Make Beer in Your Small Apartment

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The thing people always ask you when you tell them you’re homebrewing is: Doesn’t it smell bad? The answer is no. Brewing beer at home really doesn’t smell bad. it actually smells pretty god.

After you get that out of the way, the next thing people ask about is space. “Don’t you need a garage,” they ask. Nope! You may be thinking that to brew good drinkable beer, you need industrial equipment, a basement, a garage, or some additional space. But you don’t! Smaller places really just mean smaller batches. I just brewed two batches of beer and I live in a pretty typically small-sized Brooklyn apartment. I call this kind of brewing “nanobrewing.”

And, thanks to a little thing known as the Ikea Effect, you’ll actually end up appreciating the beer you do make in your small apartment more than almost any other you’ve had.

During the mash, pre-sparge.

During the mash, pre-sparge.

During the boil after the sparge with hops cooking away.

During the boil after the sparge with hops cooking away.

In my case, nanobrewing means a gallon (about ten beers) each time (I’ve heard this is also a technical term for tiny microbrew operations, so maybe I just need to call it “super-nanobrewing”). The good thing about brewing such small batches is that you don’t have to buy too much in the way of new equipment (large pots, etc.) to do it. And, you don’t need a lot of space to store the bottles while your beer ferments. You pretty much just need an empty cabinet and that's about it.

After the boil and ready to ferment for two weeks. Afterwards, I put a blowoff tube on top and moved the jug to a dark place for fermentation.

After the boil and ready to ferment for two weeks. Afterwards, I put a blowoff tube on top and moved the jug to a dark place for fermentation.

It takes about a month to make beer. But during that month, it’s mostly just waiting. There’s really only a few hours of actual work. You’ll need a few hours to make your mash and sparge it. This is basically like cooking up oatmeal and pouring hot water over it. Then you’ll need to pour it into your fermenter (a glass jug in my case), add some yeast, and let it sit for a few weeks. Then you transfer it to bottles and let it sit again for a couple weeks. That’s pretty much it.

Making beer is a lot like making bread. It’s simple and doesn’t have that many steps, but since you’re working with yeast, which can be a little temperamental, you just have to make sure you follow your recipe closely and are kind to your yeast.

I bought my brew kits from Brooklyn Brew Shop. A kit, all in with everything you need, is $48. You can go deeper and buy more involved kits and ingredients, but if you’re like me and take the “low effort, high reward” approach, then look no further than Brooklyn Brew Shop. The kits also come in a bunch of flavors. I suggest a mosaic Double IPA, or the New England IPA, which adds a dry hope step to the process, and that’s always a good thing.

If you’ve ever felt inclined, just get to it and make some beer. It’s far easier than you’d think. In fact, thanks to the Ikea Effect, I promise your beer will be the best beer you’ve ever tasted.


Having siphoned the beer out and added a small bit of honey, here I am bottling. The bottles wait for another two weeks for a second fermentation. This is when they get fizzy.

Having siphoned the beer out and added a small bit of honey, here I am bottling. The bottles wait for another two weeks for a second fermentation. This is when they get fizzy.

Cold and ready to go.

Cold and ready to go.

My first batch was a hazy double IPA. It looked good and, yes, it was the best beer I’ve ever had.

My first batch was a hazy double IPA. It looked good and, yes, it was the best beer I’ve ever had.