Home brewing is a fun and rewarding hobby. By making your own beer you can not only make sure you have your favorite styles of beer always on hand, it is a great way to learn about new styles you might not have tried. You can even experiment and make up your own styles of beer, mixing ingredients from different recipes.
Before you can start to design your own recipes, you need to brew your first batch. In this guide we will go over the basic steps for brewing beer using the extract brewing method.
First thing you need is your brewing equipment. You don't need to spend a large amount of money on equipment. Most home brewing supply stores or sites have beginner home brewing kits that will give you all the equipment needed to brew an excellent batch of beer. Once you have a few batches under your belt, you can decide if you want to spend more money on extra equipment.
Once you have gotten the equipment to brew in, you will need ingredients and a recipe. Again, a home brewing ingredient kit will be your easiest way to go. A kit will come with all the ingredients already measured and the recipe included. Another option is to visit your local brew store and ask to see their list of recipes.
Once you have your equipment and your ingredients, you can start your brew day. It is important to set aside at least two hours to go through the brewing steps. Once you start brewing, stopping can lead to contamination and ruined beer. Make sure your brewing area is as clean as possible. You will be sanitizing all your equipment as part of the brewing, but it is very important to make sure all your surfaces are clean.
Your first step in brewing your beer will be to boil 2-3 gallons of water. You will want to use a pot that will hold at least 5 gallons of water so it can also hold the malt extract that is in your recipe. Once the water is warm, slowly add your dry or liquid extract. It is important to stir continuously while you are adding the extract to prevent it from settling to the bottom of the pot and burning. Once you have all the malt added to the water, continue to stir regularly to prevent burning and boil overs. Do not cover the pot as this will also cause a boil over.
The water and malt mix is now called wort. Follow your recipe to decide how long to boil before step two, which is to add hops to the wort. Usually at around 30 to 60 minutes you will add one batch amount of hops sometimes followed by a second in the last few minutes of the boil. Don't forget to stir often.
While the wort is boiling, sanitize the rest of your equipment which should include your fermentation bucket, air lock, siphon and tubing. Most beginner kits have a sanitizer that does not need heavy rinsing, or you can use household bleach followed by a very thorough rinsing to sanitize.
Once your boiling time is over and you have added all the hops you can move on to the next step, cooling the wort. One quick way to do this is to fill your sink with a bag of ice and water and put your brew pot into the ice bath. It is very important that the wort is close to room temperature before adding the yeast. If the wort is to hot when you add the yeast, the yeast will die, and fermentation will not happen.
Once the wort is cool you can pour it into the fermentation bucket, add the yeast, top it off if called for in the recipe, close the lid and attach the airlock. This is the last step, but the longest since you now have to wait for the beer to ferment. You will know when fermentation is happening because you will see bubbles start to come out of the air lock. Once the bubbles stop coming out every minute or so your beer is ready for bottling. This should take 1 ½ to 2 weeks.
Once the beer is ready, you can decide if you want to bottle or keg the beer. Most brewing kits have instructions and suggestions on the best ways to do that for each style of beer.