Home Brew, Part 1

I finally took the plunge: I bought a home brewing kit.  I’ve been looking into making my own beer for a while and finding out that a home brew store opened two blocks down the street from my apartment was the tipping point.

Brew Camp has been open for a little longer than a month and is located in the North Center neighborhood in Chicago.  It’s a nice little storefront that offers everything you’ll need to make your own beer.  The staff is extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic in answering questions and giving recommendations on best practices, etc.  I have a feeling Brew Camp is going to get a lot of my money.

Since I’m as novice as it gets when it comes to home brewing, I was excited to learn that in addition to having bulk ingredients, they sell premeasured fool-proof kits (we’ll see how fool proof once I get my hands on it).  I ended up purchasing an American Pale Ale kit by Brewers Best; the box says it has a brewing difficulty of “easy.”  This means my position on the bell curve might be downgraded if my end product more closely resembles Pine Sol than actual beer.

The kit contains malt extract syrup, specialty grains, hops, yeast, spices/flavorings, a grain bag, priming sugar and bottle caps.


I also purchased a Brewers Best Equipment kit to get started.   For $70, the kit includes a primary fermenter w/lid, priming bucket w/spigot, no-rinse cleanser, siphon, bottle capper, hydrometer, thermometer, bottle brush, an airlock and a bucket clip.  As a bonus, I got 5% off by downloading the Four Square app, while in the store, and checking in at Brew Camp.

The only thing I’ll have to get that are not included in the kits are a stock pot (I have one somewhere) and bottles.  The horrible thing is that I’m going to have to have to drink 53 beers in order to supply the number of bottles needed to house a batch of beer (oh, the humanity).  I may also get a secondary fermenter.

I really look forward to trying this out.  Once I get the hang of it, I definitely plan on trying my own recipes and tweaking ingredients to make my own unique flavors.  I would also be very happy to hear tips or suggestions from more seasoned home brewers.

I’ll post progress once I’ve successfully made wort and it’s in the primary.  Hopefully I won’t be covered in third degree burns from the boiling process.


  1. I’ve brewed a couple batches of Brewers Best APA. I have found it much nicer adding additional hops during the boil (cascade and chinook) and dry hopping (Ahtanum) it in the secondary fermenter.

    Best of luck.

    twitter: @gpierce112

    1. Being the rookie that I am, I’ll have to read up more on when and how to dry hop, etc. I’m eager to experiment, though!

  2. Good for you. Brewing your own is great fun and a tasty way to be creative.

    You might join the American Homebrewers Association. But, you don’t have to be a member to join the AHA forum. The forum has some really knowledgeable people, including a number of guys who appear in Zymurgy magazine often.

    If you have questions, they’ll have good answers.

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