Brewing Guide

Brewing you own beer is easier than you think, however be aware that the process does take time and that you won’t have your own supply of amber nectar ready for consumption within the first hour of brewing. None the less starter kits are relatively cheap to come by, so if you are a total novice to the world of brewing here are a few tips to get you started on your first batch.

Ingredients

Malt extract, hops, specialty grains and yeast

Preparation

As any experienced brewer will tell you, 80% of the secret of success is cleanliness. Thoroughly clean and sanitize everything that is going to come in contact with your beer. The easiest way to do that is to use an electric dish washer set at the high heat setting or use a powdered cleanser such as PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash).

Do not use a scrubber that will scratch the surface of whatever you're scrubbing making them almost impossible to sanitize. Rinse well, soak briefly in a bleach or iodine solution then thoroughly rinse again and allow to air-dry or if necessary a dry hand towel that has been boil washed.

Have all of your ingredients prepared and measured in advance to avoid any delays when you’re midway through the process.

Brewing

brewing

Before you begin get a notebook and write down everything you do—the cleaning process, what strain of yeast, the amount and specific type of malt, what variety of hops, and any specialty grains or other ingredients used to produce your beer. This will allow you to reproduce any given brew, or provide a basis for experimentation and improvement.

Put any specialty grains into a mesh grain bag to contain the grains and steep them in the large stock pot in 10 liters of hot water around 66°C for about 30 minutes. Remove the grains and allow the water to drip out of the grain bag and into the pot. Do not squeeze the bag because you may extract tannins that will give your beer an astringent flavor.

Add the malt extract and bring everything to the boil, the hops are usually added at various intervals to add flavor, bitterness, or aroma and the times will be spelled out for you in the kit's instructions for your style of beer. In general hops added early in the boil will contribute more bitterness but at the expense of flavor and aroma. Hops added at the end of the boil will have a more pronounced flavor and aroma but will not contribute significantly to the bitterness of the beer After you have boiled the wort you need to cool it as quickly as possible. The easiest way is to put the whole pot in a sink or bathtub that is filled with ice water. Once it's around 27°C you are ready to transfer it to the fermenter.

After the wort has cooled and before fermentation starts is the one and only time that splashing is encouraged. Yeast need oxygen, and splashing the wort as you pour it into the fermenter will deliver that. Once fermentation has started, you want to minimize exposure to air and using a large strainer scoop the hops out—you've already got all the good stuff out of them.

(Brewing beer is a lot like brewing a really good coffee...except it takes much longer)

Add water to make 20 liters. You are now ready to add the yeast. Some yeast requires that you stir them with warm water to activate them prior to adding, others do not.

Put the lid on your fermenter and affix the air-lock to the top. Put the fermenter in a dark area that stays a fairly consistent room temperature (lagers need refrigeration to ferment properly). In about 24 hours you should notice the air-lock happily bubbling away, if it hasn't started doing anything after 48 hours you might have a problem such as dead yeast and will have to start again.

Leave the mixture for around 2 weeks by which time there should be no sign of activity.

Boil the malt extract in a little water and let it cool then add it to your fermented beer and it is ready for bottling.

bottling

Bottling

Using a cleaned and sanitized length of plastic tubing as a siphon, transfer the beer as gently as possible—so that there's little or no aeration—from the fermenter to the bottling bucket trying not to get any of the sediment from the fermenter into the bottling bucket.

Attach your cleaned and sanitized bottle filler to your clean and sanitized plastic tubing, the other end of the tubing attaches to the bottom end of the spigot. (If you are only using one bucket, it is important to let the fermented beer settle after stirring in the priming sugar solution.

If you are using a bottling bucket, just open the spigot and put the bottle filler in a bottle, pushing the bottle filler to the bottom will let the beer flow. Seal the bottles then store them at room temperature for 1-2 weeks before refrigerating.

Once your bottles have had a chance to chill you’re ready to sample all your hard work.