I've been brewing for about three years now. In that time I've spent a lot of time researching and practicing the craft. It's a great hobby that you can get into fairly cheaply. In the past, to start brewing you needed a very large pot, bulky/expensive fermenters, and a ton of random tools and supplies. At the bare minimum the kit would cost $100 and you would need to find your own bottles (personally I loved having 'bottle making' parties). It was no small undertaking.
Today you can get started with everything you need to brew great beer for less than $50! The system I'm recommending is a Mr. Beer Premium Edition Home Microbrewery System. The kit comes with all you need including a starter recipe, west coast pale ale, that will get you rolling. I really like the Mr. Beer kits because they include everything you need to brew and they make the process really simple. For this guide I recommend getting the premium kit because it includes all the bottles you need. I'll assume that you are using the premium kit in the guide.
Keep reading and I'll show you the process so you can see how easy it is to make your own beer!
Things You Will Need
Provided In The Kit:
- Brew Keg and Lid
- Tap, Washer and Nut
- Hopped Malt Extract (HME)
- Dry Brewing Yeast (under lid of HME)
- Plastic Bottles and Bottle Caps
- One-Step Sanitizing Cleanser
Provided By You:
- 1-Gallon Container (for mixing sanitizer)
- 1 clean large pot (3-Quart or larger)
- Metal Spoon or Whisk (NO WOOD OR PLASTIC)
- Can Opener
- Measuring Cup/Spoons
- Bowl or Plate
- Sugar (white granulated)
Fill your keg fermenter with water and add half of the one step sanitizer. Gently shake and swirl the fermenter so that the sanitizer is mixed into the water and the entire interior of the fermenter gets wet. Also drain some of the water from the fermenter using the tap to sanitize the inside of the tap. Sanitization is important because a beer can become infected with bad yeast or bacteria which will make the final product taste off (infected beer will never make you sick so you don't need to worry about that).
Next add all your utensils to the keg so they can be sanitized as well. Soak them for 10 minutes. Before removing your utensils be sure to wash your hands (don't dry them, just shake off excess water to prevent infection). Put all the utensils on the bowl or plate. Always keep your utensils on the sanitized bowl/plate until you are completely done using them (infection again, fun fact: the scientific field of microbiology started in breweries). Drain the fermenter.
Fill the fermenter to the 4 quart mark with cold water (hot water can contain impurities from your how water heater). Take the yeast packet from under the lid of the malt extract and place the malt extract in a hot water bath to make the extract easier to pour.
Use your sanitized measuring cup measure out 4 cups of water from the fermenter into your large pot. Start stirring the water and slowly add the booster making sure to avoid clumping. Stir until the booster is dissolved. Next bring the pot to a boil and then take the pot off the heat.
While stirring the water pour the malt extract into the pot. When full mixed this is called wort (pronounced wurt). Pour the wort into the keg and bring the volume to 8.5 quarts by adding more cold water (remember to use sanitized utensils or add directly to the keg). Mix the wurt well. This is unfermented beer!
If you have a sanitized measuring spoon you can taste the wurt to get an idea of what your final beer will taste like. The flavor will change a LOT during fermentation so it will take a few brews before you can accurately predict what the final beer will taste like. Now sprinkle the yeast onto the surface of the wort and let sit for 5 minutes to activate. Then screw on the lid of the fermenter.
At this point all you can do is give the yeast a good environment and let them do all the work. Here are some tips to have a good fermentation:
- Place the fermenter in the dark.
- Keep the temperature even, 68Â° F (20Â° C) is best. (high temperatures will produce off-flavors).
- Ferment for 14 days (this allows the yeast to do all their main work and clean up some off-flavors that may have been produced).
- Do not disturb the fermenter during fermentation.
Move your fermenter to the edge of a counter where you can fill your bottles. It's a good idea to let the fermenter sit for about 20 minutes after moving it so the sediment can settle. Using your 1 gal. container make 1 gal of sanitizer solution by mixing the rest of your One Step packet with warm water. Pour this solution into your Mr. Beer bottles filling halfway. Screw on the caps and shake vigorously, then let sit for 10 minutes.
Drain your bottles and add 2.5 teaspoons of sugar to each bottle. Fill the bottles from the tap to about 2.5 inches from the top. When filling the bottles hold them at an angle to reduce oxidation. After each bottle is filled screw on the cap and invert a few times to mix in the sugar. Place the bottles upright in a spot to sit and carbonate for 10 - 14 days. All the tips for fermentation apply to the bottles.
After your beer is carbonated chill and enjoy!
Brewing beer is a great hobby. I wouldn't have kept at it for so long if it wasn't. Using the Mr. Beer kits when you first start out is the best way to start because they take care of everything for you. All you have to do is worry about having fun and drinking beer!
Tips & Warnings