Jordan got an awesome beer making kit for his birthday! So we (the girls), got to help by drinking Sangria (that tasted like malt wine), and snacking while the boys (Matt & Jordan) worked on boiling a lot of water. I’ve never watched the brewery process before – it was lengthy, detail orientated, and precise! Lots of sanitation, lots of measuring, lots of awesome. The more they brewed the more we drank.. and drank…and drank…
What is needed:
- A Large Pot – at least 3 gallons in size, though a larger one will generally result in fewer spills
- Tubing & Clamp – to siphon and bottle the beer- A 6 foot section of 3/8″ ID food grade plastic tubing will work. Clamps are available at your brew store
- An Airtight Fermenting Bucket – a 5 gal plastic bucket with lid, or a glass carboy. If you can afford it, purchase a glass carboy as they are easier to keep sanitized and don’t leak. If you get a carboy you may need a large bottle brush to clean it
- An Air Lock and Stopper – sized to fit your fermenter
- A Bottle Filler – available from your homebrew supplier – should be sized to fit on the end of your siphon tubing
- A Thermometer – A floating thermometer with a range of 0-100 C or up from 32-220 F
- Bottles – You need just over 2 cases in 12 oz bottles to bottle 5 gallons of beer. Do not use twist-off bottles – use high quality bottles that require a bottle opener.
- Bottle Brush – While not absolutely required, you usually need a small brush to get your bottles clean
- A Bottle Capper – a hand driven device to cap your bottles also available from your homebrew store
- Bottle Caps – New bottle caps sold at your brewing supplier – you need about 50 caps for a 5 gal batch
- A Sanitizing solution – Beer is prone to infection, so everything must be sanitized before use. Household bleach can be used, but it must be thoroughly rinsed to prevent contamination. Your brew store may have alternatives such as iodophor and starsan.
Brewing consists of five simple stages.
- Brewing the Beer – Pale malt extract and hops are boiled together with water for about an hour to sterilize the extract and release the bittering qualities of the hops. Frequently grains are steeped in the mixture prior to the boil to add additional color and flavor complexity.
- Cooling and Fermenting – The hot mixture (called wort) is cooled to room temperature and siphoned or transferred to a fermenter where it is combined with additional water to achieve the desired 5 gallon batch size. Once the mixture drops to room temperature, yeast is added to start the fermentation process. Cleanliness and sanitation are very important since the wort can be easily infected by bacteria in this state. An airlock is used to keep the fermenter sealed during fermentation. Your beer will ferment for 1-2 weeks.
- Priming and Bottling – Once the beer is fully fermented, it is siphoned to another container to prepare for bottling. Here priming sugars such as corn sugar sugar are mixed with the beer. The beer is siphoned into bottles and each bottle is capped with a bottle capping device.
- Aging – Once the beer has been bottled it needs to age for 2-6 weeks. During aging the yeast will ferment the remaining sugar you added and create carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide will naturally carbonate your beer so it is nice and bubbly. In addition, undesirable sediments such as excess yeast and proteins will drop out of the beer during aging and this will enhance the flavor of your beer. In may take several months to reach peak flavor, though homemade beer usually drinkable after a month.
- Drinking – When the beer is properly aged – just put the bottles in the fridge and enjoy! There’s nothing quite like a great beer that you made yourself.