Brewing beer at home is easy and cost-effective. In fact, you will save more money making your own beer than consuming it commercially. Additionally, the whole process of brewing the drink can be so satisfying and therapeutic. You can spend your weekend afternoons brewing while having some alone time to think about what’s going on in your life.
What Ingredients Do I Need?
The ingredients required to brew beer are very easy to find. Most of them are available at grocery stores and major online retailers like Amazon.
The pieces of equipment you need are:
A fermenter or Air Lock
Bottle cleaning brush
Below is a breakdown of the commonly used ingredients and the role they play.
Malt extract makes brewing exceptional beer feel effortless. It’s also a pretty easy ingredient to use, meaning both newbies and experienced brewers can utilize it with ease. The extracts are available in different flavors; stout, light, and dark. You can also buy it in a liquid form known as LME or dry DME form.
Note that the form you choose may also affect your recipe. Check your recipe beforehand and select the appropriate type of extract to avoid unnecessary losses.
Some malts may come with yeast included in the package. In other cases, you will have to buy it separately.
Yeast plays a crucial role in producing alcohol and CO2 out of malt sugars. This explains the popular saying, “Brewers only make the wort, yeast makes the beer”.
Like malt extracts, yeast is available in dry and liquid forms. The dry alternative is easy to prepare and has a long shelf life. Meanwhile, liquid yeast has more varieties and may be of better quality, but it has a significantly shorter shelf life. Preparing liquid yeast can also be hectic.
Some malt extract recipes do not use grains. However, adding some grains to your brew can increase the beer’s flavor significantly.
The grains must be crushed before they’re used. You could do this at home if you have a miller or any other creative method of doing so or have them milled for you at the homebrew shop. Whatever the case, make sure the crushed grains are used as soon as possible. Otherwise, keep them uncrushed for longer shelf life.
This ingredient comes from the Humulus Lupulus plant. It is used in two ways. First, we have the bittering hops added when boiling the beer to give the drink its distinctive bitterness. The second type is popularly called aromatic hops, which are used towards the end of the boil. As the name suggests, they add aroma to the beer.
Hops come in different qualities and bitterness. You’ll probably have to experiment with a variety of hops to find your favorite type.
90 to 95% of beer is water. Therefore, the quality of water used is crucial in determining the final quality of your beer. Most people prefer moderately hard water with medium to low alkalinity. Others use clean tap water without making any adjustments. You are free to experiment with both and determine which one is better for you.
You should know that the recipe you choose will directly impact the type of ingredients needed. The professionals behind Craft a Brew recommend using a kit that contains all the things you need to brew your own beer at home. But if you decide to purchase the ingredients separately, make sure you follow the recipe. This is particularly important if you are an inexperienced brewer.
How To Make Beer At Home
Step 1: Sanitize
The role of proper sanitation during brewing beer at home cannot be overstated. Not only does it affect the quality of the final product, but it may also influence its safety.
Make sure to sanitize everything you’ll use, including the pair of scissors that will cut the yeast pack. Pay even more attention to the items you’ll be using after the beer is boiled.
There are different ways of sanitizing the materials. You can use household cleaning products. These are cheaper and more convenient, but you’ll need to be thorough with the process to ensure no soap or bleach is left behind. Alternatively, purchase a no-rinse acid sanitizer. This will cost more, but it’s easier to use, plus it doesn’t leave any after-taste.
Step 2: Brew
Now, this is where things start getting interesting. With your ingredients in place and your equipment cleaned and ready, pick your recipe and start brewing. While recipes may vary slightly, most of the basic steps remain the same.
Start by adding water to the brewing kettle. For this example, we will use 2.5 gallons of water in a 5-gallon kettle.
Heat the water and steep your grains until the water is around 170-degrees. This should take 20 minutes or so. Take out the grains and let the water drip into the kettle. Do not squeeze the grain bag to make the water drip faster! This can push the tannins out of the bag, which would affect the beer’s flavor.
Bring your kettle to a rolling boil, then remove it from the heat. Add your malt extracts and wait for them to dissolve, and start boiling the kettle once more.
This is the time to add your hops in intervals. The intervals will depend on the specific recipe you’re using.
Finally, you have your wort, and the first thing you need to do is cool it down. This can be done through an ice bath, i.e., immerse the pot containing the wort in a sink full of ice water or use a chiller to run cold water through your wort and out to the sink. A wort chiller is an extra investment, but it’s well worth it.
Once the cooling is done, go ahead and ferment the wort. Pour the wort into the fermenter and add some water until you reach the 5-gallons level.
Shake the wort inside the kettle to increase aeration, and then add your yeast. If you’re using dry yeast, pour it directly into the fermenter. Liquid yeast requires preparation before use (instructions are usually included in the package).
Seal the fermenter and keep it in a cool dark place. Fermentation typically takes two weeks, but the duration may vary slightly from one recipe to another.
Step 3: Bottle
Clean the bottling bucket, hose, bottles, bottle filler, and bottle caps. Once you’re done, boil the priming sugar in water (16 ounces), cool it down, and add it to the bottling bucket.
Transfer the beer to the bucket with a siphon. Try to leave the sediments in the fermenter. Use the bottle filler and hose to fill your bottles with the beer and finish up by capping them. Store the filled and capped bottles at room temperature for the beer to carbonate. This can take about two weeks.
That’s it! Your beer is finally ready. You can enjoy the drink as is or refrigerate it. Thanks to this process and the tips stated above, you can have your own beer at home anytime you want. Doing so will help you have a better drinking experience down the road.