About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Home-brew beer

Having read enthusiastic accounts of how beer can be made from scratch, including growing the hops and mashing the malt, I had decided not to bother with making beer. I might try cider, and there are plenty of country wines to keep me busy, but I'd skip beer for drinking at home and content myself with having a decent pint or two whenever I could afford to go to the pub.

Then someone on the 'ish forum asked Gregorach, an expert on the subject, for a beginner's introduction to beer making. He said, "Buy a kit." I hadn't really thought about kits. They're not really any more self sufficient than buying beer ready made. On the other hand, they are a lot cheaper.

Having tracked down a shop in Aberystwyth that sells home-brew stuff (with health food - where else?) I chose the cheapest kit, thinking I'd try the branded ones (at twice the price) if the first lot went well, but the beer wasn't that great. I also bought a bucket...

Me: Excuse me, I'd like to buy this beer kit and I'm not sure whether my bucket's big enough for it
Shop assistant: It is
Erm... how does she know how big my bucket it? (Not big enough - I bought a bigger one).

I added a kilo of sugar to the next shopping list, then in theory I was ready to go. The reason I didn't start straight away was washing up. The kit makes 40 pints of beer, which is great until you try and find enough bottles to put it in... and sterilise and clean them all. I gave up and left it all sitting on the kitchen side for ages.

Eventually I got fed up with the bottles getting in my way and decided I had to get on with it, so I sterilised and cleaned the bucket (again) and started the kit off, reasoning that I'd just have to do something about all those bottles when the beer got to the stage of needing them.

That was about three days ago. I now have a huge bucket of bubbling beer in the conservatory:

Home brew beer from a kit, brewing.

Apart from the scum around the top, it looks and smells a lot like beer already. So much so, that I dipped a jug in...

Lousy photo of first pint of beer from the kit. I can't take another picture now, I've drunk it!

Considering it's only half made, it's really not bad. A bit sweet, of course, because the sugar hasn't all been turned to alcohol yet, but as someone who likes shandy, I don't mind that at all. It's possible I may never get round to cleaning all those bottles...


  1. Weee! another skill on its way for you :)

    I've started a number of new crafts by buying kits -- not the cheapest way to start but I usually find that the shortcuts they provide are worth it when you've got enough other stuff to worry about :)

    Even if you're using a kit, you're (presumably) reusing bottles and the heaviest ingredient - the water - is being transported to you in the most efficient way. While it's not as cheap or self-sufficient as cider or country wines, it is still a bit greener than buying beer ready made in a shop.

    I'm trying to get my partner to start brewing beer at home - I don't drink beer but for some reason am really intrigued by the process!

  2. I'm not sure that following instructions on a kit really counts as a new skill!

    I hadn't thought about the reduced transport of the water making this greener than fully manufactured stuff. That's an excellent excuse for making beer, cheers :-)


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