Two and a half years ago, my friend Brandon got me hooked (by accident I might add) on Mango Magnifico (a craft beer which was ONLY made 1 season & never to be found again - trust me, I've tried). By the way, Mango Magnifico had 10% alcohol & a strong kick of habanero to it. After much talking about trying to recreate it, my wife bought me a kit for my birthday soon thereafter — perhaps a mistake on her part as you can see from all the pics. I'm not going to try to provide a step by step guide, because a blog post could never do it justice. There are just too many steps & considerations — that's what the books are for (mentioned below). Home-brewed beer just tastes better. If you have a bit of patience and a DIY attitude, then you'll most likely find home-brewing to be your next hobby.
To date, I've brewed 3 times. I still have excess yeast sediment in the bottles (which in large quantities can cause intestinal disturbances) & I haven't been able to come close to the taste of Magnifico, but I've matched the alcohol content & exceeded its hotness. I must admit, my beer is pretty good as the few people I've shared it with have asked me when they can get more.
Gear in the picture is listed here:
- Star San
- 7 Gal Brew Pot
- Brew Thermometer
- Wort Chiller
- 21" Stir Spoon
- 7 Gal Carboy
- Carboy Nylon Strap
- Carboy Handle
- Carboy Airlock
- Racking Cane & Auto Siphon
- Stick On Thermometer
- 22 oz Bottles & 16 oz Bottles
- Bottle Tree
- Strainer Bucket
- Heating Pad & Dimmer (to control the amount of heat)
- 14" Plastic Hydrometer Test Tube (not pictured)
Specific ingredients are from Adventures in Homebrewing. I've tried only a few stores, but these guys have a high attention to detail. I don't foresee changing anytime soon.
Using a beer kit is the way to get started, as I don't recommend going all out until you get comfortable with all the gear and steps. I referenced 2 books (Sustainable Homebrewing & The Brewmaster's Bible) before & throughout the process which tremendously helped as a guide. You can either write out your recipes manually, or in my case, use iBrewMaster to help design them & keep you on track during the brew. Below is an in-progress pic of my first non-kit brew.
I intend to buy a propane burner soon as brewing on the stove takes way too long to achieve a boil with 7 gallons. Besides running my stove-top at max for hours which can be damaging, it really heats up the house and raises the humidity quite a bit. After all the hard work of actually doing "the cook" and cooling the wort, it's transferred to the fermenter (a carboy in my case). As you can see from the GIF, the yeast is consuming the sugar quite vigorously. This is where the patience comes in as the yeast takes a couple of days to whip itself into a frenzy & settles down only after a couple more days, but you'll still have to wait 2-4 weeks before bottling the beer, & yet a few more weeks for it to age. Hopefully this was a good quick overview to peak your interest. Cheers!