Craft Beer Crafting 101

A stroll through the beer section of your local grocery store or neighborhood bodegas will reveal that the vast majority of beers sold are mass-produced, labeled and distributed by a few massive international beverage conglomerates. Nevertheless, alongside these mega-brews, you will often find a selection of craft beers that are made by independent, small-scale producers. These beer creations are called “craft” because they are made with ingredients that are sourced in a sustainable way and are brewed according to specific standards.

Brewing is an ancient art that has a wealth of complexity and nuances, but it all comes down to four simple ingredients: water, malts (or malt extract), hops, and yeast. By manipulating these basic components, brewers have created a multitude of styles that originated worldwide.

For the home brewer, there is a wide array of starter kits on the market. They range from completely hands-off, to those that allow the brewer to understand and control every chemical process. The American Homebrewer’s Association has a free online guide for the beginner, and John Palmer’s How to Brew is a classic, available digitally and in hardcover.

In addition to a home brewing kit, you will need a 3-5 gallon stock pot and an insulated carboy for fermentation. It is also a good idea to start collecting non-screw top bottles, such as old recyclable glass soft drink and champagne bottles, as they will be needed for bottling your creations once you are ready to share it with the world. Finally, a good bottle brush and a sanitizer are essential to keep everything clean, sanitary and hygienic.