T Nation

Home Brewing Booze


Anyone do this?

Besides liking a buzz, are there any other attributes a prospective brewer should have?

How/where to start?

(IPA guy here)


I’d recommend trying it with a starter kit so you don’t waste a bunch of money on something you don’t like to do. Then if you like it go ahead and upgrade. If you’re the obsessive crafty type it’s lots of fun.

Sterilize everything. I recommend baking glassware and stuff in the oven at 250 degrees after you wash it to be sure it’s sterile. Nothing worse than doing everything correct and then the beer turns.


I know some guys who make hard apple cider and have great luck with that. They start with organic, unfiltered, apple juice. Tons of variations. You might look at that too.


Patience. Although beer seems simple, because there are so many different types of malts, hops and yeasts, the combinations are limitless. It gets even better when you think adding things like cocoa, coffee, spices, etc…

It takes at least a month before the beer will be ready to drink, and that is with no aging. You can try many recipes before you find one you like, or there are plenty of established recipes that make a good product.

I switched to Meads after a while. Just honey and fruit if desired, and the yeast. I don’t have the patience to try multiple beer recipes, there is already tons of great beer in my town, and there is hardly any mead (although it is slowly increasing in popularity).

Depending on where you live, there may be a homebrew store. They should have a beginner kit that has a 6 gallon tank, preferably glass. You can start there. If you like it, upgrade to better equipment as you gain more experience. Here’s a good example of one:



I made a mead once. Made the mistake of tasting it right after fermentation. Ouch.

Let it age for an entire year to mellow out. It tasted like a boring white whine afterwards. No honey flavor at all.


You’ve got to leave it long enough for the secondary fermentation to take place. Don’t do what I did once and drink it before it’s ready. It will get you drunk but you won’t necessarily enjoy the experience. If you’re just starting out, I’d do what I did and use a kit. If you do it right, it’s perfectly acceptable beer. Now me, I make my own wine for which I grow the grapes myself. It’s probably not what wine snobs would call good wine, but for somebody who’s totally ignorant of wine tasting and the like, it tastes perfectly OK and it gets you pissed faster.


My thoughts exactly. Went with the BrewDemon Signature Beer Kit on Amazon, so a hundred bucks (+25 for an IPA refill kit and a book) all in all. I can see it adding up though; there’s a lot out there and I can see it being tempting to want to run a few brews at once.

Good call on the sterilization, too. I’d be ripshit if that’s the part that got screwed up…


Hard cider is absolutely on my to-do list.


Analysis paralysis from all the potential combos seems like it could become a thing.

The kit I got includes a 2 gallon tank… think that’s an issue, or is it just 66% less beer for the effort? It’s also plastic, but that seemed fine since I’m willing to make some upgrades if this works out.


I’d love to try my hand at Bourbon if it weren’t illegal…


It’s pretty bad ass growing the grapes yourself. And snobs be damned, but I’ve lived 30 years wanting nothing more from booze than a good taste and a solid buzz.

My old man made some wine last year - kinda sorta. He lives in PA and went to some winery where the owner offered ‘classes,’ in which he’d walk customers through the process while having them brew at the shop. I didn’t try any, but the bottles went quick at the Christmas party IIRC.

I think it took quite a while before it was ready for bottling, too. How long is the typical wine making process, assuming the grapes are good to go?


My great grandfather had a still on the family property. He was a fine upstanding citizen. Donated land to build a church. Also he bought everything with cash. Savvy.

Also may I suggest homedistiller.org? It’s a great place where many people exchange rhetorical/theoretical advice. Of course they are all from New Zealand. The only country where home distillation is actually legal.


Nice. I’m not sure my police officer next door neighbor would approve… I might just bite the bullet and pay the astronomical fees in MD if my other side hustles take off enough to support it.


You can also freeze your hard cider and what doesnt freeze can be really high in alcohol content. Just sayin…


It’s usually done within a month or two- you basically just have to check it until it’s stopped bubbling. You’re best off leaving it as long as you can stand though.


It is legal to distill a couple of gallons or so. They sell ready-to-go stills on Amazon.

I’ve been tempted to make whisky as well. No particular reason except innate nerdiness and I’ve stopped drinking beer. We used to make it at MIT due to drinking laws (and I think we saw it on MASH and thought the idea was cool).

I’d probably spring for an induction stove so you don’t have an open flame/hot coil around the raw alcohol.


See, I’ve always been wary of distillation. Not because of the fact that it’s illegal, no, but somebody told me that the boiling points of ethanol and methanol were pretty similar and that I had to be very careful. Quite why there’d be methanol in the original stuff I have no idea, but it’s always made me a little wary.


I live in the People’s Republic of Maryland, lol, but maybe you’re right… I’ll check the stills on Amazon. It would just be for fun like you said.


On a related note, I’ve had home-distilled romanian ‘tsoika’ from an undisclosed source. It’s made from plums and it’s fairly extreme. There’s another one that’s even stronger but I can’t remember its name because of its effects.


Whiskey takes awhile. You need to let it age in barrels for flavor.

Charring the inside of the oak barrels gives Tennessee Whiskey (The World’s Favorite!)it’s kick.

Moonshine is ready to go without aging.

If you burn the moonshine/whiskey you can detect the presence of ethanol/methanol. If it burns green, Don’t Drink It!