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We’re the masters of the seven beers!

There are only seven bottles! Only seven 0.5-litre swing-stopper bottles of our very own beer. Every sip is precious, every sample for our friends measured out with parsimonious accuracy. My father and I had finally dared to take the plunge – we’ve brewed our own beer in our kitchen at home. And now, when I ask my father if I can give away a bottle of our beer, then he simply says: “No, it’s much too good to waste on other people!” We’re the masters of our seven beers – we’re not giving any of them away!

I’ve always wanted to brew my own beer, not only because I often have to write about process technology, brewers and beer, but also because I simply just love beer. So I decided, following several brewing courses, simply to start off at home. My father, I thought, was a suitable partner in crime, because I’ve presumptively inherited my affection for beer from him. What’s more, he’s very meticulous – and I regarded this as important.

But now how do I begin? What do I buy? I didn’t want to brew with extract, I wanted to recreate all the operations involved in producing beer. I did some quick research, and finally came across the “Brewbox” from a company called Besserbrauer (“Betterbrewer” in English). The box contains all the ingredients and equipment you need – from the fermenting vessel and cleaning agents all the way through to the actual ingredients. Hardly had I sent off the order when the box arrived, and I could get started. The brewing instructions were very easy to understand, even with my minimalistic basic knowledge – and also rather nicely written.


 Anybody who’s given someone a bottle of beer and said “I brewed this myself” will know what a great feeling that is.


That’s what it says in the introduction, and it’s true. Especially when it turns out to be good and you only have seven bottles of it. It’s not often I’ve treated a beer more like an uncut diamond than I did with my first homebrew.

We opted for the “Munich Helles Lager” brewing kit, because we really wanted to start with the fundamentals. No frills! In the description, it said we should allow around five hours for it, so we set aside the entire Saturday for brewing, just to be on the safe side. Mashing in a large pot sounded pretty simple – keeping the temperature at a constant level of between 65 and 69 degrees, though, that was more of a challenge. Following some prolonged cogitation, we fetched mum’s juicer up from the basement, but the problem then was that the liquid in the pot tended to be too hot. Adjusting it to the correct temperature involved 60 minutes of anxious trial and error. I was nervous.

After heating it up briefly to 78 degrees, we then finally began to lauter it through a coarse-meshed kitchen sieve. This was easy, and soon we had separated the spent grains from the wort. Later on, we made bread from the spent grains – the recipe was included in the brewing instructions. So that’s a sense of achievement once again – home-baked bread.

Our beer is a little bitter at first taste – I suspect that happened in the next step: hop boiling. During the leisurely 90-minute boiling operation, we added the “Tradition” and “Saazer” hop varieties to the beer. After the boiling time, the beer needs to be cooled down as quickly as possible, in order to avoid post-bittering. And there we were a little bit slow. The kitchen was heated, and although we opened the casement window and subjected the pot to cooling elements, the cool-down process was still relatively slow. I was getting progressively more stressed.

And my stress levels then reached maximum when it came to the fermentation, since this was when the cleaning agents needed to be properly deployed. Cleaning is not one of my strong points, so this part of the process was supervised by my father. I was getting a bit panicky that we would forget to disinfect something, and would thus be producing a pretty gruesome beer. After what seemed like an eternity, the wort was inside the glass vessel from the Brewbox, and the fermentation bung firmly inserted. We stored the vessel in a warm dark place, underneath the kitchen’s work surface.

Following a week of storage, the disinfection frenzy returned in full force: we now had to bottle our brew. Fortunately, my father collects swing-stopper bottles, and so we didn’t have to think twice about choosing a container. The green beer already smelled very distinctive, and my worries about disinfection began to recede: we were on the right track. After three weeks of maturation in the bottle, the great moment had come: I tasted the first beer. Unfortunately, I began with the bottle we filled last – it tasted very strongly of yeast, and was very cloudy. In terms of taste, it reminded me more of a wheat beer, and it looked like a cellar beer, with not much head. But when we opened the second bottle, one thing was already clear: the beer was actually golden-yellow, slightly cloudy, had very good head retention, and was (as I mentioned) somewhat tart at first taste. It tasted best when served ice-cold.

One thing’s for certain: we’re going to keep on brewing. In the kitchen. Now that the first beer turned out so well, I’m no longer anxious about the cleaning, and all the things that can go wrong. I already understand, however, why brewers pose proudly for a photo-shoot in front of their new tanks and equipment. It’s a huge relief to know you’re operating with reliable kit, that can be properly cleaned. When it’s only seven bottles involved, of course, you can take a failure in your stride, but when a sizeable quantity has to be thrown away, then the brewer is indubitably heartbroken. And the workload that brewing entails is unquestionably enormous. But when you really like beer, there is in fact no finer feeling than saying to one of your friends: “Try some, I made it myself!”


We entered our beer for a blind tasting. In the film, you can see how it measured up against a cellar beer, a Munich Lager and a non-alcoholic wheat beer.

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