A Local Homebrewer And Supply Shop Owner Share Tips To Master Both A Basic Or Elevated Brew
Its easy to homebrew a basic beer with a kit. But as you gain more confidence, and gear from local suppliers, you can branch out into more experimental styles and flavors.
Making beer, at first, is as easy as boxed mac and cheese, albeit with more gear and sanitation. You boil grain to get the sugar out, add hops, cool, add yeast, let it ferment, and in as little as two weeks youll have beer.
Some first-time homebrewers are satisfied with a straightforward, tasty beer. But there are also more nuanced ways to homebrew. For those who go down the homebrewing rabbit hole, more complicated flavor profiles and techniques get interesting, particularly with grain types, hops, and additions like fruit. As with cooking, theres endless room for experimentation.
Its An Easy Way To Start All
The beauty with small-batch brewing is that you can get going with all-grain from the beginning and build your confidence quickly. Its so easy. Really easy. Ive likened to telling friends that if they can bring water to boil or make chicken stock, they can make beer. And with small batch brewing, the concept is spot on. You can brew with the stock pot you already own.
Create Your Own Yeast Starter
When I ask experienced homebrewers for the top things theyve done to make their beer better, one of the most commom answers I hear is, I now pay close attention to the yeast and always make a strong starter.
Whether you buy a tube of yeast, a smack pack, or a package of dry yeast, creating a yeast starter is a phenomenal way to make sure that your fermentation cycle gets off to a great start. It takes only about 20 minutes to do and dramatically improves your chances of getting a strong, active primary fermentation phase. This also reduces your chances for contamination since the conversion of sugars to alcohol happens more rapidly when the yeast are healthy and plentiful. Learn more about making a yeast starter.
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Supplies + 2 General Parts To Beer Making
All these supplies are readily available in kits that you can get from any local homebrew store , . You can buy the things piecemeal, but the price wouldnt be much different. The only things in the list below that you often wont find in a kit are the brew kettle, thermometer, and hydrometer.
Your brewing can generally be broken down into two primary steps: brewing and bottling. Brewing takes place on the stovetop in a big kettle, and its then placed into a 5-gallon bucket to let the yeast do its thing and turn your liquid into an alcoholic beverage over the course of a week or two. The next step is bottling. Here you transfer your beer into a bottling bucket , fill 12 oz bottles with the stuff, and then let that sit for a couple weeks to carbonate .
In that light, Ive broken supplies, and tips, into separate sections.
Homebrewing: Hobby Lifestyle Obsession
Northern Brewer is on a mission to create something worth sharing, and thats why our home brew kits and beer brewing equipment is designed by homebrewers, for home brewers. Only quality beer making kits here.
Northern Brewer has been in the thick of beer making since 1993, and we pride ourselves on being experts of all things home brewing. Above all else, our team of homebrewers wants to make sure every person who uses one of our home beer brewing kits has an amazing first brew day. Our instructions are easy to follow, but just in case, every beer recipe kit is backed by our famous no-questions-asked guarantee. So what are you waiting for? Weve got your batch!
Each beer making starter kit includes the specialized brewing equipment you’ll need to brew your own beer at home and your choice of one of our most popular beer recipe kits with ingredients for your first batch!
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Introduction: How To Brew Beer
This is a step by step guide to brew beer from scratch using the raw ingredients. The method explained here is a “full mash” meaning that the extract is made from crushed malted grain and not pre-prepared extract, which can be bought in a tin.Total preparation time until ready to drink is approx 3 weeks.
Wort Chillers Are Worth It
One of the best ways to reduce the likelihood of your beer getting contaminated is to chill the wort as fast as possible, dropping the temperature from that dangerous range that evil bacteria just love. Many beginning homebrewers accomplish this by submerging the brew kettle in an ice bath in either a large tub or the bathtub. Depending on how many bags of ice you purchased , this can take anywhere from 40 minutes to well over an hour.
You can save a ton of time, eliminate hassle, and reduce the risk of contamination by purchasing a wort chiller. These come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common is a coiled immersion chiller. Immersion chillers usually cost $50$70 and can typically chill 5 gallons of wort in 20 minutes or less. You simply hook a cold-water source up to the immersion chiller, add the chiller to your kettle for the last 10 minutes of your boil to sanitize it, and then turn on the water after youve removed your kettle from the heat source. The chiller does the rest, and is surprisingly easy to clean when youre finished chilling your wort. Learn more about ways to cool your wort,different wort chillers, and how to make your own wort chiller.
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How To Sanitize Home Brew Equipment
Cleanliness is next to Godliness when it comes to home brew make sure all your equipment is scrupulously clean before you start or no matter what you do throughout the brew it will already be at risk of going wrong.
Do not use chlorinated products to sterilise your equipment or you risk chlorophenolic taints in your beer.
Assess Your Ingredient Kit And Know Your Recipe
Heres the stout kit I used. It has liquid malt extract , dry malt extract , grains, maltodextrin, and 2 packets of hops.
Before you get to brew day, crack open your ingredient kit and instructions and make sure you understand everything before diving in to cooking it all up. The ingredients youll generally see:
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Transfer The Beer To The Bottling Bucket
A General Outline Of Beer
As noted above, every kit is unique. While the base ingredients are all the same malt extract, hops, sometimes grains and maltodextrin the amounts, techniques, order of steps, etc. are not standardized. So below Ill walk you through a general outline of how things go both on brew day and bottling day, but again, follow the directions that come with your kit. Those will be more helpful for your specific batch.
Plan on devoting 3-4 hours of your time on brew day, and then a week or two later, another 2-3 hours for bottling.
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Why Beginners Should Start Homebrewing With A Kit
There are a few tiers of brewing that differentiate the occasional brewer from the true hobbyist. Using kits is the starter tier. You have everything provided for you in a handy-dandy box malt extract, yeast, hops, even bottle caps. Youre also provided a step-by-step recipe that makes it pretty darn easy to achieve a drinkable and enjoyable bottle of beer.
As skills, tastes, and budget increase, a homebrewer can work their way up and produce higher-quality beers. Youll end up creating your own recipes, mashing your own grains, and generally having more control over the process. With beer from a kit, youre basically combining ingredients on the stove in a certain order, maintaining cleanliness, and ensuring that directions are followed. To be honest, theres not much creativity involved.
But, thats okay at first. When I asked Aaron Holstad and Branden Miller of Black Shirt Brewing about which type of homebrewing the beginner should pursue, they unequivocally said one should go with kits unless theyre ready to invest more money and time into their hobby and become true amateur at-home brewers.
The Internet Is Your Friend
While a good book is an invaluable reference, there will be a time you come across something that flummoxes you. It’s very unlikely you will be the first, and just as unlikely someone else hasnt discussed it. From the magisterial, if dense, How To Brew by John Palmer to the uncountable forums and blogs discussing minutiae, such as Brewer’s Friend, therell be something to help.
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Let The Fermentation Begin
Within 72 hours, you should start to see bubbles coming up into the air lock to reassure you that the yeast is doing its job. The fermenter should remain untouched for about 20 to 25 days.
If your fermenter has an sight glass equipped to it, you will see the foam, or kraeusen, forming at the top.
When this occurs and the timing seems appropriate, take another reading with the hydrometer to verify the process is complete. The FG should be about 20%-25% of the OG. Use the calculator from the first measurement to ensure accuracy.
Equipment To Make Beer At Home
Credit: Syda Productions Shutterstock
Now you’ve got the ingredients, here’s a list of household items you’ll need to make your own beer. Again, most of these should be included in homebrewing beer kits .
- Large pan
- Muslin cloth
- Large bucket
- Sterilised siphoning tube
- 30 to 40 glass bottles and caps or a large jug.
If you’re looking to save even more money on your brewing then you can always reuse old bottles just make sure to sterilise them first!
Old beer bottles with a new capper work a treat, or you can even use screw-top wine bottles if you use a bit less sugar than is advised in the recipe .
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Is Secondary Fermentation Necessary
No. Secondary fermentation is not necessary, but provides a lot of benefits when you make beer at home. It is the stage in which the beer can further clarify and become more polished.
However, if executed incorrectly, it can also serve as an opportunity to introduce infection and other factors that may have a negative effect on your brew. If executed correctly, secondary fermentation will result in a better looking and better tasting product. If you choose to skip secondary fermentation, simply allow the beer to ferment for 2-3 weeks in the primary fermenter.
Look After Your Ingredients
Invest in some airtight plastic containers. Malt, kept dry and cool, should be fine for six months, but get rid of it after that youre only going to get stale flavours if you use stale malt. Likewise, dried yeast will keep, if sealed and chilled, but it will lose potency and reliability. Hops do not improve with age. Be doubtful of any before last years harvest, however cheap.
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Three: Get The Beer Into The Bottle
After about seven to 28 days of fermentation, your yeast will have finished its work. To make sure its done, get a hydrometer and take a couple readings several days apart, once you see airlock bubbling grind to a halt. If both readings are the same, youll know its time to package your beer. Most new brewers stick to bottling, which makes sense: Its a lot cheaper than setting up a kegging system.
To bottle beer, you need five things: bottles , caps, a capper, transfer tubing, and a bottling wand. If you dont follow my advice above about getting a fermenter with a ball valve, youll also need an auto siphon to transfer your beer out of the fermenter. Bear in mind that you can reuse most commercial beer bottles if you clean and sanitize them properly, though some types of bottles dont work well with wing cappers like the one linked above.
The vast majority of homebrewers Ive met transfer their finished beer to a bottling bucket before filling their bottles. In the bucket they add a sugar solution, which gives the yeast the fuel it needs to carbonate each bottle. I bypass all of this and bottle directly from the fermenter, using a priming calculator to determine the right amount of table sugar to add to each bottle. The upside of this approach is that it minimizes oxidation, and it also means you need one less plastic bucket in the garage.
You Can Afford To Experiment
It will happen. One day, you will brew a bad batch of beer. Weve all done it. Every time it happens, its a learning moment. But that doesnt make it any less painful when you see your hard work being poured down a drain! You can avoid tears before bedtime with small batch brewing though. If youre brewing more often, and in smaller quantities, the pain will be minimal. This is obviously good for two reasons:
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Equipment You Need To Make Your Own Beer
You may know someone who has converted his or her entire basement or garage into what practically looks like a professional brewery, full of shiny fermentation tanks and kegs, welded pipework, washing stations, and fridges with tap handles always pouring out beautiful heady beer. But rest assured there is no need to invest a fortune to get started making your own beer. The easiest way to go is to just buy a beer making kit. You can always add fancier brewing gadgets and fermentation equipment after youve brewed for a while and decided its something you love .
Read Watch And Listen
If youve made it to this article, youre probably committed to learning and improving your brew. Continuous learning about homebrewing is imperative to grow as a homebrewer. Best practices for homebrewing evolve rapidly. Technology, ingredients, and changing tastes drive innovation in the homebrewing world.
The internet is the best resource for updated brewing knowledge. Discussion forums and social media sites, like Reddit and Facebook groups, offer advice and techniques. Plus, homebrewers are always super eager to share knowledge and are welcoming to all questions.
Brewing podcasts and YouTube channels also offer endless content on homebrewing to learn and get inspired.
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How To Make Your Own Beer
So youve decided to make your own beer at home. Congratulations! Youre about to engage in a wondrous and rewarding task almost as old as humanity itself. But theres no reason to be intimidated. Although people have been brewing beer for millennia, the basic process has remained much the same through the ages. This article will discuss what the basics of how to brew beer, home brewing equipment you need to get started as well as walk you through the basic steps of how to brew an American amber bock. Its time, as homebrewing godfather Charlie Papazian says, to Relax, dont worry, have a homebrew.
What Are They Brewed Beer Types
The word craft has a positive connotation. Its used to describe goods that are made with quality in mind and by people who care about their work. Brewers use craft to describe their beer, which is made from traditional ingredients and processes. Craft beer is anything but mass produced or industrial, so its important for you to remember what the term means before you buy a particular beer.
Breweries make many different types of beers with varying tastes, strengths, colors, etc., so its worth exploring the different options available to find one that suits your individual tastes!
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