Posted July 18, 2013 by Zach Speers in Articles

The Zach Speers Homebrew Saga: Part 1. (Article)

The Zach Speers Homebrew Saga: Part 1.


of telling your friends that you can make a better beer than the ones you drink at the bar? Time to step up to the plate and swing away! Home brewing is a hobby that’s currently exploding across America. There are so many options that it can be overwhelming. So why don’t I start by telling you a bit about my story and how I learned to brew craft beer.

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About a year ago I started home brewing. I started with a small kit that you can find almost anywhere called Mr. Beer. It’s a 2.5 gallonscale which is about 25 beers total. The first few beers I made were passable. They had alcohol and counted as beer but they were a bit on the bland side for my tastes. Since starting on the Mr. Beer kit I’ve transferred to a bigger system making 5 gallons at a time. There are two ways of brewing; extract and all grain but I’ll get into that a bit later.

The biggest pieces of advice I received when I started were:

  • Brew something you like to drink
  • Imagine the brewing process like making a cup of tea
  • Ask a million questions

The first seems pretty simple but for a lot of people they seem to want to brew something high in alcohol content. If you wouldn’t want to drink it, why would anyone else? So start with your favorite style. The second is something a friend told me when I first did an extract brew and was feeling a bit lost after reading the process. Once you dive in and get started it makes a lot of sense. Asking questions is just a logical thing to do. Find other home brewers in your area, go to homebrew meetings and just generally ask questions in order to learn more and make a better beer.

My first extract homebrew was an American Pale ale. One of the most fun things in homebrewing is coming up with names for everything you make. People are going to ask so its easier if you know before letting them drink your brew. I named myself, Leconey Brewing Company and fittingly named this first beer Leconey Pale Ale.

In an extract brew some of the steps are condensed. With the pale ale I received 2 cans of Liquid Malt Extract or LME. LME is basically all of the sugars one would get from the grains. It also came with a small package of specialty grains, hops, and priming sugar.

On this beer, I think I was a bit OCD with some of the steps. For instance, I sanitized everything about 3 times before starting and I monitored my temperature every 2 minutes. Both are important so its good to pay attention but you can let the temp monitoring go for 10-15 minutes at a shot. As for sanitizing, nothing needs to be sanitized until after the boil. Still make sure all of your equipment is cleaned when starting. No one wants dirt floating in their beer.

All of your extract kits come with a form with steps and times to add certain hops and grains. Just follow them to a T and you won’t have any problems. After brewing make sure to have your beer somewhere dark and around 68-75 degrees. I put everything under a blanket just to be safe from light messing with the yeast. After 2 weeks check your gravity and determine your ABV. If its where you want it for the style you can continue to bottling and conditioning your beers for another 2 weeks and then its ready to drink. Keep a lookout for my next post that will detail all of the steps for my IPA.

Stay Thirsty. Stay Foolish.

Zach Speers

Zach Speers