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Brew Can Lah

Quantum physicist and homebrewer Nick Lewty tells us about brewing beer at home

Photo: Natasha Hong

People are always a little shocked when I tell them I brew my own beer. They ask if it’s even legal, and whether the police will show up at our door and shut us down.

But since 2004, it’s been legal to brew if you had a license, and the government did away with that fee after 2008. I started in 2010 when a few friends and I wanted cheap beers to drink while watching the Barclays Premier League. I’ve been brewing with my partner since, and we now help to run the local homebrew club, Beer Can Lah, and brew-along sessions for people interested in getting into the hobby.

To start, we usually recommend getting an extract kit. This includes a fermentation tank, airlock, long spoon, hydrometer, yeast, beer extract and a whole lot of patience. It’s a good way to see if brewing is for you. Boil water, pour in the extract syrup, and leave it to ferment in the tank. After two weeks, you might get a drink that tastes a bit beer-ish with some fruity, funky off-flavours – the hot temperatures in Singapore certainly don’t help things. Your first beers won’t be good at all, but if you’re still determined to make your own brews at home, this is a good sign.

After a few batches of extract brewing, you’ll get the hang of sanitation and might make better brews as you go along. I upgraded to a full-mash set up and got refrigeration to help ferment my beers after six months – it’s the way the pro breweries make their beer, just on a smaller scale – and from then on, I made better beers. My favourite styles these days are India pale ales and crazy sour beers.

Brewing isn’t for everyone, but if you’re keen on checking it out, our favourite homebrew store, Homebrew Co-op (www.homebrewco.com.sg) runs learn-to-brew sessions. We also invite people around for brew-along sessions every few months. To join us, see bit.ly/brewwithbeercanlah.

See www.beercanlah.com for more info on homebrewing basics.