My Ultimate Homebrewing Bucket List
Updated: Dec 19, 2020
There are 100s of beer styles, spanning a great deal of history and brewing traditions. From Africa, Europe and the Americas, there is so much choice. I am a lover of so many of these styles and I aspire to learn how to brew as many as possible. Some are higher on my list because they are favourites and pretty tough to find in the UK, while others made the list because I think they would be cool to produce even if I am less interested in drinking them. Being relatively new to brewing I thought I would tell you all what my big brew bucket list is, i.e. the beers I am hoping to brew in the next couple of weeks, months and years.
I am a massive lover of darker beer styles. The creamy, roasted, caramelly flavour just works for me and I am seriously keen to get into brewing as many dark beers as possible. Here are a few that I am planning to do:
This beer style originates from my hometown of London, a city that I love and have lived in my whole life. The Porter has existed since the 18th century, and its creation has been widely attributed to a London brewer called Ralph Harwood. Porters are generally light bodied for a darker beer and incredibly sessionable especially from cask. Given its London origins it is one of the few beers that we can actually brew using tap water, rather than buying bottled mineral water. Some of my favourite porters include Guinness West Indies Porter, the Meantime Chocolate Porter and Tiny Rebel's Stay Puft Marshmellow Porter. Taking inspiration from all these beers and creating our own house porter would be incredible, especially with some fruity addition, such as blueberries.
Foreign Export Stout
I would absolutely love to learn how to brew a Foreign Export Stout. Coming from Nigerian heritage I have grown up with Guinness Foreign Export Stout at every family gathering and hall party. If there is only one beer on the menu, that beer will be the trusty Guinness Foreign Export. I remember once as a child sneaking a sip at a family party and being so disgusted by how bitter it tasted, that I did not try it again until I reached the ripe old age of 28. This Guinness is different to the typical Irish Stout that most are accustomed to. It is brewed in Nigeria and exported to the world. It is 7.5%, so pretty strong, brewed with IKE (isomerised kettle extract) for a strong bitter taste. Apart from the Guinness option, Foreign Export Stouts are a pretty hard style to find in the UK. The only other brewery I can think who have given it a go are The Kernel Brewery. The Foreign Export Stout is a lovely beer and I need to learn how to brew it.
I have plans to brew a plain stout in the next couple of weeks which I am very excited about. However, one of my long term goals is to brew a flavoured stout. I would love to make a fruity stout with cherries, raspberries or plums; or a chocolately, caramel or coffee based stout. Maybe adding some lactose to make a milk stout or some oats to create an oatmeal stout. Whatever the addition, I know it will be tasty. If I can get anything close to wonders of tasty beers such as The Wild Beer Co's Jambo! or Siren's Broken Dream Breakfast Stout I would be pretty damn pleased with myself.
This might actually be my favourite style of beer, but I am not ready to 100% commit to this because I don't get to drink it that often. This is mostly because dark lagers are incredibly hard to find in the UK. I first encountered dark lager on a trip to Germany back in 2013. Here I sampled the local Schwarzbier, and was so impressed by how light and refreshing this beer was while providing all those dark roasty flavours that you can only get from a well brewed dark beer. I have also been lucky enough to try many more dark lagers when visiting the Czech Republic in 2018 and 2019. Mixing a dark and light lager is a Czech speciality that I have yet to experience elsewhere. I I still don't understand why it is hard to find this style in the UK. In terms of commercial breweries in the UK, I have only seen Brewdog's Zeitgeist attempt the style, hence I would love to learn to brew this so I can sample it more often. Sadly, as we don't have the temperature control systems required to produce lagers at the moment, this is more of a long term goal for when we have more sophisticated equipment.
Many iterations of the Indian Pale Ale (IPA)
The IPA is the style that I most heavily associate with the craft beer movement. Being able to produce a fantastic IPA of similar or even better standard than a commercial brewery is one of my ultimate brewing goals. This is why all our brews to date have been IPAs. But apart from the simple Citra SMaSH IPAs we have done to date I have a couple more I would like to try!
Double dry hopped IPA (DDIPA)
I have only recently got into the DDIPA as a concept, after trying Lucky by Pressure Drop, which was a lush double dry hopped New England IPA. This is an incredible beer made with Simcoe hops and I would love to have a go at making my own. We have tried dry hopping our beers so far but nothing too crazy. It will be interesting to see the impact increasing the hop quantity or the number of dry hopping steps will have on the overall brew. I am imagining a super hoppy IPA treat in the future.
Double IPA (DIPA)
I have to admit this is not my favourite style, I find it a bit too strong and overwhelming but I am intrigued to brew one. I feel like I would learn a great deal about brewing from a DIPA. The more complicated grain bill and hops will be interesting. Also D absolutely loves this style so would be pretty keen to give it a go. One DIPA that I do enjoy is Deucebox by FourPure which packs a punch at 8.3%, but provides some seriously impressive citrus flavour.
The water in London is terrible for brewing IPAs in general, so we use bottled water from Tesco for all our brews. We have yet to put our feet into understanding water chemistry but I think once we do, this will be one of the first styles that we will brew. This is one of those beers that I enjoy the look of as well as the taste. The creamy, opaque, light golden colour you get from a hazy IPA is hard to beat. We just need to figure out how to get a New England water profile from our horribly hard London water. Great hazy IPA examples, include Brewdog's Hazy Jane and London Beer Factory's Hazey Daze.
"Lupulin-Industrial Complex • first pour"by found_dramais licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Juicy Pale ale
My interest in making a super juicy pale ale was inspired by Five Point's JUPA. This beer is a pale ale hopped with Simcoe, Citra and Mosiac hops, to create a tropical beer with little bitterness. Homebrewing a super tropical or citrusy flavoured beer would be amazing. If I could brew one with mango, grapefruit or pineapple aromas that would be incredible.
Sour beer is a style that has taken me by surprise. I remember the first sour I ever tried was Siren's Calypso back in 2016. I absolutely hated it and could not handle it. Back then it was far too much from my taste buds. Since then my taste has completely changed and sours are straight up my street. In fact, Calypso which once seemed so overwhelming now feels pretty tame. Homebrewing a sour would be an incredible achievement but as exciting as it would be to brew, it is lower down my list because of the length of time it takes (months rather than weeks). The combination of introducing wild yeast and bacteria takes time, that and the need of separate equipment to avoid contaminating our main brewing equipment means this is a long way in the future. Besides I am too exciting by homebrewing at the moment to have that level of patience.
I have this image of brewing some amazing Christmas themed beers like a spiced porter or stout. Can you imagine ginger, cloves, all-spice and cinnamon in an incredible brew. Maybe a sticky toffee pudding stout! That sounds pretty lush to me! It would be pretty damn cool to gift people a 4 pack of Christmas beers.
Last but not least I was chatting to my Mum on the phone and telling her about my homebrewing and she told me that my Grandma used to brew beer using Plantain back in Nigeria. So naturally I have this need to figure out so I can re-create what my Gran would have done all those years ago. This will require lots of research but I hope to one day achieve it!
This bucket list is just a small snapshot of all the beers that I would like to brew and there are so many more styles I am excited to produce in the future.
What styles of beer are you excited about brewing?