Brewing beer can be complicated, but we will make it as easy as possible. Home Brewing is cost-effective and a fun hobby. What tastes better than something you made yourself? Follow our super easy steps on How to brew beer at home, Beginners Guide.
For more brewing tips check our 10 Homebrewing tips, recommendations, and hacks, Week 10
Without fermentation, we wouldn’t be enjoying beer, wine, or cider. It’s a process that happens when you add yeast to sugar substances, like wort in making beer. The yeast converts the sugars to alcohol.
2. Beer basic ingredients
- Water accounts for 90% of beer. If you like how your water tastes, it should be good for brewing. There are various water adjustments you can make to increase the flavor. However, those are not mandatory, especially if you are just starting out.
- Malt provides a source of sugar for the yeast to ferment. Some examples would be barley, wheat, rye, or even rice.
- Hops are the bittering component of the beer. They also add flavor and aroma. They balance the sweetness of the malt.
- Yeast is a microorganism that converts the sugars from malt to alcohol and carbon dioxide.
First, you need to heat the water in the kettle. Feel free to brew in your own kitchen or on a propane burner. The size of the kettle you need depends on the amount of beer you want to make. For example, for 5.5-gallon batches you need an 8-gallon kettle. If you want to start by brewing a smaller batch just use the largest pot you have at home.
Mashing is a process of steeping the grains in hot water to extract the sugars from the grain. This way you create an unfermented beer called wort. It contains the sugars needed for fermentation. There are 3 different ways to mash:
- Extracts, come in dry or liquid form. You just add water to create instant wort. This is the easiest way for beginners, and there is less equipment needed.
- All grain uses the raw ingredient of grains. This allows for more control over the final product because you can choose which grains to use. For this, you will need additional equipment to soak the grains. There are many ways to do the all-grain mash. We prefer to brew in a bag. Of all methods, this might be the easiest way.
- Partial mash is a combination of using extract and a few specialty grains that you do a mini-mash which you add to the wort.
Typically we mash between 145 to 158 F. Mashing at the high end of that range increases the body of the beer, while mashing on the low end extracts more fermentable sugars into a higher alcohol content.
Once the water is warmed up, we add the grain malt. No matter which mash method you choose just make sure the temperature is where you want it to be.
Boiling the liquid is done to concentrate the wort, kill any bacteria or wild yeast, and in order to extract flavor from hops and other ingredients. Hops are a plant that is grown on a bine, and you can use the whole leaf or pellet. Boiling hops for different amounts of time affects what is pulled out of them. The longer you boil, the more bitterness you extract. Shorter you boil, more aroma and flavors you take from the hops.
Each variety of hops can have a different flavor. It is a fun area to experiment with. You can always try something new.
5. Cooling down the wort
Try cooling down your wort by putting your kettle in an ice bath. You can also use a wort chiller or a plate chiller. These instruments help cool your wort down fast. Wort needs to be cooled down to fermentation temperature so the yeast can perform. If the wort is too hot, it will kill the yeast.
The next piece of equipment you need is food safe cleaner and sanitizer. When brewing, you need to make sure that every item that comes with your wort or beer is sanitized. This helps control the wild bacteria in yeast that might affect your beer, causing it to spoil.
Once the wort is cooled down we can transfer it into a fermenter. There are a lot of different options for fermenters. Other helpful tools to use are hydrometer and refractometer. These tools are used to know how fermentable the wort is. If you don’t have these tools, you can still make beer. But you won’t know how strong it is.
6. Adding the yeast
Two main categories of yeast are ale yeast and lager yeast. After adding the yeast of your choice you should put an airlock stopper in your fermenter. It allows carbon dioxide out, without letting anything in.
Place the fermenter in a cool and dark place depending on if you are fermenting an ale or a lager. You can tell the fermentation is complete when airlock bubbling slows down. Once fermentation is ended we need to get the beer out. We do that with an auto siphon. It sucks liquid from one container to the next.
You can use flip top bottles so you don’t have to cap them. Just make sure you are using fermentation grade bottles that can stand pressure. Do not use decorative bottles. They are not strong enough. Remember to clean and sanitize bottles before bottling. If there is anything left in the bottle it could affect the flavor and carbonation of your beer.
Fill them up with beer and appropriate amount of sugar based on your calculation and cap away. Its important to not to add too much sugar. The beer needs to say in cool and dark place for 2 weeks till the bottles have reached peak carbonation.
Kegging really makes things easier. You only transfer the beer from the fermenter once. It also carbonates faster than bottles because it uses forced carbonation with a tank of carbon dioxide. You don’t need to add any additional sugar to create carbonation.
Once the beer is ready, pour it into a keg, close it, connect to the CO2 tank. adjust to desired PSI (pressure per square inch) and in about one week it’s ready to drink. Try using a kegerator, which is a mini-fridge converted to serving beer. With a tap on the front and a keg and CO2 tank in the fridge, your beer will be kept icy cold.
A few odd things which really help in the cleaning process:
- Long and stiff bristle brush to clean up sediment and fermentation residue from the fermenter.
- Beer cleaner designed specifically for removing beer residue.
Now we all make mistakes but we have listed some for your to avoid.
- Once the fermentation has started keep beer our of direct and bright light.
- Oxygen is important for the yeast to perform its job, but when yeast has started the fermentation avoid oxygen.
- Be careful not to splash your beer too much, especially during bottling.