Why You Should Homebrew?
If you have ever been wondering about why you should get into homebrewing or just want to learn more about homebrewing then this is the right place to be. Throughout this post, we will go over why I think you should homebrew, the different types of brewing methods, and then of course why you should brew with Mr. Beer. Now, you are probably wondering who the hell is this guy and why do I care what he has to say. Good point. I’m not sure that you will care what I have to say but at least allow me to introduce myself. My name is Robert Lewis. I am the Sales & Marketing Manager for Mr. Beer. I have been working at Mr. Beer for just about 8 years and homebrewing all along the way. I was never a homebrewer before I started working here, so I think I have a unique perspective on why homebrewing is unlike any other hobby. I hope you enjoy my stories and learn a little bit about homebrewing along the way.
WHY SHOULD YOU HOMEBREW?
I’m a huge fan of IPA’s. They are the best beers, hands down. Try to prove me wrong, I dare you. However, they can be quite expensive. One of my favorite IPA’s is from a local craft brewery here in Arizona. It runs right around $14-$16 for a 4 pack. That’s insane! It’s like $4.00+ a beer. I get it, they are making “craft beer” but, come on, that’s just too much. Now if you wanted to brew an amazing IPA, let’s say with Mr. Beer, for instance, that same type of beer would cost around $1.05 a beer. That’s it! You’re saving serious cash. Even if you wanted to brew the most expensive IPA that Mr. Beer offers, which is a crazy supper hopped imperial IPA, it would cost about $2.90 a beer. If you're like me who drinks about 6 beers a weekend, at $4 a beer that’s $24 a week, $96 a month, or $1,152 a year. Now if you homebrew and drink 6 beers a weekend at an average of $1.90 that is $11.40 a weekend, $45.60 a month, or $547.20 a year. So, you can save $600 a year by homebrewing! The more you drink the more you save. That’s what I call a win, win!
Know Your Ingredients
Like many of us, I am cautious about what goes into my body. Our world is full of over-processed foods and drinks and who knows what the ingredients are? Most of the time I can’t even pronounce half the stuff on the back of the labels. You will notice that with beer most brewers don’t list what they use in their beers. Some of them add clarifying chemicals to make the beer look clear or stabilizers to extend the shelf life of the beer. That’s just not cool. With homebrewing, you know exactly what you are putting into your beer, so you can trust that you have the best, real ingredients to brew with. Mr. Beer ingredients are made from all-natural Malted Barley, Hops, Water, and then Yeast (which you add) and that’s all! We use the best ingredients possible and oversee the entire process from the grain fields to the ingredients that go into your beer kit. We want to ensure that you get the best possible beer each and every time you brew.
Create Your Own Brew
Just brewing your own beer is an extremely rewarding feeling but creating your own custom recipe that is all your own is an experience unto itself. Through some trial and error, you can create some amazing beer. I remember the first recipe I created. I wanted it to be this super hoppy IPA. So, I got all kinds of random hops and threw them together and the result was not that good. I went straight mad scientist and did zero research before I brewed it, I just winged it. Now my second attempt at this was excellent. I did a little research and picked some bittering hops that would pair well together, did a nice 45-minute boil with around 2 oz. of hops and the results were amazing. I think I shared that beer with anyone that was willing to taste it and all were blown away at how well it came out. It's quite a rewarding experience creating your own beer that tastes good and that people truly enjoy.
Brewing beer is always a good time. You have some friends over, turn on some tunes, drink some beers, and just brew away. It’s the perfect escape from the weekly grind and a great way to relax and unwind. Another fun aspect of homebrewing that is not talked about that much is brewing beer for special occasions, like birthdays, holidays, weddings, etc. I got married 7 years ago and I wanted to brew beer for the wedding, so I brewed 20 gallons of beer, (we like to drink). I still remember what I brewed, it was an American Lager, Pilsner, an Amber Ale, and an IPA. During the wedding reception everyone I talked to did not say the ceremony was great or the flowers or any of that, they all wanted to talk about the homebrew. Every single person mentioned how much they enjoyed the beer. Even in our wedding video, every single comment was “Congratulations, we wish you all the best… And Amazing beer”. It was something that I will never forget. The impact that a good homemade beer can have. To this day when I see extended family members they still talk about the beers I brewed and are always wanting to try something new.
Appreciate Good Beer
Within the Craft Brewing scene and even Homebrewing you can find a lot of beer snobbery. People like beers a certain way and I get that. I have also come to appreciate a beer that is brewed very well, but I am by no means a beer snob. For the longest time, my go-to beer was Bud Light or Bud Light Lime. Overtime my pallet has changed where I can appreciate a really good brewed craft beer. The more you learn about a subject the more you appreciate the work that goes into it. So, you can tell when you have a good beer and a really good beer. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ll still grab a Bud Light here and there. One thing that you have to appreciate about the big brewers is that no matter where you are the beer will always taste the same. Once you understand homebrewing you will know how hard that is. Most Craft Brewers have trouble replicating the same exact beer each time. So, I would say that your appreciation for good beer will increase but your appreciation for just beer, in general, will also increase when you learn about all that goes into making a great tasting beer.
DIFFERENT BREWING METHODS
Alright, let's get educated. There are a few different ways that you can brew beer at home. Some are quicker than others, some are more expensive, some offer more ways to customize your beer but, in the end, they all produce great beer. It just depends on how much money you want to invest and how much time you want to spend. If you are looking to get started you should follow the advice of the American Homebrews Association (AHA.) According to the AHA, “extract brewing is one of the best ways to introduce people how to brew beer at home. Not only does extract brewing make homebrewing easier to grasp and understand, but it’s one of the cheapest and newb-friendly ways to encourage people to take up the hobby. For this reason alone–the power to spark interest in making beer at home—the effectiveness of extract homebrewing should not be looked down on by those who brew with grains.” I have brewed with all these methods, so I have a good understanding of why one is better than the other. Let's dive into the different brewing methods.
Hopped Malt Extract
Brewing with Hopped Malt Extract is the best way to get started brewing, period. If anyone disagrees, send them to me and I’ll straighten them out. Brewing with Hopped Malt Extract (HME) is the best way to start because it includes everything you need except water and yeast. The inclusion of hops simplifies things. It will save you time, space in your house and allows you to create a consistent beer each time you brew. All you need is a starter kit with HME and a few common kitchen items like a pot and stirring spoon.
HME is a thick syrup-like substance that is basically distilled beer. It is made the same way a brewery brews beer. You add your grains, and hops into water, spend a few hours letting that boil, then go through evaporation where you condense it down to a thick liquid. From there it is packaged and sent out for homebrewers to use. Much of the time-consuming aspects of brewing are done for you. To sum up in one sentence, add your can of HME to water, mix it up, add your yeast and that’s it! See super simple! It only takes about 30 minutes of your time from setup to clean up. Plus, you can customize your beer to your heart’s content. Just use your HME as a base and add just about anything you want from there. You can even add more hops. You are not losing any quality in the finished product by brewing with HME. What you are doing is saving yourself some serious time and increasing your chances of always brewing a quality beer every single time.
LME, Specialty Grains, & Hops
Liquid Malt Extract (LME) is made the same as HME, only without the hops. When brewing with LME you will need to add hops and, in some cases, specialty grains. The brewing time will be a bit longer and the equipment you need is a little more involved than brewing with HME. The basic brewing process for this method is you will steep your specialty grains, typically for 30 minutes. Then you will add in your LME, then you will need to add hops and do a hop boil to get some bitterness in your beer. This can be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on what you are brewing. You will also need a larger pot to boil your water and a large strainer for the grains. It will add at least 45 minutes to an hour to your brew day vs brewing with HME.
DME, Grains & Hops
Dried Malt Extract (DME) is made by taking LME and evaporating it down to a powder form. This is done to help increase the shelf life of the beer and also to preserve color. Sometimes when using HME or LME your beers can come out slightly darker than if you used DME. However, brewing with DME can be a giant pain if you have not done it before. The 1st time I brewed with DME I the pot overflowed on my stovetop and made a sticky mess. Imagine taking maple syrup and mixing it with some water, and then just dump that all over your stove, yeah it was a disaster. I think it took me a few hours to get everything cleaned up, and by that point, I did not want to brew beer anymore. So, when brewing with DME you have to wait for something called the “hot break” before you add your hops. Before this, the foam in your pot will keep rising so you have to be consistently stirring it and removing the pot from the heat so it does not overflow. It’s the most intense 15-25 minutes you can have. One wrong move and its disaster all over your kitchen. Now don’t get me wrong, DME can be good and I have used it since then, it's great for making really light-colored beers and has an incredibly long shelf life. Overall, it will take about 2-3 hours to brew a batch from setup to cleanup. The process is the same as brewing with LME, you just have to deal with the intense session with the DME. You will also need a little larger pot and a few other things you might not have in your common kitchen.
Brewing with all-grain is the most complicated and time-consuming. However, it does allow for as much customization as you can possibly imagine. You can choose the exact kind of grains that go into your beer. I have brewed all-grain several times, mostly with friends and the days are typically 6-8 hours long and I usually wind up drinking too much beer so around hour 5 I'm pretty much done with the brew day. To brew all-grain is a significant investment in equipment. The basic all-grain brewing equipment starts around $125 and goes up from there to thousands of dollars. The ingredients you need are grains (pounds of grains), and hops. The basic method goes as follows. The first step is mashing where grains are steeped at a specific temperature for about an hour. Then you have the lautering process which is the act of taking the spent grains out of the liquid. This can be done by using false bottoms and drainage systems. The next step is called the sparge where you slowly transfer liquid from one container to another and rinse the grains to get rid of as much of the fermentable sugar as possible. These two steps can take 3-4 hours to complete. After that, you do a hop boil which is usually takes about hour. For a typical brew day it will take you 6-8 hours depending on the brew. While the customization is endless it does take significantly more time, equipment, and money to brew all-grain.
WHY BREW WITH MR. BEER?
Here’s a little secret. I am not passionate about homebrewing. But I do enjoy it. I brew as often as I can but I don’t wake up dreaming of brewing beers. I am more passionate about spending time with my family, doing fun activities with my kids, watching sports, exercising, sport shooting, and several other things. I choose to brew with Hopped Malt Extract (HME) from Mr. Beer so I can brew a batch in 30 minutes and do everything else I want to do. I don’t want to waste an entire day brewing a batch of beer. There are other things I would rather do than watch a pot boil for 8 hours. By using HME as a base I can easily experiment with other ingredients to make any kind of crazy beer I can think of in a short amount of time. Here at Mr. Beer, we have 16 different base styles you can brew from, then building off of those 16, we have created over 100 different recipes which we constantly rotate. We use hops, grains, DME, fruit, soda, heck even bacon. Since we are using the HME as a base it shortens the brew day and allows us to get very creative with our recipes. There are 6 key reasons why I think you should brew with Mr. Beer. They mean a heck of a lot to me, so I hope they mean something to you too.
It reduces brew day from 4-8 hours down to 30 minutes. Even the most complex recipes will take from 1 to 1.5 hours tops from set-up to clean-up. You will have time to enjoy the important things in your life. Who wants to spend an entire day watching the pot boil?
The Mr. Beer Kit is compact. We use a 2-gallon fermenter that does not take up much space.. All you need to brew are a few common kitchen items. No extra pots, tubes, strainers, buckets, or anything else. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the space to have my garage taken with a bunch of brewing equipment.
You can save $600 a year at a minimum. To get started with Mr. Beer all you need is one of our 2-Gallon Beer Making Kits. They cost between $39-$59 depending on what you get. Other homebrewing kits can range from $39-$49 for 1 gallon of beer or $125+ to brew all-grain, but you will still need additional items besides just the starter kit so it’s a little closer to $200. Let's break it down. The cost per beer, for a Mr. Beer Kit at $59.99 will cost you $2.50 a beer for your kit. For a 1 Gallon Kit at $39.99 it will cost you $4 a beer, and for the all-grain kit at $200 it will cost you $3.33 a beer. The best value to brew and save money is clearly Mr. Beer.
I went over the basic brewing process earlier. A lot of the boiling involved with each of the processes requires you to hold the boil at certain temperature range for a specific period of time. If you don’t, you can mess up your beer and can get some off-flavors or beer that isn’t what you wanted. When brewing with Mr. Beer you don’t have to worry about that. Using our HME takes out those variables so you can get a more consistent beer every time you brew. We have all had that one experience when a friend you know is just hyping up this restaurant. You decide to give it a try after days of anticipation from hearing how good it is. Then that 1st bite of food is just terrible. Well, brewing with Mr. Beer can help prevent that in your beer. Each beer will live up to the hype.
I am extremely proud of the customer support we offer at Mr. Beer. Not only are we the best support for a homebrewing company, I think we offer the best support of any company. We have experienced Brewmasters that are very passionate about homebrewing. You can give them a call any time Monday through Friday. We offer live chat and an awesome Facebook group, Mr. Beer’s Brewing Society, where you can learn all kinds of new things about homebrewing. If you have any issues, we take care of it. You have a damaged shipment? We send you a new one. Bad beer? We’ll send you a new batch. Just got some brewing questions? We got you covered. We welcome you as a part of the Mr. Beer family. We don’t have customers, we have brewing partners, friends, and family.
The Only Homebrew Company Owned by a Brewery
Mr. Beer is owned by Coopers Brewery in Australia. Coopers is the oldest family-owned and independent brewery in Australia and they have been brewing beer for over 150 years. They have been in the homebrewing space since the 1970s and create the highest quality malt extract in the world. Coopers creates all of our Mr. Beer Hopped Malt Extracts. This makes Mr. Beer the only homebrewing company whose ingredients are created by a brewery. The same ingredients you use to brew are used to make beer in the brewery. They use state-of-the-art technology and oversee the entire process from “grain to glass.” Coopers is also extremely focused on sustainability. The water they use comes from below the water table and runs through a reverse osmosis process that removes the high salt content. They have an onsite powerplant so that they don’t rely on the local grid. All water, steam heat, grains, etc. is recirculated throughout the brewery and used in more ways than one.
I hope you enjoyed this and are now motivated to homebrew. It’s a great hobby, lifestyle, and very rewarding in many ways. If you have questions about brewing please reach out to us. We are more than happy to help. Thank you for taking the time to read through this. As they say at Coopers Brewery and we say here, “Cheers Mate!"