How to make beer
Making beer at home is like making a batch of soup. It can be done with minimal equipment, a variety of ingredients, and minimum cooking skills.
Step 1: Water and malted grain
The first step is preparing the malt for steeping (like tea). You can omit this step in some recipes, but steeping grains can add character and depth to your beer that wouldn’t be there if you simply use dried malt extract alone. Prepare these grains by “crushing” them, but just enough so they are cracked, not ground to flour. Put the cracked grains in a steeping bag and steep them in water in your biggest soup pot.
After 30 minutes several pounds of dried malt extract are typically added. This is a sweet powder that comes from processors that extract it from the barley itself. It’s quite an efficient product to use and allows home brewers to make beer at home without having to deal with large amounts of grain and long brewing times. More dedicated brewers use “all-grain” methods instead of extracts. But it takes longer, and involves larger quantities of ingredients and equipment.
Extract brewing is a good approach if you’re just starting out. Brewing can be a rewarding experience, but it is also time consuming and requires equipment that you do not want to purchase until you are convinced this hobby is for you. Fortunately, you can purchase home brewing kits that include all the ingredients and equipment needed to make beer at home! If you want to learn how to make beer, these kits are a great way to get started.
Step 2: The boil
The grains have steeped, malt extract has been added, and it’s time to bring it all to a boil. Hops are added during the boil, contributing to the beer’s flavor and aroma, and counter-balancing the sweetness from the malted grain with necessary bitterness. Hops are added at certain times over the course of a 60- or 90-minute boil to achieve different effects.
There are many different varieties of hops out there and many of them bring their own unique flavors and bitterness. Choosing the right hops for the right style of beer is an important part of the process.
Step 3: Yeast and fermentation
Once the hops have been added and everything has boiled for at least 60 minutes, it’s time to add water to make the entire volume 5 gallons, then cool the beer, or “wort” as it’s called (unfermented beer).
Some people cover the brew pot and put it in the fridge, others use a device called a “wort chiller” that you put in the brew pot and run cold water through. It’s made up of copper tubing, and using this method will successfully chill the wort in a matter of 20-30 minutes.
Once the wort has been brought down to a temperature of under 80 degrees, it’s safe to put in the yeast. If the temperature is too high, the yeast will not be able to eat all the sugar in the wort, producing two important byproducts: alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Once the yeast has been “pitched”, the fermentation container is sealed, often times with an air lock stopper. This little device allows CO2 to escape while keeping oxygen and bacteria out. In 7-10 days, that carboy or bucket of beer will be fermented and ready for packaging.
Some people prefer to bottle their beer, others like to keg it. Cans have also become increasingly popular. It all depends on your preference and your equipment. After this beer is bottled, it can take an additional 3 weeks to properly “condition” and finish carbonating. If you use the kegging method, you can have ready-to-drink beer in about a week.
You can make beer at home
This is not by any means an exhaustive expo on how to make beer. It’s just a summary of typical home brewing methods many people are using today. To really understand it you need visual aids and instructions. One thing to note, sanitation is probably the most important issue when it comes to making beer. One mistake on the sanitation side of things, and you could easily ruin an entire batch.
With four major ingredients, minimal cooking gear, a few hours of spare time and some patience, just about anybody can make a batch of delicious homebrewed beer, right in their own kitchen. Stay tuned for more on this topic and some much more detailed instructions of how to actually do this. Cheers!