Beginner’s guide on how to make beer at home

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At the very least, a hobby should be enjoyable – something fun that you enjoy doing when you have free time. But hobbies are usually even more rewarding when they’re productive. From cooking to quilting, candle making to gardening, if your hobby produces a product you can use, the activity can be especially motivating. Brewing your own beer at home or delving into the world of home brewing is a surprisingly accessible hobby that you can get really good at with a little practice and tinkering.

If you learn how to make your own beer at home, you can tailor your brews to your exact personal tastes, whether you’re a fan of a hoppy IPA, a light lager, or a dark stout. Homebrewing can also potentially save you money — and last-minute errands at the liquor store if you realize you’re out of beer and want to enjoy it while watching the game. It can also allow you to be part chef, part scientist, and rely on creative but mathematical leanings, and many people find that while it may seem daunting at first, learning to brew beer at home is a fun hobby that they end up hanging onto and perfecting for years. Ready to roll up your sleeves and start fermenting? Keep reading to learn how to make beer at home.

Basics of making beer at home

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Home brewing is a lot like cooking in that there is a basic recipe to follow, but it can be adapted and modified to produce different types of beer. However, unlike cooking – which usually only takes a few hours from start to finish – making beer takes about a month from the initial stages until you can enjoy the final product. That said, they say good things are worth the wait.

The easiest way to venture into home brewing is to buy a beer brewing kit, which will contain all the equipment, instructions, and ingredients needed to make beer at home. There are also countertop home brewers if you want to get more fancy with your brewing. However, you can also get the specialized equipment and ingredients you need from an online home brewing retailer.

Home Brewing Methods

There are three main methods for brewing your own beer. Brewing extracts is the easiest, so probably the best place to start.

  • Brewing extract: Extract brewing is the easiest method because hops are usually incorporated into the malt extract, reducing the ingredients needed for brewer’s yeast, corn sugar and malt extract as syrup or powder. Typically, malt extract is boiled in 2-3 gallons of water and then cooled. Water and brewer’s yeast are added to bring the total volume to five gallons, then the beer wort (as it was called in those days) is left to ferment.
  • Partial mash brew: Special grains, such as malted barley grains, are macerated and added before the malt extract.
  • All grain brewing: It is the most complex brewing method because no malt extract is used. Instead, all fermentable sugars are derived from malted barley grains (or other cereals), not malt extract. Additional specialized equipment is required.

Ingredients for making beer at home

The basic beer recipe includes four essential ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast.

The water

North Mountain Supply - PCT-2oz Campden Tablets on a white background.

Tap water may be fine for beginners, but as you perfect your home brew you’ll probably start to adjust water alkalinity and hardness as this affects fermentation, smoothness and profile. of flavor. However, even if you only use tap water, it is important to remove chlorine from the water. This can be done easily by adding a Campden tablet to water. One tablet should be enough to dechlorinate 5 to 20 gallons of water.

Malt/cereals

Briess malt dry extract on white background.

Homebrewers can purchase malt as a syrup or extract powder (for easier extract brewing) or as a cereal grain (usually barley). The malt is what gives a beer its characteristic body, color, roasted flavor and slight sweetness.

Hop

Home Brew Ohio Us Centennial 1 Lb.  Hop pellets for making beer at home on a white background.

Hops are a climbing plant that give beer its pungent, bitter taste and aroma. Making beer at home usually involves adding bitter hops or finishing hops, unless the hops are already incorporated into the malt extract product, in which case you won’t need any. add more. Bitter hops impart bitterness and are added at the beginning of the boiling process, while finishing hops impart mostly aromatics and are simply added towards the end so that it does not boil.

Beer yeast

North Mountain Supply Beer/Ale Yeast on a white background.

These active microorganisms are what actually ferment the sugars in the brew and convert them to alcohol and carbon dioxide, which is why beer is fizzy. There are different types of yeast used for ales compared to lagers. The former ferment faster, at warmer temperatures and at the top of the fermentation vessel, while the latter take longer to ferment, prefer cooler temperatures and ferment at the bottom of the tank.

Equipment for making beer at home

As mentioned, it’s certainly easier to buy an all-inclusive home brewing kit, but if you want to go the piecemeal route, you’ll need the following equipment to brew beer at home:

  • Brew pot: As a general rule, 20 quarts is good, or enough to hold about 3 gallons.
  • Stainless steel mixing spoon: Used to stir beer wort.
  • Disinfectant : Used to sanitize all tools and equipment that come into contact with beer wort after it has cooled.
  • Thermometer: Used to check beer wort temperature.
  • Hydrometer: Like a thermometer, a hydrometer is a testing instrument. It lets you know when it’s time to bottle the beer, the state of fermentation and the alcohol content.
  • Primary fermentation tank: If you plan on making a five-gallon batch, you’ll want at least a six-gallon tank to have enough room for lathering.
  • Secondary fermentation tank: Since the beer is finished in this container, get one the same size as the batch you intend to make. It should have an airlock.
  • Siphon/Rack Cane: Used to siphon beer out of the secondary fermentation vessel.
  • Bottling bucket: You can use the main fermentation vessel as long as it has a tap at the bottom as a hose must be attached for the beer to be transferred into bottles.
  • Beer bottles: A five-gallon batch requires 53 12-ounce bottles of beer. Bottles must have untwisted bottle caps.
  • Bottle brush: Used to clean old beer bottles.
  • Bottle capper and bottle caps: A bottle capper is a tool that crimps the caps onto the bottle.

How to brew beer at home

Bottle of beer on a kitchen counter.
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Once you have the equipment and ingredients, you are ready to start brewing your first batch of beer. There are tons of published recipes to test and experiment with, and as you become more comfortable and experienced, you can customize them or create your own from scratch.

The basic steps involved in the extract brewing method are as follows:

  1. Using a brew cleaner, sanitize all equipment.
  2. Dechlorinate and heat about 3 gallons of water until just below boiling and remove from heat.
  3. Add the malt extract and stir until completely dissolved.
  4. Boil the wort.
  5. Once boiling, add your hops if the malt extract does not contain any.
  6. After boiling for a few minutes, remove from heat, stir thoroughly, and place the jar in an ice bath in your sink.
  7. Once your beer wort is at around 90°F, use a funnel or pour it carefully into your main fermenter, leaving the hops if added separately.
  8. Add ddechlorinated water until the total volume is five gallons.
  9. Stir vigorously with your mixing spoon.
  10. When the temperature and hydrometer readings are optimal for the brewer’s yeast you are using, add the yeast according to the package directions.
  11. Stir well with your mixing spoon.
  12. Seal the fermentation vessel with the airlock attached and filled with clean water.
  13. Fermentation in a dark space at controlled temperature. Bubbles should begin to appear in the airlock after approximately 24 hours.
  14. Leave alone. Fermentation will take 1-2 weeks, depending on the recipe, yeast, beer you are making, final gravity and ABV you are looking for.
  15. Siphon the fermented beer into your bottling bucket and then into your sanitized bottles.
  16. Close the bottles with your capper.

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