Homebrewing Made Easy
Homebrewing Made Easy
Homebrewing is as popular as ever with people around the nation taking to their garages and basements to make some of the most delicious small batches of beer the world has ever seen.
The following are some pretty simple directions on how to go about making your own homebrew. Once you have the materials you need the only thing holding you back from making great beer is the limits of your own imagination.
All beer needs at least the following 4 ingredients, everything else is just icing on the cake.
Charcoal filtered water is best. Some city water with excessive chlorine should be boiled, if not filtered, in order to drive off the free chlorine. Distilled water is not recommended (since it doesn’t contain any minerals) and a rule of thumb is; if it tastes good to you, then use it. However, make sure that you taste your water while its warm since cold water masks flavors. Water will definitely affect the taste of your brew, so make sure you use great water.
Malt is a grain that has been prepared to have it's starch turned into sugar. You will more than likely be using a malt extract when you are brewing at home. These are the sugars from the malt that have been condensed into a syrup or dried into a powder. Using malt extracts is the easiest way to brew an great tasting beer. Brewing directly from malt (grain) requires investment in more expensive equipment ($100-$150 or more for high end equipment) and requires additional time. The trade off is that it will cost you less in ingredients, gives you more control, and you can brew a significantly different type of beer. The main grain in beer is almost always barley. The other grains such as corn, wheat, rice, etc., are known as adjunts and will lighten, cheapen, and/or change the flavor of your beer.
Hops are flowers that add bitterness, flavor, and aroma to beer. The bitterness provides an even balance to the brew. The amount of bitterness depends of the type of hop (the alpha acid content) and the length of time in the boil (cooking process which is about 40+ minutes). Flavoring by hops comes from adding hops to the brew near the end of the boil.(20-15 minutes). Aroma is achieved by adding hops during the last 2 minutes or by dry hopping or which means adding hops during last of the fermentation before bottling. Hops also act as a preservative. A pleasantly bitter brew is a better beer. Don't think of bitter being as bad. Buy some better bottled beers between brewing and bottling your brew batch and taste for bitterness, body, and bouquet.
Yeast is a microscopic plant that causes sugars to be turned into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas, this process is called fermentation. There are two types of beer yeast, ale and lager. Ale is top fermenting, at a warmer temperature, and makes a fruitier tasting brew. Lager is bottom fermenting, at a cooler temperature, takes more time, and makes a drier, crisper brew. Yeast comes either dried or in a liquid pouch. Dry yeast are widely available, easy to use, keep well, and are inexpensive, but they have sometimes been contaminated. Unless you have a place to store lager such as a spare refrigerator or basement, ale will be your choice of brew.
The only way to make great beer(or any kind of beer) is to remember that it is absolutely necessary to keep everything, that touches your brew clean.
You need to have as "germ" free environment for your brew as much as possible and practical. There are several cleaners on the market today that are produced specifically for brewing. In addition to those, the following are also great at keeping a brew area sanitized.
CHLORINE (household bleach)
Bleach (non-scented) is a cheap and an effective disinfectant and cleaner. Two ounces in 5 gallons of water and an overnight soak will clean your glass fermenter. 1/2 tsp. to 1&1/2 tsp. in 5 gallons of water with 1/2 to 1 hour soak will sanitize. Also, 1 1/2 ounces per gallon is good as a sanitizing sponge wash with three hot clear water rinses. Warning: Chlorine is corrosive to stainless steel, copper, brass, and it's not too good for your skin.
Boiling also sanitizes. Don't boil plastic equipment as it may deform and become useless. You can sanitize your brew water by boiling and some brewers will insist that it is mandatory (if you don't filter it). At least you would get rid of the chlorine, but you will also get rid of oxygen (yeast needs oxygen during the first 24 hours of fermentation, so you must vigorously stir air back into the boiled water before use).
DIRTY DISH TOWELS
Don't ruin your efforts by drying off your equipment with some dirty towel. Sanitize your work area and let your equipment air dry(or use it wet). Keep cats, kids, canaries, canines, and other annoyances out. Keep the windows shut, because most bad beer bugs are airborne.
There are 4 general ways to make beer. Which one you choose to use is ultimately dependent on your comfort zone.
METHOD #1 You have bought a big box of concentrated wort. (this is what you put in your fermenter, add water to 5 gallons, pour in your yeast and go to step # 11)
METHOD #2 You have bought a canned kit recipe and extra malt extract with no hops.
METHOD #3 You have bought a kit with plain malt extract and hops and maybe grain (kit #3)
METHOD #4 You are brewing from grain and are not reading this.
#1 Start a gallon and one half or so of water heating to a boil in your brew kettle.
If you are using extract syrup, soak the can(s) in hot water in the sink. This is to make the thick syrup easier to get out of the can and mix with your boiling brew kettle water. When your brew kettle water comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and completely stir in your malt extract(syrup or dried).
If you are using a canned recipe as highlighted in Method #2 (which is designed for a particular beer style) DO NOT ADD THIS NOW. Otherwise add all of your extract now. If you are using dried malt extract (DME), pour it in a bowl and then use the bowl to pour it into the brew pot. The steam from your pot will make the malt gooey and you can dip the gooey bowl in the brew pot to get all the gooey goodness in. The plastic bag will capture the steam and most of your DME will liquify inside your bag and you have no real way to use it then. Remember, to completely mix your malt and brew water.
# 2 Return to the heat and boil.This mixture is referred to as wort and will boil over if you are not careful. Boil over will ruin your mixture.
If you are using a canned recipe kit (method #2), boil the wort for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Now is when you add the canned recipe kit syrup and mix completely. Proceed to step #7
If you using unhopped extract (method #3) which requires hopping, now is the time to put in your bittering hops. The length of boil determines the bitterness of your brew. Follow your beer recipe time exactly!
# 3 Add your finishing hops five to ten minutes before the end of the boil or better yet, exactly when your recipe says to add them. Typical total boil time for all the hops is roughly 1 hour.
You are finished boiling so take your brew pot with the lid on it over to the sink full of cold water and set the pot in it.
# 4 Now, get your yeast started. Take a tall clean glass and put a cup of warm water in it (the same water as in your primary fermenter) and pour in your yeast... watch it absorb water for 5 minutes,stir it up, cover with a baggie.
# 5 Returning to the brew pot, stir the wort until the sink water gets hot, then replace the hot sink water with cold fresh. After you have cooled the brew pot down to about 100 degrees, then pour the wort into your primary fermenter which has a couple gallons of brewing water in it. Then, you will want to fill it up to the five gallon mark.
# 6 Vigorously stir in air into your wort.... froth it up, foam it up, this is the only time this is good to do, so have a ball. Take your first hydrometer reading take a temperature reading as well because your hydrometer reading will be slightly off due to temperature, write this number down in your record book. If there are bubbles around your hydrometer, do not blow them away since you might accidentally spit into your beer, try spinning it instead. Take two readings... specific gravity and potential alcohol. Now pour your yeast into your wort, this is known as pitching your yeast.
# 7 Put your lid on your primary fermenter and seal it. Put water in your airlock (about halfway up the inside tube of the 3 piece kind) and put it in the lid hole. Note that if your lid has a grommet seal, be careful not to push the grommet through and into your beer. Put your fermenter in a nice cool, quiet, dark, even temperature place i.e.. not on your sun porch, by the dog house, or next to the oven.
# 8 When the bubbling activity has slowed down, typically in about 3 or 4 days, it is time to put it in the secondary fermenter. note that from here on out, you must not splash or foam your beer if you want beer that doesn’t taste awful. Put your primary fermenter on the counter and your carboy (glass jug) on the floor. Put the siphon hose on the racking tube (do not get the racking tube confused with bottle filler). Put the bucket clip on the primary and fill the siphon hose and tube full of water directly from the faucet by sticking the hose end into running water until water runs out the end of the racking tube, then squeeze the end of the hose shut. Stick the racking tube into the beer and then let the other end flow into the sink until beer comes out. Snap the racking tube into the bucket clip and push the tube to the bottom of the primary. Let the other end flow beer into the carboy, but down the side and not pouring into the middle.
Put your airlock in your stopper and put it in the carboy
How long your beer takes from here relies on a variety of different things. How much fermentables are used, what the temperature is, what kind of yeast was used, etc… It could be 3 days or it could be 4 weeks. When the beer no longer has a milky consistancy to it and has stopped bubbling it is time to bottle it.
Now you are ready to bottle. Siphon it out of the carboy and put it into the bottling bucket. Take your second hydrometer reading. Mix your priming sugar with about a cup of water, boil it, and pour it into your beer in the bucket and stir.. Put the hose on the spigot and the other end on the bottle filler. Open the spigot and beer will flow when you push the bottle filler down in the bottle. Fill the bottle to the top because the volume of the tube will give you the correct head space. Never cap a half empty bottle. Cap all the rest and set aside.
When is your beer ready to drink?
It may be carbonated in as little as 1 week however, it's your beer, you get to decide when it is best to drink. The general rule is, the higher the alcohol, the longer the wait--up to 2 months, if you prefer. Once it is ready, pour a tall one into your personalized beer glass or personalized beer mug and enjoy.