manner?! My rage is stockpiled yet again. Ok, so I may have exaggerated my point, but you can catch my drift. I love beer and so should you!
Beer is one of the world’s most beloved beverages, made from malted grain, hops, yeast and water. Other ingredients may be added, although Germany’s beer purity law, Reinheitsgebot, a law ensuring that only these four ingredients are used, has become common practice from brewers across the world. It is both a simple and complex process of fermentation; that wondrous dance of yeast cells that transforms fermentable sugars into alcohol and CO2.
If you have read this far you might be nodding your head, thinking, ‘Yes, but I know all this. Beer is good’. You may also be thinking, ‘Why does he feel the need to hypothesise about what I’m thinking?’. Forgive me, but this is all to segue into my next suggestion: Why don’t you try making your own beer? I guarantee it’s easier to get started than you think. If you have a large pot and access to a store that sells fine-meshed fabric, you can brew your own recipes on your stove top using these four natural ingredients.
Brewing all-grain is fun, rewarding, and it’s just like the pros do it. It’s less expensive to get going than most assume as you can get started with some basic equipment and ingredients. If you have time, patience, some minor research skills and a passion to create, rest assured you’ll be rewarded. I recommend this purely because I have found it to be so enjoyable, and the sky is the limit when you have the raw materials.
Have an idea for a smoked porter or fruit beer? Make it. Love a palate-destroying hoppy ale but can’t afford the price tag? Make your own custom batch to share with your friends. If you’ve been looking for a new hobby and love a good brew, I say go for it. Good luck and happy brewing.
As a home brewer, below is a list of some tutorials and information I have found invaluable. I am in no way affiliated with the authors nor do I benefit from these recommendations.