Today I'm going to share two of my favorite things with you:  Science and Beer!

My little brother is the brewmaster at Steelhead Brewery here in Eugene, and is truly a master of his craft.  He's not a graduate of one of those brewing programs you'll find here and there, oh no.  Ted started to learn about brewing by dumping some water, sugar, bread yeast, and root beer extract into a plastic jug in his closet when he was 14, and seeing what happened (it wasn't pretty). 

Over the years he worked at it and worked at it and eventually metamorphosed into the finest brewer I know.  Through study combined with trial and error, he has developed both intuitive and empirical knowledge of the craft. 

Ted came over to my house a while back to help me brew a simple extract based 5 gallon batch of Northwest IPA (my favorite!), and I documented the process.  He took the time to answer some technical questions about what's really going on inside the beer.

Read on to learn not just how to make a great ale, but what's happening on a chemical and biological level, why things are done the way they're done, and have a bit of history thrown in, free of charge.  To start, here's a video of the process, with details in the following steps:

One more thing:  I'm publishing this instructable in tandem with a recipe for simple spent grain bread.  When you're done brewing, use those spent grains to make an amazing, delicious, home baked bread!

Step 1: Gather Supplies: Basics for Homebrewing

Brewing beer requires a fairly large amount of equipment.  If you've never brewed before, I highly recommend you find someone who already brews, and see if they'll help you with your first beer and let you use some of their equipment.  That way, you'll find out if you enjoy the process before you make a large cash investment.  What's more, most homebrewers are very enthusiastic about their hobby and love to get someone else on board!

If you have to start from scratch, or you're ready to make that leap and buy your own stuff, there are two good options:

If you want to buy new, find a local homebrewing supply store that you like.  You can buy this stuff online, but having the assistance of someone who really knows the process is invaluable and absolutely worth paying a bit more for--you'll also be supporting local businesses!  Here in Eugene, Falling Sky Homebrew is my first choice.  In most good sized cities, you can find a few options to choose from, so find one you like where you can build a good rapport with the employees--they will be a great source for ideas and information!

If you'd rather buy used or you're low on cash, as I mentioned in my backyard astronomy instructable, this is the kind of hobby people fall in and out of.  Lots of folks have beer brewing supplies they'd really like to get out of the garage, and they'll often part with it for a fraction of what they paid.  Check the classified in the paper and check on craigslist--in fact, take out a wanted ad in craigslist.  Someone will make you a deal!

Here is a list of absolutely must haves:
  • 5 gallon or larger carboy
  • 5 gallon or larger bucket, preferably with a spigot at the bottom
  • Large cooking pot
  • Racking cane, can be as simple as a long glass tube with attached hose, but I recommend spending the extra bucks for an auto siphon, they make certain steps way easier.
  • A large stirring spoon
  • Cooking thermometer with a long probe
  • Carboy brush
  • An airlock for the carboy
  • Sanitizing solution (I like the foaming kind)
  • Hop/grain socks
  • Large funnel
Finally, you'll need something to put the finished product in--classic bottles are cheap and plentiful but require caps and a capper.  Grolsch bottles are totally reusable aside from occasionally replacing the rubber seal and require no extra equipment, but they're much more expensive.  Mini kegs are another good option, but are very expensive to get started with and kind of tricky to carbonate.  Actual kegs and kegerators are another story, and could use an instructable all their own.

Here's another short list, these are nonessential items, but very useful:
  • Wort chiller
  • An extra carboy for secondary fermentation
  • An extra bucket for cleaning
  • Bottle brushes/cleaners
Thanks man. This is bar far one of the most in depth instuctables I have found about home brewing. <br>Thankyou very very much. I will passing this info on to a lot of people.
<p>Cool, thanks! I'm glad you found it interesting.</p>
Hey I just bought some of those mini kegs so that I can add some Flanders Red into them. Have you ever aged beer in them for an extended period of time? I'm thinking about 6 months to a year.
Picture of 11 gallons of flanders red in 2ndary
Hey, I just noticed this comment, sorry I never replied! <br> <br>I don't know about aging in those mini kegs, you might run into a problem if the yeast gets too active. I had one of my kegs blow up a while back, and hoooooo boy was that a mess! <br> <br>Thanks for posting the picture, a digital patch is on it's way along with a code. Let me know how your brew turns out!
<p>I just bottled the beer this past weekend. Hopefully I have no problems with the mini kegs.</p>
<p>Nice, thanks for the pics! Good luck with those kegs!</p>
<p>Amazing instructable! I'm going to start a 4 gallon batch in a week or so, wish me luck!</p>
<p>Good luck! Let us know how it turns out!</p>
<p>This instructable was great. I just got finished with my 2 week wait on a Bobblehead 60 minute IPA here in Virginia Beach. I have to say, though&hellip;. some bottles tasted good, some tasted like the lame-o Mr. Beer batch I brewed before that. My guess is that I either didn't cool the wort off quick enough (actually, it cooled largely by losses to ambient temp till the next morning when I gave it the ice bath), or something was not as sanitized as it should have been. Anyone with tricks or tips, I welcome them. I am encouraged by your instruction here to go start on the next one, though!</p>
Bit of a late reply, sorry! From my professional brewer brother--he says 99% of &quot;off&quot; flavors in beer come from improper sanitation. You can never scrub your equipment too much!<br><br>Glad you found the instructable helpful, I'd love to hear how your next batch turns out!
About secondary fermentation, do i need to pitch a little extra yeast or i just need to pour some dissolved sugar? And i'm not sure about opening the carboy, I just want to make sure it will not be infected or anything and ruin my beer.
Generally you don't need to add any yeast or sugar during secondary, there's usually enough live yeast and sugars, and the primary purpose of secondary fermentation is clarification.<br><br>As long as your siphon and secondary carboy are sterile, there should be no chance of infection. Those are the only two serious points of contact, and the yeast should still be active, making the beer resistant (though not immune) to infection from another beastie.<br><br>Good luck with your beer, let me know how it turns out!<br>
For Sure! I'm going to dry hop it tomorow, the bad thing is I don't have another carboy (this one is a 4,5L glass gallon of wine from a cristmas kit) so i think is just open, dump some Hops inside and then put the airlock back on. I will post some pictures as it goes. <br> <br>Also, the hops is dry hops that I found in a natural products store, it's used for tea, so I don't know if it's going to work for the aroma. If not, i will just bottle it up and let it rest for another week of so.
You can always siphon it into a (sterile) bucket, clean the carboy, and then return it. If you don't, just be really careful not to upset all the sediment at the bottom of the carboy when you go to bottle it!<br><br>I don't think the hops you found will be a problem unless they've been chopped really fine. If so, wrap them in coffee filters or a hop sock to try and keep all that particulate matter out of the beer.
<p>I opened one of my bottles of beer today. It was bitter because of the hops and it was the most fizzy beer i ever drinked! (too much sugar on the bottling) and i wsa my first sucessfull beer batch, Thanks alot for this incrible instructable, now I feel confident for bigger projects!</p>
<p>Right on, glad to hear everything turned out well! I usually have the opposite problem, with beer that's a tad too flat.</p><p>Watch out though, my brother the brewmaster has overdone it on the sugar when bottle conditioning and ended up with beer he brewed in the winter exploding in the shed that summer! </p>
<p>Ha, do you believe that 3 of my 16 bottles have exploded?! It's was interesting though, they all braked a piece of the bottle mouth. Oh, they were twist cap too... I know that i shouldn't use twist caps but it was the only option I had at the monment.</p>
<p>Wow, that didn't take long! Watch out for those twist tops, that's supposedly a big no-no.</p>
I always laugh at people who think they have to buy out their local HB store and have every piece of equipment ever made. You don't need much of anything to make beer. You only need or have to have it if you want to reproduce the exact results. Remember beer has been around longer than all those fancy modern toys and gadgets. Brewing in food safe plastic is just fine.The co2 produced won't allow o2 to oxide the beer. Short term storage is even fine. You just don't want beer in plastic long term.
You need to use glass for carboy. Pet plastic will let in air at micro scale.
(Just to clarify - when you say &quot;degrees&quot;, you mean Fahrenheit, yes?)
Whoops! I've been trying to be more international with my use of units, but I totally spaced it on this one. I've fixed it now, if I missed any let me know!
All looks good to me!<br><br>(Moves &quot;build home brewery&quot; further up &quot;to do&quot; list...)
Great stuff, Ian!<br /> Having brewed my own beer for many years, I fully enjoyed reading your journey and&nbsp;especially&nbsp;loved the video segments where beer knowledge was shared.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong><em>Beer; science!</em></strong>
Thanks Mike! <br>Brewing your own beer is always a rewarding experience. I've found doing it with an expert like my brother around really adds an extra dimension, and thought I'd share it with everyone!

About This Instructable




Bio: depotdevoid is short for The Depot Devoid of Thought, the place where you go when you lose your train of thought and you're waiting ... More »
More by depotdevoid:Customize Your Skateboard Deck! Wifi Controlled Roving Webcam! Magnetic Pixel Poetry 
Add instructable to: