Before you’ve started making any type of homebrew, or if you haven’t brewed many batches yet, the smell of homebrewing crosses all of our minds, so exactly how strong is the smell of homebrewing?
Homebrewing will produce different smells at different stages of the process;
Smell during Boiling
If you buy a ‘done for you’ kit you won’t need to worry about this as you will have the wart (unfermented beer) ready to ferment, but if you are making your own, the wart needs to be boiled to settle the proteins and kill all the unwanted organisms.
It is this stage that smells the most in the whole boiling process. The best way to think about it is that you are cooking something, so you will get associated cooking smells depending on what you are cooking; So this greatly depends on exactly what type of wart you are boiling.
During this stage, the smell of homebrewing is strong, but like any other cooking smell, this is limited to around the time of actually boiling. If you live with other people, it might be an idea to time the boiling so no-one else is around, or get everyone involved in the process.
Overall, the smell during the boiling part of homebrewing is nothing to be worried about as long as you clean up after yourself, you should not worry at all for this section.
Smell during Fermenting
The question ‘how strong is the smell of homebrew?‘ is most relevant to this section, as this will be relevant to everyone starting to homebrew. During the fermentation, odour is released due to the reaction with the yeast, and although the smell is constant throughout the fermenting, it can usually only be smelt from around 6 inches or so away.
The smell during this stage is (a little) more consistent, some saying it smells like baking bread, others say like grape-nuts. Whatever you think it smells like, it’s clear it is like Marmite, you are either going to love it or hate it.
That being said you should have made space for the fermentation process out of the way – so the smell during this phase should not be a problem either.
Some beers can give off a sulpher-type smell during fermenting, but again as long as you make sure everything is clean you shouldn’t run into any issues
So the smell of homebrewing isn’t bad at all?
It’s true, the smell of homebrewing isn’t as bad as some people say; but there is definitely an odour during the boiling and fermenting stages. The boil is the part where you will have the most odour.
If you are at all worried about the smell of homebrewing, don’t let that put you off giving it a try, but I would recommend getting an all in one kit, where you don’t need to worry about the boil, and it is a great start to easily ‘dip your feet’ into homebrewing.