Introduction and History
My introduction to brewing
Many years ago, as an impoverished university student, I discovered homebrewing through some friends. Under the Whitlam government that was ruling Australia in 1973, brewing was legalised providing that no more than 22 litres per week was made (this volume is more than anyone could and should consume of course). After being introduced to some home made beer by a HAM radio friend, I went to my local Big W store (which I think was Westfield's Warrawong maybe) and purchased a Coopers homebrew kit. The first beers I made were using cans of hopped malt extract (Such as Coopers Real Ale kit) mixed with 1 kilo of sugar, usually dextrose at the start however I moved to using liquid malts later on to improve mouth feel and body. The beers that came from these cans (nicknamed Kit and Kilo) were pretty average in terms of taste and in the end I got sick of the results and so I moved to brewing using fresh hops, proper yeast and liquid malt only. Using the fresh hops was the biggest improvement by far that I had ever made to my brewing, and the specialised yeasts (such as White Labs) just topped it off - I was finally able to make beer that was better than any of the usual swill from the bottle shop, and tasted good enough to impress people with!
Later attempts - the move to all-grain and kegging!
A few years later, some friends of mine returned from a trip to Europe, and they were impressed with the quality of the beer over there compared to our local offerings. I told them that I would teach them how to brew and sent them off to the local brew shop with a shopping list. They returned a day later and we all got together and brewed up some decent beer. They were hooked. At this point we started brewing regularly, and eventually moved to all-grain brewing. One other addition I made was to get rid of glass beer bottles! It became so tedious having to fill up, wash and clean, then sanitise scores of bottles, so I invested in a Kegerator that holds three 19 litre kegs, has three taps and is pressurised by a 6kg CO2 cylinder. More info on the Kegerator page.
The benefits of All-grain
Our initial attempts with all grain were quite a success! The equipment outlay wasn't too bad either, an Urn that was no longer used, and an Esky were the first two items acquired. The Esky had a hose attached to it, and some stainless steel braiding was put in the bottom of the inside of the Esky so that the liquid malt can be drained out. At this point the Esky is now a "Mash Tun". The process is to fill the mash tun with water at the correct temperature (we have found that 76 degrees works well) and then the cracked grain is added. The final temp is usually around 65 degrees which is ideal. After one hour or so mashing, the liquid is sparged and transferred to the boil pot. Our boil pot is a 60 Litre stainless steel pot, with an electric element hanging inside it. The malt is added to the boil pot and water is added to bring the volume up to a decent level. Once this liquid is boiling, the hops are added at the required time intervals.
Latest setup - 50L Braumeister
After messing about with makeshift brewing equipment, I finally moved to a stainless steel Braumeister. This unit simplifies brewing massively and although it is expensive, the results are great. More info on the Braumeister page.
Building of the MashMaster MillMaster Grain Mill!
More info at the Millmaster Grain Mill page.