How to Brew Beer at Home
tThere is arguably no greater sense of fulfillment attainable in life, than the one derived from enjoying the fruits of one’s own labor. And when the fruits of your labor happen to be five gallons of high-quality, handcrafted, delicious MICRO-BREW BEER…well, let’s just say, victory has never tasted so sweet.
For anyone who enjoys to tipple, you’ve no doubt pondered over the possibilities of making your own. Sure it takes time, but, then again… all good things do come to those who wait.
Here’s everything you need to know, from ingredients, equipment and steps–to produce your very own MICRO-BREW BEER.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
First, you’ll need a few things:
- A digital scale for measuring ingredients (for best quality and proven accurate measurements, go with an Escali scale)
- A large pot capable of holding at least three gallons of water without boiling over. This will be your brew pot.
- A strainer (the bigger the better) for removing hops and grain prior to fermentation
- One large funnel
- Bottled water in three gallon plastic container (for fermenting)
- A second container of 3 gallons or more (either a second empty water bottle or a scratch-less, sanitized bucket)
- 3-4 ft of 3/8″ clear polyvinyl tubing
- Bottles and a bottle capper
You can easily purchase all of these items at your local hardware store, but you will definitely want to look into some of the options on the market for homebrewing starter kits. They come outfitted with everything you will need, and often the containers and specialized accessories will smooth things along and help ensure better sanitation (a key factor in brewing).
Next, you need to get the organic ingredients for your beer. For this, you’ll need to visit your neighborhood homebrew supply shop, or do some online ordering. Here’s what to pick-up:
- Malt Extract
- Brewers Yeast
- Ordinary sugar
**The amounts of each ingredient vary depending on the type of beer you want to make and some recipes call for additional ingredients like hops or crystal malt. So hunt down a recipe online that fits your personal tastes to determine the exact quantities you will need and whether or not there are any special additions to be included.
TIP: Use a digital scale to measure ingredients and maintain consistency between multiple batches. Measuring ingredients by weight with a digital scale is preferred because it is much more accurate than measuring by volume.
STEP 1: SANITIZE
Sanitation is probably the single most important factor in the brewing process, so be thorough. Wash all of your equipment with warm soapy water and sterilize with a solution of 1 tsp bleach diluted in 1 gallon of water. Rinse thoroughly. Also, a good tip if you are using a new plastic container, rinse it out with a solution of water and baking soda to remove that lingering plastic taste.
STEP 2: BOILING
Now pour 2.5 gallons of your bottled water into the brew pot. Make sure there is plenty of room left in the pot to avoid a boil over! Stir in your malt extract and boil for one hour. As it boils, dunk in your strainer for about 15 minutes to sanitize it for later use. When the hour is up, submerse the pot into an ice bath in the sink and allow it to cool until the sides of the pot are chilled. The faster you can get it cool the better.No need to stress too much; it will take time. Now, you have what is called wort (unfermented beer).
STEP 3: PREPARING THE FERMENTATION
Using the strainer and the funnel, pour your cooled wort into your fermenting bottle– straining out everything but the liquid. Because some of the water will have boiled off, add more to the solution until you have 2.5 gallons of liquid again (MEASURE!). Now, add in your brewing yeast and stir thoroughly until it is dissolved.
At this point, you will need to seal the container in such a way that carbon dioxide can escape without letting in any outside air. Most brewing kits come with simple airlocks for this purpose, but if you went without the kit, just use a small length of tubing and a glass of water to serve the purpose. Drill a hole in the lid of your container, secure the tube tightly in the hole so that air can’t escape and put the other end in water. This way, gas can bubble off of the yeast without any air entering.
Here is a great photo and more in-depth look at the different types of fermenters available by John Palmer.
STEP 4: WAIT 4-7 DAYS
This one is ‘easy’. Just keep your batch in a dark space for a week and try to contain your excitement… you can do it! Just think of the delicious concoction waiting for you on the other side! In the meantime, go play some football, go swimming, plan a poker night with your buddies, or if you must… just stare at your homebrew…it’s really up to you!
STEP 5: CARBONATION PRIMING
At this point, you will have flat beer. The sugars in the malt have been converted to CO2 and alcohol, but you’ve allowed the CO2 to seep out through the air lock. You will need more sugar to produce carbonation, so boil together 3/8 cup of corn sugar with one cup of water (MEASURE!) for five minutes and pour it into your large sanitized container. Then, siphon your beer into the new container on top of the sugar, being sure not to stir up too much of the sediment on the bottom of the tank. Now, you are ready for bottling!
STEP 6: BOTTLING
Finally, it is time to bottle your beer. The best idea is to use brown glass bottles with metal pry-off tops, but you can also get creative here if you like. For example, reuse champagne bottles or old soda bottles! Just make sure that your cap seals securely enough to contain the carbonation and that the bottles are thoroughly sanitized in a bleach/water solution beforehand. Siphon or pour the beer into the bottles, cap them and store the case in a cool dark place again for another 10 days. During this time, the yeast will further ferment, the alcohol content of your beer will increase and it will become carbonated. Again, get outside, focus on some work or if you must….stare at your concoction and dream about the smooth, liquid gold you’ve created with your own two hands with a little bit of science. Wow, you’re so smart!
STEP 7: DRINK!
Woo-hoo! We all have to admit, this is by far the best step of all! It is time to enjoy your beer! Make sure it’s chilled (nothing worse than warm beer…) and serve. One of the best ways to celebrate your accomplishments, is to invite all your friends over for a tasting party. Receiving compliments for a beer you personally created is one of the best feelings in the world. One suggestion: taste the beer (bottled form) before you unleash it on your friends. You wouldn’t want everyone’s face to turn sour the second they take a sip…(even if they do, a little constructive criticism never hurt anyone. You now have a lifetime hobby you can always work/learn from and continually strive for the best!)
HAPPY BREWING, BEER-LOVERS! Oh, ONE last thing as a word to the wise: whatever you do, don’t let your brew boil over during step two….