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Beer: Someone once told me, if you can make soup, you can make beer. So...

The IPA brewed by my friend Kevin

“HERE'S the IPA, but don't touch it for about a week or it'll go straight through you.” That was what my friend Kevin told me as he handed me a brown opaque bottle of his latest homebrew.

A week before, we had sipped and ruminated on his lovely plum ale and smooth vanilla porter. The IPA wasn't bad either but, in his own words, it had more of the look and profile of an English bitter – dark brown and malty – although there was a hint of fruitiness from the Citra he'd proudly added to the brew.

Even if it had tasted like stale dishwasher, I still would have had huge admiration for Kevin. Home brewing isn't easy, but it can be very rewarding.

I've always found it a daunting prospect but someone once told me, if you can make soup, you can make beer and Kevin's IPA got me thinking. Tryanuary is all about exploring new directions in beer and why can that not include home brewing?

I'm in no way qualified to deliver tips on home brewing if you fancy taking up a new hobby for the new year or if your beer funds have been seriously depleted after the festive season. So, I got in touch with the good folks at Belfast Homebrewers to see what tips they would impart.

They first thing they suggest is keeping things simple to start with. Get your hands on a basic brewing kit. Even the most basic ale recipe can be ‘pimped' up with different kinds of hops so it's best to get used to the brewing process before you start thinking about all the different styles you'd like to brew.

You should also write everything down along the way as notes from previous brews can help you improve future brews. While you don't want spend too much money at the start, it's worth investing in useful equipment such as thermometers and bottle cappers.

Hygiene is very important, so make sure everything you are going to use is cleaned and sanitised before you start. Once you've got a few brews under you belt, consider joining a club and entering competitions. This is the best way to meet like-minded brewers and swap tips.

You should also immerse yourself in as many books and articles about home brewing as possible – can never know too much about brewing. And check out online brewing shops for equipment.

For more information about home brewing check out

www.nationalhomebrewclub.ie/forum/belfast-homebrewers/

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