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.