Introduction: Intro to Home Brewing

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One of the projects that I have been wanting to try since college is home brewing my own beer. Luckily a good friend of mine has some experience in brewing and volunteered to give me a hand. In this instructable, I am going to show you the basics of home brewing so you can get in on this fun, challenging, and rewarding (I hope) experience. I will be showing you how to handle the bottling in a couple of weeks once the beer is done fermenting. Lets get started!

Step 1: Supplies

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As always, you're going to need some equipment and ingredients. If you are a beginner like myself, I recommend getting an ingredient kit from your local brewing store or online. They are really great since they have all of the compatible ingredients in them and can make up for lack of experience.

Equipment

  • Large cooking kettle (16+ quarts)
  • Outdoor cooking stove (this probably will get a bit messy)
  • Stirring spoon
  • One Step cleaner (or something similar)
  • Measuring cup (or quart sized mason jar)
  • Carboy/ fermenting bucket (I've heard carboys work better)
  • Air lock
  • Hydrometer
  • Grain sock (often included in kit if you choose to get one)
  • Sink for ice bath

Ingredients (again these are all prepackaged if you get a kit, I can't recommend it enough). If you have some experience brewing, feel free to experiment with your ingredients since I'm sure you have a better idea than I do :P

  • Malt
  • Yeast
  • Favoring hops
  • Bittering hops

Step 2: Sanitize You Equipment

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One of the most important steps in home brewing is cleaning your supplies. If you are not extremely thorough with the cleaning you may contaminate your brew with a multitude of debris, most notably, yeast. By cleaning, you are limiting the debris and more precisely controlling the fermenting process. During our brewing we used One Step which is, as the name implies a one step cleanser and sanitizer. Just mix it in to your kettle that you will be cooking your wort in and dip the rest of your supplies in to finish this step. Be sure to sanitize your carboy or fermenting bucket too!

Step 3: Pack Your Grain Sock & Steep Grains

Picture of Pack Your Grain Sock & Steep Grains

The first step for the actual brewing process is to steep the grains. This process can be thought of as brewing tea. Before you can do this however, you have to pack the grains into the grain sock and tie a knot in the end. The sock is a porous cheesecloth fabric that allows the grain flavors to permeate into the wort. You will start by filling your kettle with about 2.5 gallons of water. Put it on the stove and begin heating. Temperature-wise, you are aiming for 80-110 deg F, you don't want it to boil! Dip the sock in the water to soak it then drop it into the kettle. Now depending on how strong you want your grain flavoring to be, the time you allow your grains to steep will vary. A typical time range for the grains is between 25-60 minutes. If you don't like a very grainy beer, opt for a shorter duration. When it is time to remove the sock, don't squeeze the liquid back into the kettle, just let gravity do the work.

Step 4: Add Your Malt

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At this point, you are ready to add your malt. Malt is the ingredient that gives beer its sweet favoring. At this point it time, its time to stir and increase the heat to a boil. You are going to want to continuously stir the wort while heating until you have a nice rolling boil. Be sure to stir the bottom of the kettle too so any sediment that may have settled doesn't burn and ruin the wort. Keep an eye on the kettle in case it starts to foam, you don't want this as it can boil over and cause a huge mess (and lost future beer).

Step 5: Add Your Hops

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Now something that I learned during this process is that beers actually use multiple types of hops. The first is the bittering hops and the second is the flavoring hops. Each does what the name implies, adding bitterness and flavoring to the wort. If you are not using a kit, be sure that your hops are compatible with each other and for the style of beer you want to brew. When you add the hops, first add the bittering hops and allow it to boil for about 55 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the time has elapsed, add the flavoring hops and let that boil for 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes has passed, immediately terminate the boil.

Step 6: Ice Bath

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Once all of the ingredients have been properly cooked down, you will want to cool the wort as quickly as possible. Make an ice bath by filling up a large sink or tub with ice and cold water. Continue to cool until the wort is at room temperature (about 70 deg). It is very important that the wort has cooled before you add the yeast, excessive heat will kill the yeast. No yeast= no beer. Occasionally stir the wort to ensure that it is all cooling evenly. You can use a thermometer (be sure to sanitize if you do) or just feel the outside of the kettle until you have gotten close to your desired temperature. At this time it is also a good idea to use your hydrometer to get a specific gravity reading. This number will be required after the beer is done fermenting to calculate the alcohol by volume percentage.

Step 7: Transfer to Carboy and Add Water

Picture of Transfer to Carboy and Add Water

This step is really easy to do but even more easy to make a huge mess. Use your funnel to minimize the chance of making a mess. If you are using a fermenting bucket rather than a carboy, this step will be much easier. Whatever you are using to ferment, transfer all of the wort into the fermenting vessel. Depending on how big your batch is will determine how much water you are going to add. We were making a 5 gallon batch so we had to add about 3 gallons of water to the wort.

Step 8: Pitch Yeast & Add Air Lock

Picture of Pitch Yeast & Add Air Lock

The last few steps go by quickly. Open the packet of yeast and dump the contents into your fermenting vessel. This is called pitching the yeast. The yeast is now ready to do its thing and tart fermenting. Now if you are not super savvy with chemistry, when yeast ferments sugar into alcohol, it creates carbon dioxide as a byproduct. We need the vessel to be closed but still allow the gasses to vent. Enter the airlock. To prepare the airlock, fill the two cylinders with water to the specified levels. Insert the airlock into the carboy and move it to its fermenting location. For best results, put it in a dark room that is between 62-70 degrees. The fermenting process typically takes two weeks but this time can vary. With this brew, the fermenting process was finished in 6 days.

Step 9: Now Let It Ferment, Brewing Finished!

Picture of Now Let It Ferment, Brewing Finished!

Te fermenting process should begin within 24 hours of the yeast being pitched. You will know it is occurring because small CO2 bubbles will be be bubbling through the airlock. Typically the fermenting process will begin to slow down after 4-6 days. The fermenting is complete when no more bubble activity occurs for 48 hours. Once the fermenting stop you will want to bottle within a couple of days for best results. So that's all there is to it! This is a fun project that while it takes some time that I am thrilled that I got the chance to try it. After doing my first home brew, I can honestly say that I am hooked and will be doing a lot more in the future. Thanks for reading and be sure to catch my follow up tutorial on how to bottle your brews!

EDIT: I have posted the follow up tutorial on how to bottle your home brewed beer. If you enjoyed this tutorial, please check it out!

https://www.instructables.com/id/Bottling-Your-Homebrews/

Comments

BillD16 (author)2015-08-10

Steady as you go, but the whole process, once well learned, is Beautiful. Worth having a read to see just how Malt is made nice to just know such, though not so necessary these days, , followed by the Mash Tum stage, then the Boiler where Hops, pinch of salt etc. can be added. Then 'Strike out', hops filtered ... Next stage is cooling down to add yeast, and then its fingers crossed close eye on Temperature, that leads up to eventual bottling / Kegging mode. Ah yes, those were the days... 69 now so many years since last tried such, therefore keep up the good work..........

dregalia (author)2015-08-09

Pretty good instructable on the introduction to brewing your own beer, but there are a few steps you missed.. I've been home brewing for over a year now. I suggest going to your local home brew store, picking up a kit for your first time out, and then moving to all grain later. In this case, you should be mashing in about 145-150, which is pretty standard. Then after that is done, do your boil, 60/90 minutes.. and doing your hops. Don't get me wrong, every beer is different, but realistically, you need to look into a bit more. What is your fermentation temperature? Should you keep it at 70/74 Do you bring it up to 76/77 to clean up the yeast and off flavors.. I would have included all of that in this instructable. There really is more to it. We could even get into water additives, and how to calculate your water right to get the best ph and chemical balance for the type of beer you're making. (harder waters make better dark beers) etc.

jnecina (author)2015-08-09

"and tart fermenting"? Looks good, but use find replace :)

XxelectricmanxX (author)2015-08-06

For the ingredients lol

Boddeeen (author)XxelectricmanxX2015-08-06

Glad to hear it! Good luck with your brew!!

XxelectricmanxX (author)2015-08-06

It's ok boddeeen... I got some information from a friend of one of my friends

nwonharp (author)2015-08-04

I don't see a recipe of how much of each ingredient is to be used , ( maybe I just wasn't paying attention or something )

Boddeeen (author)nwonharp2015-08-04

I'm no expert so maybe somebody else might be able to confirm this, but I think that the quantities will vary for the ingredients depending on the style of beer that you are making. If this project has taught me anything is that home brewing is just as much a art as it is a science. I would recommend looking online for a recipe if you decide to not go with a kit.

nwonharp (author)Boddeeen2015-08-04

Thanks very much for the reply ! Although I have never made beer , I sure have drank a lot of it over the years LOL ! A friend of mine that i used to work with made his own home-brew beer and gave me a 6-pack . He was into the darker beers . It was good , but not exactly my favorite . We never discussed the recipe , however . Now that I am retired , with time to do things , I may get the stuff and make some !

Cheers , take care , and have a good day !!

Jobar007 (author)2015-07-29

You should take your temp after you add your cool water since it will drop the temp of your wort. If you brew in winter, it can really drop your wort's temp and give your yeast a slow start.

Speaking of adding the water first, you should take your gravity after adding the water as well. You'll get a number that you can compare to your bottled gravity to get your % alcohol by volume. Measuring before your addition of water makes the first number meaningless.

I highly recommend that you list a brew journal in your equipment list. Make sure to document everything that you did when brewing, including mistakes. If you make a mistake when brewing a batch of beer (as in "Pitched at 85* F) and it turned out amazing, it allows you to duplicate the "mistake" to make the amazing batch once again.

Good luck, and remember: Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew!

blkmagik98 (author)Jobar0072015-08-02

100% agree with the idea about the journal as I have done that since my first batch. Haven't made any bad mistakes yet but have made a couple of good ones that I now can duplicate because I documented.

stormyt (author)2015-08-02

I ran a micro brewery for 2 years. There is nothing like fresh beer to start a day off. LOL. I mean finish the day at the brewery. In 2 years I amassed over a dozen award winning beers

jeanlafete (author)2015-08-02

I started making home made wine about a year ago. My girlfriend was not too crazy about the idea in the beginning, but after making grape wines I moved into different fruit wines including apple and pineapple. She is now a big fan of home brew! Home brewing is a very fun hobby and the sky is the limit! Have fun and be safe.... Thanks!

XxelectricmanxX (author)2015-07-28

I am a huge fan of beet myself. Despite prices, I am going to have to buy all these materials, because I'm trying this. Perhaps now I can truly have a good beer inside my house.

Boddeeen (author)XxelectricmanxX2015-07-29

To be completely honest, the cost involved was the reason I didn't attempt home brewing until now. I was greatly surprised by how affordable everything is actually was. If you already have a stove, the carboy will probably be the largest cost associated ($35-50) but you can use a fermenting bucket instead ($15-20). When its all said and done, you maybe have dropped $120.

Cambot339 (author)Boddeeen2015-07-31

i just got into homebrewing and I found that all you need is a $4 five-gal bucket from a hardware store with a lid, a $1 air lock, a bottle capper, and some star-san. All the other toys will make your beer better , but you don't need them to make some yummy beer. I think people go crazy on hardware becase homebrew stores offer these $200 kits when all you 'need' is 15 bucks worth of plastic and some sanitiser.

LAKER24 (author)2015-07-29

My prayers have been answered Thanxs for the post

Boddeeen (author)LAKER242015-07-29

Glad to have been of service!

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