To get set up, you’ll need some basic equipment – a lot of which you probably already have. Visit your local home brewing supply store or check out Beer College’s Starter Home Brewing Kit for $43.
Here’s the equipment you need:
* Large Pot
* Plastic siphon hose
* Fermenter with Airlock
* Bottling bucket with spigot
* Mixing Spoon
* Sanitizer Powder
The easiest way to make your first batch is by picking up a pre-made beer kit. It will contain all the ingredients you need to brew your beer such as yeast and hopped malt concentrate. You may also want to buy additional fermentables, which are what add different flavors to your beer. Of course you can buy your ingredients separately, but using a kit helps keep things simple for your first few times.
Step 1: Prepare Your Wort - I.e. the Stuff That Turns Into Beer
1) The first step is to sanitize all your equipment. In fact, sanitizing is the most important part of the brewing process to prevent your beer from getting contaminated by bacteria. Clean everything with hot soapy water. Then you need to sanitize all your equipment by using a chlorine bleach solution.
2) Now that everything is sterilized, you are ready to start preparing the wort – basically the solution that is going to turn into beer. Put two quarts of water in your brew pot; then heat to around 180F or until it steams; then remove the pot from the heat. Add in the ingredients contained in your beer kit and follow any extra instructions provided with your kit.
3) Stir until everything is dissolved; then put the lid on and leave it sit for 20 minutes on low heat. After 20 minutes has passed, pour the wort into your fermenter which should be filled with 3 gallons of cool water. Stir for 4 minutes. This oxygenates the mixture which helps make the fermentation go smoothly. When the wort has cooled down you can add your yeast.
Step 2: Let Your Beer Ferment and Turn Into Alcohol
4) Now it’s time to let your wort ferment. The process starts right away and continues for 5 to 10 days. During this period it’s important to keep the temperature constant, around 65F, and to keep your wort in a dark place. You’ll be able to tell when your wort is fermenting because you will see tiny little air bubbles rising to the top through the air lock in your fermenter.
5) When day 5 arrives you need to start checking your beer each day. When there are no more air bubbles your beer is ready to bottle. You can also use a hydrometer to check the alcohol content of the beer. This will tell you definitively whether your beer has finished fermenting. Waiting might be hard, but it’s important so your beer tastes as good as possible.
Step 3: Bottle Your Beer and Get Ready to Drink It!
6) Before you bottle your beer, you’ll prepare a sugar-based solution that will help carbonate the beer. In your saucepan add 2 cups of water and ¾ cup dextrose or corn sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and then let it cool for 30 minutes. Pour it into the bottling bucket. The yeast will eat up the sugar and turn it into carbon dioxide.
7) Next you’ll transfer your beer from the fermenter into a bottling bucket. Not only do bottling buckets help make the bottling process easier, they also allow you to separate the beer from the sediment that will have formed at the bottom of your fermenter during fermentation.
Fill your siphon hose with water and then place one end of the siphon into your fermenter and the other into the bottling bucket. Make sure the bottling bucket is lower than the fermenter. Your beer will immediately start siphoning into your bottling bucket.
8) Now that the beer is in your bottling bucket, grab the bottles you’ve set aside to fill with your beer. A 5 gallon mix of beer will yield 53 bottles. To make this step easier, you can bottle your beer in empty soda bottles – they work just as well as beer bottles and are a lot simpler to fill. Five gallons of beer will fill 8 or 9 soda bottles. Fill each bottle leaving 1 inch of air at the top. Cap securely and make sure there are no leaks.
9) Right now if you taste your beer it will taste pretty flat. It’s not quite time to drink it yet. You need to put your bottled beer in a cool dark place for carbonation to occur. Don’t put it in the fridge as that’s too cold. Basements work great. It now needs to sit for 2 more weeks. And then it will be time to enjoy!