Over the past few years I’ve definitely developed as a homebrewer. When I first started, like anyone does, it was with kits. I was excited to try new styles and see how they went. In most cases it was pretty good (I embraced cleaning and sanitising very early thanks to my commercial background in food production). After going through several styles I started playing with adding hops and changing yeasts. I then started reading a lot about brewing, watching videos about brewing and even did a graduate certificate in brewing to really boost my knowledge. This is where it started to consume time and money.
I jumped from kits to all grain brewing using brew in a bag, keen to craft my very own formulations. This was a great stepping stone into all grain and again I had some good results. Of course though I realised the deficits of brewing this way and wanted to upgrade. About 18 months later and a decent amount of money (thank you secret Santa for brew shop vouchers) I ended up with a 3 vessel all grain system with a plate chiller and a small kegging set-up. Then the real fun began as I started experimenting with different styles and then trying to replicate them consistently. I would find inspiration with every beer I tried or article about beer I read. While it would cost me a whole day of my weekend, it didn’t matter. I loved it. I would even make friends blind taste my beer against a couple of commercial examples to get feedback. I am not sure how much they enjoyed that process, but it was invaluable.
Then we packed up everything, including my beloved homebrew setup, to travel. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), the inspiration hasn’t stopped. As I go about on my Global Beer Quest and try new beers I can’t stop thinking about brewing. So how will I scratch the itch? First of all, I am keeping notes on my phone whenever I am struck with beer creativity. I’ll get back to my kit one day and I’ll have a swag of extra formulations to try out. Secondly, and maybe most experimental of all, I am going to see what I can brew while travelling. I have another five weeks in Chiang Mai before we set off again. I am going to try some very basic brewing.
The plan is to grab some mason jars and try out a ginger beer. Apparently Thailand is a big fan of ginger so it isn’t in short supply. I am going to brew with ginger, honey as the source of fermentable sugar and using yeast that I hope to propagate from the Coopers Sparkling Ale that is available here in Chiang Mai. I can’t stop fermentation before carbonating or get lactose, so lack of sweetness will be an issue. I may add some stevia to one to see how it goes.
So that is how I will overcome my homebrew withdrawals. It isn’t all grain. It isn’t even beer really. But maybe if this works I will find some malt extract and make a hoppless beer.