It is time to start home brewing. The temperatures have cooled, the hops are just about ready in our garden and, since I have a tiny TV in my cellar brewing area, I spent the commercials of the Patriots’ season opener getting ready for the brewing season.

You can brew beer in the summer, but I don’t. Brewing was illegal during the summer in Bavaria because it was too warm. They invented Oktoberfest to celebrate the resumption of brewing.

In addition to tradition, I am busy gardening, fishing and doing other activities in the summer, so I don’t have time to brew. Besides, I still have about 50 home brews left from earlier seasons.

This week, I am going to describe how to start home brewing. This is how I started, and it is pretty much what I did for several years until 1991 (I remember because it was the morning after Hurricane Bob) when I took a home-brewing class at the now-gone Whip and Spoon on Commercial Street.

You are first going to have to go to a home-brewing supply store. There are four that I have used in the past few years: Maine Brewing Supply at 542 Forest Ave., Portland, 791-2739; The Hop Shop, 59 Portland Road, Gray, 657-5550 or (800) 253-5550; Kennebec Home Brew Supplies with shops in Farmington (778-5276) and Farmingdale (623-3368); and Oak Hill Beverage, 26 Oak Hill Plaza, Scarborough (883-3965).

For the first brew, you’ll want to buy a kit. This will include ingredients for your first 5-gallon batch of beer, a fermenting container, an air lock, bottle caps, a siphon hose, some sterilizing chemical and a bottle capper. You will also need a 2- or 3-gallon pot for boiling, a long-handled spoon for stirring and a supply of about 48 refillable bottles (not twist caps), preferably saved after drinking beer rather than purchased empty.

The ingredients are likely to include a can of pre-hopped liquid malt extract, 3 pounds of corn sugar and some yeast.

You will boil the malt and sugar with about a gallon of water for a very short time, pour it all into the fermenting container, and add enough water to make 5 gallons.

Some of the kit recipes I had early didn’t even require boiling the ingredients. You just poured a gallon of boiling water on them and stirred.

When the mixture – called wort – is at about 68 degrees, add the yeast. Put water in your air lock and wait a couple of weeks until it stops bubbling

It’s nice to have a separate large container at this point so you can siphon the wort off and stir in your priming sugar.

For my first few batches, I did not have this, so after sterilizing the bottles I put about a half teaspoon of priming sugar into each bottle and siphoned directly from the fermenting container. You just try to avoid having spent yeast on the bottom as much as possible.

You are going to spill, so pick your location well. This is why my brewing area is in the basement.

You then cap your bottles and wait a month before drinking – in theory. I usually begin testing after a week or two.

Once you have successfully brewed a couple of batches this way, you can step up to dry malt extract, choose your own pellet or liquid hops, select different yeasts and sort of design your own beer.

After a while, you can start brewing with leaf hops, grains and other ingredients. But remember, take baby steps. If you can bake a cake, you can brew beer, but you would not begin your cake baking with a marbled angel-food cake with seven-minute frosting, all done from scratch.

I know that there are home-brewing clubs and home brewers who are a lot more serious about all of this than I am. I would love to hear from you.

I TASTED SEBAGO BREWING CO.’S Local Harvest Ale – made from Maine malt and hops, and U.S. Sierra Nevada yeast – last week in both the cask and draft form.

It is a 6.1 percent alcohol American ale, which is almost quiet at the first taste but lingers with a strong taste of both malt and hops. Kai Adams, brewmaster and co-owner of the company, said people have told him they tasted biscuits, which I can accept.

The cask was my favorite, served at room temperature and carrying a much more subtle carbonation and silky texture. But I also enjoyed the draft: a cold, crisp, great fall ale. The cask Harvest Ale will be available tonight at Sebago’s Scarborough brew pub.

While you are reading this, I’m off in the woods of Maine fishing for landlocked salmon. I bought a case of Local Harvest Ale to take with me. I liked it that much.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at:

[email protected]