Ready, Set, Brew! Everything You Need to Know to Start Brewing Your Own Beer at Home
With the meteoric rise in craft beer popularity in the U.S, it's no surprise that more and more people are trying their hand at home brewing. The ability to tailor a brew to one's own taste and style coupled with the fact that brewing beer is just plain fun, make this an up and coming favorite pastime all over the country. And while there is no end to the unique flavors and styles a creative home brewer can come up with, there are some solid guidelines any prospective home brewer should keep in mind.
Before you get started, there is some basic equipment you'll need:
- Heat source capable of boiling up to three gallons at a time
- A large stainless steel pot (2-5 gallons)
- Long handled stainless steel spoon (long enough to reach the bottom of the pot)
- Glass measuring cup
- Stainless steel strainer
- High-temperature stainless steel thermometer
- Cleanser (unscented) for equipment
- Sanitizer (a no-rinse sanitizer is recommended)
- Fermentation vessel (many home brewers choose either a 5 gallon plastic bucket or glass jugs known as "carboys")
- Airlock device and bung
- Bottle filler
- Bottle brush
- Empty bottles or growlers
- Bottle caps and capper
If you aren't familiar with some of these items, keep in mind that many brew suppliers sell all-inclusive kits specially designed for first time home brewers.
Now that you have your equipment, let's discuss ingredients. After all, it's the ingredients we use that give each brew it's distinctive taste.
- Malt extract-this is the concentrated sugar that is consumed by brewer’s yeast, producing alcohol and CO2 (AKA "fermentation)
- Hops-the green flower that determines the bitterness and aroma of many beers; available in hundreds of strains, each with different taste/aroma profiles
- Yeast-Brewer's yeast, or saccharomyces, is the ingredient a live ingredient that digests the malt extract to produce alcohol and CO2 ; available in liquid or powder
- Water- water makes up the large part of beer by volume, so be sure you're using the cleanest water possible; consider distilled bottle water
- Start by thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing all of your equipment, and remember that any contaminants will affect the flavor and quality of your final product
- Bring a gallon of water to boil in your stainless steel pot
- Add malt extract and stir until dissolved
- Add hops
- Boil for 30 minutes to create "wort" (the unfermented liquid that will eventually become your beer)
- Fill your fermentation vessel(s) 1/2 way with cold water, then top off with wort
- Allow mix to sit until temperature reaches 70-75 degrees F
- Add yeast
- Seal fermentation vessel with airlock and bung
- Vigorously shake your fermentation vessel to oxygenate the yeast
- Place fermentation vessel in a cool (not cold) location and leave to ferment for one to two weeks
Keep in mind that these are basic brewing instructions. There are hundreds of different recipes, combinations of flavors, botanicals, fruit extracts, etc that can be added to create a distinct flavor. Once you master the basics you can begin exploring and playing with these different flavors.
Your local brew supply store is a great place to get started assembling your equipment and purchasing ingredients. Don't be afraid to ask questions! And for more information on brewing your own beer at home, please contact us.