The Basics of Home Beer Brewing

Some people love beer. They have become beer connoisseurs and want to make their own beer. We all have to start somewhere to get beer brewing experience. You may find that your first batch of home brew did not turn out as good as you imagined. Use your beer tasting techniques to understand what you need to do to get the perfect beer. Many beer brewing starter kits can help create a good taste of beer.

The basics of home brewing.

Vocabulary used in home brewing

Wort (pronounced “vert” German; wert, a combo of English and German) – The sweet liquid from the soaked mixture of warm water and ground malt grains, before fermentation with yeast.

Enzymes – Proteins in malt barley that cause a chemical reaction that speeds up the fermenting process.

Fermentation – This is the desired chemical reaction in which the sugars in the wort are consumed by the yeast – this is what gives the beer its alcohol.

Bottle-Conditioning – Many breweries use this technique. The bottle is used as the second fermenting process, which allows carbonation of the liquid. It may include more yeast or sugars.

Top-Fermenting yeast – The yeast saturates the liquid and ferments quickly at higher temperatures. It gives the beer a sweeter, fruitier taste. Ales use top-fermenting yeasts.

Bottom-Fermenting Yeast – It is a slow fermenting yeast made at lower temperatures. Lagers and stouts are made from the bottom-fermenting yeast. It brings out the taste in the hops.

Ingredients for a basic beer recipe

Malt Extract – This ingredient is given first because it is what activates the enzymes that are used in the brewing. The good news is that you can buy it prepackaged from a home brew store or from the internet. This is where you get the flavor of your beer.

Hops – This gives the beer its bitterness (to counteract the sweetness of the malt), aroma and produces a different flavor in the malt.

Yeast – Use Brewers yeast. Do Not Use baking yeast.

Water – A personal hint to give your brew a better taste. Use filtered or bottled water. Tap water usually has fortified features, such as fluoride and chlorine which does not brew well in your beer.

Sugar (Dextrose or Glucose – the same sugar, different names) – Corn syrup. This helps carbonate beer.  Refined sugar (frucose) should not be used. It makes the brew taste like cider.

Equipment – Please note that you can purchase the equipment from a home-brew store or save a bit of money by using many inexpensive household utensils.

Brewpot – Start with a 5-gallon stainless steel pot. This where your beer begins. You will bring your mixture of malt extract, water and hops to a boil.

Fermenter – It is also called a carboy. It is the container that is used to ferment the beer.

Funnel and Strainer – This is used to transfer the brewpot contents into the fermenter.

Siphon Hose – Transfers the beer from the fermenter to the beer bottles.’

Airlock and Stopper – This keeps the outside air from getting inside the fermenter. It also allows the carbon dioxide to escape. You will probably find articles that tell you how to make your own airlock and stopper. It is easier to buy it and it does not cost very much – a dollar or two at the most.

Thermometer – A stick on thermometer is recommended. You need to take the temperature during the different stages of brewing. A stick-on thermometer avoids putting it into the mixture.

Bottling Bucket – This is to hold the finished beer mixture before bottle it. Some come with a spigot, which makes it easier to transfer the beer into bottles.

Beer Bottles and Capper – Used to pack and store your finished beer.

You are now ready to begin the process of making your own beer.

The first thing you should do is pick the style of beer you like: pilsner (a light, easy drinking beer); Stout (rich, dark beer); Pale Ale (a hoppy, bitter beer). From there, you can gather your ingredients and recipes.

Next, purchase the ingredients and equipment.- This is where the starter kit is handy. It will contain all the ingredients for your type of beer.

After you assemble all your equipment, you will need to sanitize it before use. Bacteria will ruin beer if you do not take care. Good sanitizing products are chlorine, iodine and bleach. *abrasive cleansers (i.e., Comet) should never be used since they tend to scratch the surfaces.

Clean all the equipment at one time (bathtub, or deep sink will work). Mix the sanitizing solution with cold water and soak (5-10 minutes for chlorine or iodine, and 30 minutes for bleach). Rinse all equipment thoroughly and store them in a clean, dustless area.

Your equipment is clean, you have gathered you ingredients together, and are now ready to brew. The steps:

1. Heating the Wort: Put 3 gallons of water into the brew pot and bring pot to a boil. At the same time, put 2 gallons of water into your fermenter.

2. After the water comes to a boil, remove from heat, and add the malt extract. Stir, until the malt is fully dissolved.

3. Put the pot back on the stove and bring it back to boiling, stirring occasionally.

4. Boil the wort for 10-20 minutes – watch it closely. The proteins in the wort make a lot of foam. If it overboils, you will have a horrible, sticky mess to clean up.

5. When the foam subsides and the protein clumps sink back into the pot, the mixture is ready for the next step.

6. Add the hops and stir gently. Be prepared that it may overflow with the addition of the hops. Correct the flame accordingly.

7. Boil for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

The wort needs to be cooled quickly. In the bathtub or deep sink, add cold water. Place the pot of wort into the cold bath. Your mixture is cool enough when you can touch the pot without getting burned.

Fermenting your beer.

a. Attach the strainer and funnel to the top of your fermenter container and pour the cooled mixture into the fermenter.

b. Be sure that the wort is at room temperature before adding the yeast. Use a thermometer.

c. Pour the yeast into the fermenter Stir gently.

d. Place the airlock and stopper over the top of the fermenter. Seal tightly.

e. Place the fermenter in a cool, dark place. Allow it to ferment for seven to ten days. There are two ways to tell if it is fermented. You can tell by the bubbles escaping from the airlock – if less than one bubble escapes per minute, it is finished. The second way is to check whether the yeast has sunk to the bottom. If it has and the brew is clear, it is ready.

Although you are really excited and can hardly wait to taste it, you still have to prime and bottle it. To prime it, you will need to add sugar to the mixture before bottling and capping it.

*Combine 3/4 cup of corn sugar and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil.

*Boil the water for 15 minutes or until the sugar dissolves.

*Add to the bottling bucket.

*Siphon the contents of the fermenter into the bottling bucket. Keep the sediment from going into the bottling bucket.

*Stir the fermented mixture with the priming mixture.

*Transfer the mixture into the bottles and cap immediately.

*Store the bottles in a warm place (70-80 degrees), for a week. Check the beer then. If ready, store in a cooler place.

Invite your friends to share your brew and enjoy. Remember, if your beer is not as good as you wanted; it is still better than store beers.