“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”
― Abraham Lincoln
What is Barley Nectar?
Barley Nectar is the golden substance that many wish they could produce at home. If you’ve acquired the taste for Hoppy Beers like Lone Pine from Saw Dust City, it’s only a matter of time before you want to take a crack at it.
Any brewer will tell you its a simple process.
I’ve always shared my interests with my closest friends as I move from one project to the next.
Fortunately, brewing has stuck and I’ve managed to get over the stage fright and to actually produce a couple of half decent beers. The best and worst of these creations have been freely distributed for lucky taste testers.
Home made beer is not free.
None-the-less a story teller needs an audience. The new information I learn always sticks better if I have friends to get feedback. Unfortunately, after many attempts to promote the brewing at home, it’s rare to find partners in crime.
It is way easier to buy it off the shelf.
Unfortunately, the easy road is paved with unhappiness.
How Did I Start?
There are at least 5 learning obstacles common to all would be brewers that apply the trade.
1. Startup Costs
The day I made the decision to try my first brew, I had $200 burning a hole in my pocket.
Since my new family (a set of twins Hunter and Sawyer) was on the way I knew that I was going to need a hobby to keep me sane, preferably one that didn’t take me too far from the house.
The choice at the time was between an Aquaponics system or brewing beer. However enticing Murray Hallot’s Aquaponics system was, I was $800 short.
It’s easier to drink like fish than grow them.
The first beer is going to be expensive and it won’t look like the label. You have just purchased experience.
2. Lack of Space
The size of a kitchen varies from home to home, but unless you are a single dude eventually you are going try to run a six-hour brew day through a meal time.
This means that you will run into other members of your household looking to use the space.
Accidents will happen.
Try to imagine you’ve prepared a pancake meal for eight – pots and pans stacked everywhere, maple syrup has dripped on the floor along with hardened drips of pancake batter. You are boiling a sugar solution so if it touches anything it’s going to get dirty.
The solution is simple.
Take it outside.
Wouldn’t it be much nicer to have a dedicated shop or brew area that is set up to clean up properly? What if your wife just hates beer?
For the record, Calissa has valiantly tried my beer, but just can’t get past the smell! I wonder if it’s just my beer?
Fair Warning: This is the time to remind every young brewer that not all palettes are equal. Your best of friends may NEVER like your beer.
Don’t take this personally.
It is a fact.
The best advice that I’ve heard came from a wine sales representative from McMannis at a tasting I was invited to. He described the uniqueness of the human palette as a range of how they liked their coffee.
On this scale some will never drink coffee, some will drink coffee with cream and sugar, some with cream and on the far right, some drink coffee black. That’s the rub!
3. & 4. No Fabrication Skills and No Tools
If you don’t have the tools or skills to work a drill or angle grinder – forget trying to cut a lid off a beer keg.
It is awesome how many things you can learn off YouTube, unfortunately, you can’t download an angle grinder.
Three-dimensional printing will soon get us there, but then we would also just be able to “print” beer too.
I saved a bit in this area by possessing some general fabrication skills from living on a farm, and my boss at the golf club letting me use the shop to fabricate the tricky projects in a safe manner.
Doesn’t it make sense to just skip the nonsense and buy a pre-fabricated brew system?
Well guaranteed you are going to be out at least $1200.
Believe me “The Brewie” looked very sexy. Kinda like a roast chicken on survival island but I resisted to throw money down the drain.
4. Lack of Time
In the beginning, I recommend every brewer start with a kit. This is as necessary as training wheels on a bike.
You have to make a promise to at least try an all-grain mash. There are many on YouTube that will try to convince you that there is no difference between kits and all grain.
Just try it and decide for yourself.
As your skill set increases the brew day gets more complicated it’s going to take from 5 to 8 hours. That is a lot of time investment away from a family.
This doesn’t even include the cleanup process.
Do you have 8 hours on a Saturday to brew with a family?
My brews would usually start on a Saturday night after the boys would get to bed at 7:30 pm. It takes a bit to set up, get the water to temp, and start the main show at 8:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
That makes a long night by yourself.
I’ve always advocated finding a partner in crime, but a lot of guys can’t stay the whole time.
In order to pare down the process, I eventually came to the Brew-In-A-Bag process, but I couldn’t hit my target gravity on a regular basis, especially if it was cold outside.
A lot of these ideas have been proven on the Brulosophy blog. This is a great resource to find high-quality brewing techniques simplified for the normal guy.