I first started home brewing around 25 years ago, when I would help my dad.
I was just too young to legally drink in pubs at that time, and it was his way of letting me enjoy the odd responsible beer.
We actually didn’t make too many batches and it always seem to be ridiculously strong Boots Bitter or lager, which, a couple of years later, my new university mates thought made a fantastic start to a night out.
We used normal granular sugar rather than brewing sugar, we paid little concern to infections when checking the brew and I don’t remember us sterilising equipment at all – all no nos as far as the brewer of today is concerned.
I left university in 1993, and never thought about brewing again until almost 15 years later.
I bought my brother a home brew starter kit for his birthday. I noticed the old days of Boots Bitter, and lager kits seemed to be long gone. Kits now covered just about any style of beer - and I fancied trying.
So, after my brother returned the favour and bought me a starter kit as a gift, I tentatively started brewing again.
My first brew was a Brupaks kit called “Kirkburton Ale”, named after the village I live in.
It was a small batch, making around 20 bottles and I seemed to wait for weeks until it was ready to drink. It made a dark, very rich beer, perfect for midwinter.
Since then I’ve done numerous kits, covering all sorts of styles, including stouts, IPAs, wheat and fruit beers.
I’ve now graduated to making brews using raw ingredients such as the malts and hops, and using equipment such as boilers, and homemade mash tuns.
Even sterilising the equipment, and bottling beer is less of a chore with the right equipment.
My next step is to stop following other people’s recipes, and to start making my own brews.
Home brewing has given me a much better understanding of the challenges facing a brewery owner, besides the common challenges faced by all business owners.
One other thing I have also learnt is that handing out beer to your family and friends makes you really popular.