August 16, 2012 by brewer60
Let’s get started by saying that there has NEVER been a better time to get seriously into home brewing than right now. Money is tight all round, the government’s taxes on anything even vaguely alcoholic are horrendous and we all want better beer.
But, we hear you say, home brew is horrible isn’t it? Nasty thin, gassy cidery stuff that you only drink because it’s free and the friend that made it doesn’t have anything else to offer you, right?
Well, this can be true. The basic home brew kit that you reconstitute with water and ferment in a bucket before bottling does suffer from a certain lack of quality no matter how well you follow the directions.
But, REAL Home Brewing is a different thing altogether. Ale Brewing Chaps have left all that supermarket tinned stuff behind years ago. We work only with fresh malted grains, filtered and pH adjusted water, fresh Nelson hops and live yeast cultures that we grow ourselves. Several of us have been brewing like this for many years and would rate our beers as better than many commercial brews. Now it is time for YOU to get involved as well and this page should show you how to go about it.
Before we do however, we should clear up any misunderstanding about the words ‘CHAPS’ and stress that it is non-gender specific. You don’t have to be a chap to be a CHAP. As it were.. In fact the last homebrew course we did had more female CHAPS involved than male, so let us be clear that this is not some blokey project that might make potential female brewers, (or ‘Brewsters’ as the old expression had it) feel excluded. Women OUGHT to be making more beer. They are enjoying it more and more these days after all.
So, here is some background; For many years now, a fair sized group of beer lovers on the island have been building our own brewing equipment and making our own beer. We have two systems working at present, a 50 litre one and a 100 litre one. We take it in turns to use the gear, concoct our own recipes depending on personal taste and current climate, spend a happy six hours or so mashing, lautering, boiling and cooling to make each batch. It is quite wonderful. And that’s just the brewing. The bit where we get to sit down and taste it is even better.
But…Of late we have found that more and more people wish to help, learn and brew for themselves. This is making it harder for us to operate from the private residence where the breweries were stored. Too many people trying to cram round the mash tun at the same time and too many having to wait. So what we have done is shift the entire operation to a unit in Ostend’s glamorous Tahi Road area and give ourselves a bit of decent space to brew in.
It is important to stress that this remains a home brewing operation. The laws in New Zealand are very clear on the legality of making alcohol and we have no wish to stray into any legal grey areas. No actual alcohol will be sold from these premises. Only unfermented components of beer, along with other useful stuff such as fermenters, extra ingredients and cleaning products will be offered.
Here are some of the things we intend to do to help all of you get involved;
Firstly, there will be a brewing course. This will take five weeks, (Roughly two hours per lesson on a weeknight) and take you through everything from basic brewing science through to recipe formulation and hands on brewing. We’ll show you how to get the best possible beer from a huge range of ingredients and get them consistent. Once you have done this course you can then book in for brewing sessions on the weekends or, if you feel like getting really carried away, buy your own personal system. We make them here on the island.
Cider making will also be explained and a brew of basic cider made during the course.
The course will cost $250. This includes a tasting session with food matching at the end plus one free brewery rental once the course is complete. Places on the course are limited to twelve, so first in best dressed. Just email us on email@example.com to book in. The start date will be announced shortly, as soon as we have made the brewery tidy and comfortable.
Secondly, if you’d rather just get started and see how it goes, we will do a weekly brew on Saturday mornings and sell off the resulting non fermented wort fresh from the kettle. If you have an old twenty litre fermenter gathering dust in your shed or garage, just book ahead and bring the fermenter in on Saturday lunchtime. We’ll give it a proper cleaning and sanitising with professional cleaning chemicals then you can watch as it is filled direct from the brewery. We sell you a pot of fresh yeast and you take the whole lot home, tip the yeast in and watch it go. Each week’s recipe will be decided in advance on our facebook page so you can have your say on what kinds of beer you fancy. There are something like seventy basic styles to choose from so we’ll be bound to get to your favourite eventually. Once your brew has finished fermenting then you can either bottle it or get our advice on setting up your own beer fridge with mini kegs for the finished product. The cost per litre of each brew will depend on the type of beer and the ingredients used but it would be a rare brew that would cost more than $1.50 a pint done this way.
Thirdly, we know there are a number of good Chaps on the island already deep into their own brewing projects. If you are already set up then come and see us for ingredients and sanitising products. We will be open from 11 AM to Three PM every Saturday on Tahi Road.
Also, if you take a look at our amazing draught beer setups and decide your home bar needs something similar then talk to us about having beer fridges, home bars and kegging systems custom made right here on the island.
This page will be updated with all kinds of interesting beer stuff over the next few weeks so keep in touch.