How to Brew Beer




Introduction: How to Brew Beer

This is a step by step guide to brew beer from scratch using the raw ingredients. The method explained here is a "full mash" meaning that the extract is made from crushed malted grain and not pre-prepared extract, which can be bought in a tin.
Total preparation time until ready to drink is approx 3 weeks. (worth the wait!)

Step 1: Equipment

The main kit you'll need is a container to heat the liquid in(metal one in the picture), another large bucket/bin type container to transfer the liquid into(white in picture) and a final beer barrel to store (rack) the beer into. You can also store the finished product in beer bottles (bottle conditioned). Full list of kit:

1) Boiler/Mash Tun to hold 5 Imperial Gallons*/25 Litres. One used in picture is metal with a heating element in the bottom. I think you can buy plastic ones also. Also a large pan would work
2) Fermentor/Bucket to hold 5 Imperial Gallons/25 Litres
3) Sterilizer (eg Sodium Metabisulphite. Chlorine-based, Iodophor, San Star)
4) Water treatement, Calcium Chloride,Epson Salts, Gypsum (see step 4)
3) Stiring implement
4) Large Jug
5) Thermometer
6) Hydrometer
7) Scales to weigh out ingredients
8) Straining Bag (Mashing and Sparging bag)
9) Barrel and/or Bottles
10) Syphon tube
11) Metal bottle tops (if using bottles)
11) Gadget to get metal tops onto bottles (if using bottles)

  • Note on Gallons.
1 Imperial Gallon = 4.456 Litres
1 US Gallon = 3.785 Litres

Step 2: Ingredients

These are all available online or at your local brew shop. This is a "London Pride" recipe from Dave Line book "Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy" by Dave Line. This will make 5 gallons or 25 litres.

1) Crushed Pale Malt (I used Maris Otter) 7lb or 3.5kg
2) Crushed Crystal Malt 8oz or 350g
3) Water 3 gallons or 15 litres
4) Irish Moss 1tsp or 5ml
5) Demerara sugar 10oz or 310g
6) Fuggles Hops 1oz or 30g
7) Goldings Hops 2 and three quarter oz or 85g
8) Brewers Yeast 2oz or 60g (I used a dried packet mix of 11.5g)
9) Gelatine, Half oz or 15g

Step 3: Sterilise!

Make sure all equipment is Sterilised. This will stop bacteria and wild yeasts messing up the beer. I used Sodium Metabisulphate but I read that a chlorine based steriliser will be better at killing wild yeast rather than just inhibiting the growth (also i'm told that Iodophor and San Star work well) . Rinse well !!
Keep all equipment sterilised at all times, don't sterilize too early and if it's used or put down on a surface then sterilize again.

Step 4: Add Water

Add 3 Imperial gallons (not US!) or 15 litres of water to the mash tun/boiler. The water is then treated depending on whether you live in a Hard or Soft water area.

Hard water:
1) Add 1tsp of Flaked Calcium Chloride or Lactic Acid Solution (or boil water for 15 minutes then use when cooled).
2) Add 1tsp Gypsum (Calcium Sulphate)
3) Half tsp of Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulphate)

Soft water:
1) Add 1tsp Gypsum (Calcium Sulphate)
2) Half tsp of Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulphate)

Give it a stir

Step 5: Prepare to Add Malt / Start Heating

Put your "Sparging bag" over the top of the mash tun. This will stop the malt touching the element in the boiler.
Turn on the boiler and start to raise the temperature to 60 degrees C (140F)

Step 6: Stir in the Malt

Stir in the correct amount of both the Crushed Pale Malt and the Crushed Crystal Malt(gives colour).
Keep stiring as the malt is added. Keeping the temperature at around 66 degrees C (151 F) leave for the next 1 and a half hours. Putting the lid on the boiler should keep the temperature constant. Keep checking every 20mins or so to ensure temperatue is correct. This is the stage where the fermentable sugars are obtained from the malted grain it's "mashing'.

Step 7: Drain Wort Into Fermenting Bucket

Open up the tap and drain the Wort into the Fermenting bucket.

Step 8: Sparging

With the Boiler tap still open keep topping up the Boiler with mains water which has been heated to slightly hotter than the mash, rinsing throught the malt until the Fermenting bucket is topped up to 4 Imperial Gallons or 20 litres. This is called Sparging

Step 9: Measure Out the Hops

As per ingredients in Step 2.

Step 10: Add Wort Back to Boiler and Add Hops

Pour the Wort from the Fermenting bin back into the Boiler and add all the Fuggles hops and just 2oz or 60g of the Goldings hops. Boil the mixture and then add in just 8oz or 250g of the Demerara Sugar (rest is used later on). Also add in 1 teaspoon of Irish Moss. Then leave to boil for 1 hour and 30 minutes

Step 11: Add Second Lot of Hops

Switch off the heat and add half oz or 15g of Goldings hops. Leave for 15 minutes for the hops to soak in.

Step 12: Transfer Wort to Fermenting Bucket.

Peg the cleaned and sterile cloth used earlier for sparging over the top of the fermenting bucket. This will prevent the grain and hop debris from entering. Another tip is to slightly obstruct the tap from the inside to prevent hops clogging the tap.
Turn on the tap and let the wort drain from the boiler to the bucket.

Step 13: Top Up Fermenting Bin With Cold Water

Top up the fermenting bin with cold water up to 5 Imperial gallons or 25 Lltres. At this point you can take a Hydrometer reading. This will be the original gravity (o.g.), the reading on this batch today was taken at 1040 o.g the recipe said it should be 1042 o.g. so not far off.

Step 14: Adding Yeast

Once the wort has cooled to about room temperature you can add the yeast. It can get a better start if you cool a pint of the wort in a seperate glass and then add the yeast to the pint of wort. Once it's given a start in there you can add it to the room temperature wort. In this case we waited overnight before the pint of yeast mix was added to the fermenting bin. This is also known as pitching the yeast.

Step 15: Fermentation Begins

The beer started to visibly ferment about and 1h 30mins after the yeast was added. This picture was taken after about 6 hours. The fermentation will continue now for around 3-5 days. Take some hydrometer readings throughout this time and you will see how its coming along. We are looking for a hydrometer reading of about 1012. Carry on to read the next step though as there is something to do before the fermentation is finished.

Step 16: Skim the Top of the Yeast Off

You have to take the dark head of yeast off, or it sinks back into the beer and makes it taste too bitter. It then carries on fermenting with a lighter coloured head. This was done after about 12 hours of fermenting.

Step 17: Fermentation Slows

This was taken after around 24 hours. Hydrometer reading taken at 1020.

Step 18: Syphon Beer in Barrel

After about 4 or 5 days the beer should be fully fermented. The gravity should read 1012. Use the syphon tube to Syphon the beer from the beer to the barrel. Make sure the Fermenting bucket is higher than your barrel! (as per next pic/step)

Step 19: Syphon Beer in Barrel Another View

enter longer description for this step

Step 20: Prepare the Last of the Hops and the Finings

Prepare the finings(gelatine) and the last of the hops to add to the barrel.
That's half oz or 15mg of gelatine mixed with water in a cup. The finings are used to clear the beer. The final flavouring of quarter oz or 60g of Goldings hops is also going to added directly to the beer in the barrel.

Step 21: Add Hops and Finings and Leave for 7 Days

Add hops and finings (Gelatine) and leave for 7 days.

Step 22: Drain Beer Back Into Fermenting Bin

Drain the beer back into the fermienting bin. This will ensure the hops added are filtered out of the beer.

Step 23: If Using Bottles, Sterelize Them

Sterelize the bottles and leave upside down to drain.

Step 24: You Will Need a Gadget Like This to Put the Bottle Tops On

You will need a gadget like this to put the bottle tops on

Step 25: Add Sugar and Then Siphon the Beer Into the Bottles.

Add half a teaspoon of demerera sugar into each bottle. Use a funnel will make it easier. I used (15x) 500ml beer bottles. Make sure they are proper beer bottles, other bottles/containers may be lible to explode under the carbon dioxide that will be produced within the bottle. Siphon the beer from the bin into each bottle.

Step 26: Syphon Remainder/all the Beer Back Into Barrel

Syphon the beer back into the barrel. You need to prime the barrel with 2oz or 60g of Demerara sugar (less if you used some of your beer for bottles like I did). I took some of the beer to one side in a glass and mixed the sugar in and then re-introduced the beer/sugar mix with the main batch of beer.
Leave for a week in the barrel before sampling your beer.

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    Question 3 years ago on Step 25

    In step 25 the beer is being syphoned in bottles but in step 26 it is being put Syphoned back in the barrel.Why is this.


    Reply 3 years ago

    When I made the beer we split the batch, half into bottles and the other half into a primed barrel


    6 years ago

    Brilliantly clear recipe and methodology. Thanks for this, I am definitely happier to have a go at a full mash beer myself now!


    15 years ago on Step 2

    hi is this the malt extract and how can i find it if were i live there are no brew suplies shops is there any other place ican find it

    Lord Wispa
    Lord Wispa

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    grow rye grain (or other malts grains) in a little water till roots show, grill till amber, boil, then blend, strain, liquid is malt extract.


    Reply 15 years ago on Step 2

    Hi there, have a search around for an online supply. There are plenty here in England. Where do you live?


    Reply 15 years ago on Step 2

    in saudi arabia and no alcohol at all we only have nonalcoholic beer and idon't know what is the malt extract


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Malt extract are the sugars and proteins resulted after brewing.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    "Malt extract: Many home brewers enter into the hobby by making beers with malt extract. Malt extract is created through a process of mashing grain to make wort and then evaporating the water. The resulting extract can be added back to water later in order to create a new wort.
    There are two main varieties of malt extract Dry Malt Extract (DME) and Liquid Malt Extract (LME)." -

    Malt extract is usually bought in cans(liquid) or bags (dry), and is often hopped (contains all the hops needed for the beer), which makes this the simplest method for the beginning brewer.


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    Get as much non-alcoholic beer as you can get your hands on, add some sugar and some yeast and let it ferment. Hey presto beer with alcohol in.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    It might have preservatives in it or the alcohol may be boiled off...

    Lord Wispa
    Lord Wispa

    7 years ago on Introduction

    HARDLY from scratch! I brew MY beer from vege scraps and home made malt extract using kitchen pots and pans. YOURs requires a Homebrew store to get the brew stuff and equipment from!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    if we want to make less quantity ( assuming we keep the ingredient analogy ) does the boiling remain the same


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice Instructable, good, clear pictures... However, I'm wondering why you don't add the sugar directly into the bottling ("fermenting") bin, and then mix it with the beer just before bottling. Adding sugar to each bottle individually would explain your exploding bottles - as Charlie Papazian says in his "The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing," from 1984: "Adding an excessive amount of priming sugar [which is easy to do if you are spooning sugar into each bottle] will result in overcarbonation and the possibility of exploding bottles. The older method... adding 1/2-1 teaspoon of sugar to each bottle will result in inconsistent carbonation and bacterial contamination, which may result in excessive foaming." - The older method is what people tried here during Prohibition days, and lead to a lot of bottles becoming grenades.

    I'm thinking that not opening the fermenter every day will help with reducing contamination - an air lock is your inexpensive friend!

    I've never seen the yeast scooped out of the fermenter before, but it's not necessary - the old yeast will die and fall to the bottom of the barrel, and there may be billions of viable yeast cells still working away in the stuff you throw away. The yeast will "clean up" after itself, helping with clarity and flavor


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Not really a problem to aerate your wort if you do it when the wort is cold, but I've moved away from splashing to avoid forming too much foam pre-fermentation and I've seen an improvement in head retention...

    I've been testing different methods and one that is working great is to siphon the beer and create an air pocket to expose wort to oxygen... this adds the oxygen without forming too much foam...

    Splashing from your mash tun to your kettle?... debatable... I am well aware of hot side aeration and personally I don't do it, but I also know that boiling removes oxygen from the wort hence why we aerate post boil... since you already do it, try adding a hose and see if you see an improvement and report :)

    As far as fining it depends on what you are trying to clear up on the beer... protein haze, polyphenol haze, etc.? Rather than just focusing on fixing haze at the end of the brewing process, look for ways to reduce haze during the brewing process... then look for finings to take care of the last little details...


    I'm looking for a metal electric Tun—any online sources? I've found some plastic ones and some metal pots (they require burners).



    10 years ago on Step 3

    What I want to do is grow my own barley. Then malt that barley, and then make my own beer from that. I would also like to culture my own yeast from wild yeast but that might be to hard, (I know that it's not super easy to start a sour dough from wild yeast)

    Peace Jeff


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, If you wish to grow your own barley, i am suggesting for organic barley which you can make organic beer.


    14 years ago on Introduction

    Nice instructable i was thinking to make one myself for a while. I brew for more than 10 years now. I'm doing it a bit differently though. We have leased a room, that was a cheesemaking facility before. We have a walk in cooler and a sewer in the middle of the room. We brew in a more advanced manner, mainly because of our equipment and the batch size. (50l or 13 U.S. gal or 11 imperial gal) Pictures: Some of our malts, the big blue bin is pilsner, the smaller white ones contain munich, vienna, caramel, wheat, dark wheat...the brewery laptop, some of our fermenters. In the corner you see bottles conditioning. 2nd picture is our bottle washer, this device really rocks. 3rd picture is our "brew tower" heated by 3 x 10kw propane heaters. 4th picture is the cooling setup with counterflow chiller and pump. At the moment of the shot, it's recirculating sanitizing solution. (We use a product called "Shuredis" from diversey-lever. It doesn't smell like bleach or stain like iodophor and after a couple of 100 batches without infection, i'd say it's pretty much up to the job...)