In November last year, two colleagues and I happened to talk over lunch about home-brewing beer; a few days later packages with equipment arrived at our door-steps. None of us had any real experience and I only vaguely remembered a good podcast (CRE 194, in German) on the subject. But how hard could it be?
So we read a few websites and ended up following the beginner's instructions at brauanleitung.de. Our equipment is for the standard homebrewers' batch size of ~20 liters (5 gallons), meaning a big pot, two plastic buckets, one for filtration, one for fermenting; a few hoses and connectors, plus the actual ingredients for our batch #1: a single hop and single (Pilsner) malt for a German-style "Altbier", that is a light ale like they were made before Lagers became popular.
The result was good. Not the most amazing beer ever (partly because we were impatient and did not give it enough time from bottle fermentation to drinking), but definitely good enough to continue! I will link below to the GoogleDocs that we used for keeping our logs; these are in a varying mix of three languages (Swe/Ger/Eng) since we all know them to some degree and gathered recipes and information this way. But fellow brewers should be possible to read the recipes anyway.
Our #2 was an Irish Red Ale. This was a big step up, following a proper recipe with four times as many ingredients as our #1. We thought it would fit nicely as a Christmas beer, and it sure did. Very malty, not much hops, almost sweet because of the liquid yeast with lower attenuation.
The Brown Ale #3 came into being through me just taking some remaining ingredients from the previous two batches. It turned out quite all right, more bitter and hoppy than #2, less malty.
Next we wanted to try a Lager, since our closet in wintertime holds a temperature of 10-12 C, perfect for bottom-fermentation. So #4 became a Helles, that is a Munich-style light lager and it went really well. Clear, great color and taste, better than the average commercial Helles I tried at the time in Munich.
Continuing in the same line, our #5 is a Pilsner. Quite happy with that one as well, on the upper end of hop and bitterness for my liking, but far from any of the trendy IPAs that go berserk on the hops. The dry yeast settled better in the bottle than the one we had for #4, so it it easier to pour clear into the glass.
For #6 we went for a Dark Ale that has some torrefied maize among the ingredients. It makes for a fantastic foam, but maybe we overdid the carbonation a little because it foams by itself when opening a bottle, and the sediment gets torn up and mixed. Fortunately it settles quickly in the glass after pouring. Another very pleasant malty ale!
#7 is Copper Cascade, another Lager, reddish this time, probably the last for this winter. This batch is about to be bottled, so no verdict on the outcome yet.
Overall the above means that I now have a little stash at home to enjoy whenever I feel like it, which is very luxurious. We have some routine in brewing and bottling now, no screw-ups yet, it is still fun and considering Swedish prices on beer, our small investment in the beginning has already more than paid for itself. We will therefore continue, maybe at a slightly slower pace than recently. Next in line are a Bavarian wheat beer and an IPA. The malts and hops are already on the way.