Has the following situation ever happened to you?
It’s a Friday night. After a long week of work and an hour-long commute through the snow, you finally arrive home. You walk inside, open up the refrigerator and reach for a beer, only to find that you’re out. You’ve got two options: get bundled up again and brave the elements, or spend your Friday night beer-less.
Neither sounds enticing, right? What if you had a third option, such as drinking a beer you brewed on your own?
That’s right. Forget about making the long trek to the store. Welcome to beer brewing 101, where the only trek you’ll have to make is to your basement or storage space to get a bottle of your own homemade beer. Follow the steps below, and you’ll be drinking your own beer in no time!
Step 1: Gather Equipment and Ingredients
You’ve got options when it comes to equipment. You can purchase home brewing kits for as little as $40 from stores such as Target, or spend a couple hundred dollars on a comprehensive kit. If it’s your first time and you’re interested in saving money, you can most likely find some items in your own kitchen. Such items include
- Large kitchen pot that can hold 3–4 gallons of water
- Kitchen thermometer
- Large funnel
- Rolling pin
- Freezer bags
Other necessary items include
- 3-gallon container of bottled water
- Empty 3-gallon container
- Air lock
Now that you’ve got the necessary equipment, it’s time for the ingredients. You can purchase the ingredients online, or you’ll need to find a local supply shop. For the sake of this experiment, let’s say you want to brew a 2.5-gallon batch of ale. The ingredients required are
- 3 pounds light-dried malt extract
- 8 ounces of crushed crystal malt
- 1 ounce of Northern Brewer pellet hops
- 1 package of brewer’s yeast
- 3/8 cup of sugar
Step 2: Crush Crystal Malt
Place the crystal malt in the freezer bag, and use the rolling pin to crush it. Avoid crushing the crystal malt so much that it begins to turn into flour. Crush it just enough to break the grain.
Step 3: Steep
Pour a half gallon of water from the 3-gallon water bottle, and make a mark at the 2.5-gallon water level. Pour the remaining 2.5 gallons of water into the brew pot or kitchen pot. Be sure to leave extra space (at least 3 inches). Add the crushed grains and turn the temperature up to about 150 degrees for a few minutes. Once the temperature reaches 150 degrees, turn off the heat and cover the brew pot for 30 minutes. Use a strainer to remove the spent grain.
Step 4: Boil
Now it’s time to boil the contents inside the brew pot. Stir in the malt extract while making sure not to let it boil over (unless you want to clean up a mess). Once it’s boiling, add about 2/3 ounce of the hop pellets and continue boiling for approximately 1 hour. To sanitize the strainer, place it in the pot of boiling brew for the last 15 minutes. After the hour is up, add the remainder of the hop pellets and let it steep for 10 minutes.
Step 5: Cooling the Wort
You now have wort, which is unfermented beer. To cool the wort, create a cold-water bath in the sink and place the brew pot into the bath. Swirl the brew pot until the sides have cooled.
Step 6: Pour Cooled Wort
Using the strainer and funnel, pour the cooled wort into the empty 3-gallon container.
Step 7: Add Yeast
Once the wort is room temperature (or close to), it’s time to add yeast. Simply add the yeast from your packet and gently stir it with a sanitized stirrer.
Step 8: Fermentation
Place the 3-gallon container in a cool, dark place such as a basement. Make sure no direct sunlight hits the container. Within 12–24 hours, you should be able to see the fermentation process begin to take place. This is when the yeast converts the sugars in the wort to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Wait approximately 7–10 days for the full process to take place.
Step 9: Priming
Now it’s time to add additional sugars before you begin bottling. Boil 3/8 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water for approximately 5 minutes. After letting the mixture cool for a couple minutes, pour it into a sanitized plastic bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter into the same plastic bucket you just put the boiled sugar into.
Step 10: Bottling
According to some, brown/dark beer bottles work best because too much light can cause skunky beer. You can purchase empty bottles and caps, use old champagne bottles or use anything that can withstand the pressure of carbonation. The choice is yours!
Step 11: Aging
Let the bottled beer sit for at least 7 days in a cool, dark place.
Step 12: Enjoy!
You’ve put in the hard work, so now it’s time to reap the benefits. Put a few bottles in the refrigerator and let it get to a temperature you prefer.
Throughout the entire process, it’s important to ensure that anything that comes into contact with the beer is sanitized. Even just a minor slip-up could jeopardize the taste.
Have you ever brewed your own beer? How did it turn out? Let us know in the comments below!