Solitary Brewing and Single Malt Beer

Home brewing is a great social activity but it’s also fun to do alone. Is either way better?

session 65
Nate from Booze Beats and Bites, the host of Session 65 (beer bloggers sharing thoughts), is collecting ideas on drinking alone.

He likes going to the pub by himself: to watch people, to work, to try new beers.

I agree that it’s fun to do that sometimes. But what does it have to do with home brewing?

The Solitary Brewer

Home brewing is ideal for group projects and shared Saturday afternoons.

Many jobs involve heavy lifting or awkward manouvres with a siphoning hose, and an extra pair of hands comes in, well, handy.

There’s also the opportunity to teach someone and watch their interest grow: it’s a rewarding experience that you can’t have alone.

But planning a brew is a different matter.

Ideas about ‘correct’ ingredients and techniques can sour the occasion. The beer suffers as well: a camel’s a horse designed by committee after all.

On the other hand, while not as lean and elegant, a group design can be more interesting and imaginative.

Perhaps there’s a time for both.

Social brewing offers immediate gratification and enjoyment. The brew is secondary to the gathering and it doesn’t really matter how it turns out. It’s fun anyway.

Solo brewing on the other hand is perfect relaxation and mindful enjoyment of your own company. You’re in control and the focus is on the beer.

The Loneliness of the Homemade Beer Drinker

When it comes to drinking home brew you may think your beer is delicious, but are others as blown away by it?

I think there’s a certain level of awe and appreciation when you offer someone a homemade beer that clouds the taste buds. In my experience, few people will notice the difference between (what I think is) a better or worse offering.

When it comes to enjoying your brew as much as you do, you really are on your own.

Solitary Brewing Ingredients

All this talk about drinking and brewing alone makes me want to brew something with lonely ingredients.

Following the great success of the Fuggled International Homebrew Project that used nothing but pale ale malt to brew a mild, I’m going to make some more single malt beer.

This time I’m using Munich malt.

I’m pretty sure that a lot of the rich malt flavour from the beers I’ve brewed recently (this porter and this stout for example) was due to the Munich, but I want to test it to be sure.

Consulting Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher, I noticed that Munich Dunkel is made more or less entirely from Munich malt with Hallertau hops. It’s brewed with lager yeast, which lets the malt flavour shine through.

However, to enable more useful comparison with the other beers I’m sticking with Fuggles (on their own, of course) and ale yeast. To minimise the ale-style fruity flavours, I’ll use Nottingham yeast which (as far as I’ve noticed) is fairly neutral tasting.

If you’re interested in a more lagery all Munich beer, have a look at this from Brew Dudes.

Recipe Volume
10 litres

Munich: 2.6 kg

Mash Time
90 mins

Mash Target Temperature

Fuggles (4.8%): 20g for 60 mins
(27 IBUs)

Danstar Nottingham Dry Yeast

60% efficiency

What Do You Think?

Do you have any comments on the recipe? Have you had success with single malt beers?

Do you prefer to brew alone or with friends?

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  1. I’m of the type that prefers to brew solo, if only so I’m not boring friends who might join me. For the few that have, they thought it was a very busy, intricate process. They’re somewhat saddened to find out it’s a lot of sitting and relaxing (for this extract brewer, at least).

    All-grain brewing is a different beast for which I’d love to have an extra pair of hands. But, there’s something fun about putting on some music or reading a book while my wort boils away.

    • John

      Thanks Bryan!

      I agree – brewing’s such a slow process that you have to enjoy the pace, and take advantage of having a whole day dedicated to one thing.