Have you ever wanted to brew your own beer, but were too intimidated by the process to actually attempt it?
Brewing is an ancient process that people who did not own even an electric source of heat achieved. WIth that said, this instructable is here to not only lead you through the simple steps to achieve the creation of your own at home brew, but also to help you understand each step of the process that our ancestors generously passed down to us.
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients
There are only 3 ingredients required for brewing, besides the typical time, water (8 gallons) and love that I would assume you already have available:
1. 5 pounds of Malted Barley
- This is your fermentable starch source!
- Barley, as you may know is a cereal grain, and "malted barley" is a form of it that has been soaked in water then spread out and dried in hot air
- Malting allows enzymes in the barley to modify the starch, turning it in to sugars, which are very important for inventing the flavor of your brew
- This is your flavor and antibacterial source!
- The antibacterial effect that hops have favors brewer's yeast, but helps to impede other, less desirable, microorganisms from growing in your brew
- Hops are made from flowers
- These guys balance the sweetness of your brew by adding a type of bitterness, as well as, creating the aroma you find most desirable
3. 1 package of Brewer's Yeast
- Yeast is the live bacteria that will convert your sugars produced throughout the brewing steps in to carbon dioxide and ethanol a.k.a. turning your brew into an alcoholic beverage!
- There are two types of brewer's yeast:
- Top-fermenting yeast - this type creates a foam on the top of the "wort" (a term to be learned later on) during fermentation
*Top- fermenting yeasts are good for producing an Ale*
- Bottom-fermenting yeast - this type is best fermented at cooler temperatures (in a refrigerated area instead of dark pantry)
*Bottom fermenting yeasts are good for producing Lagers, but can produce Ales as well*
NOTE: each of these ingredients can be found in your local health food store (unless you live near an awesome grpcery store) OR they can be ordered online.
Step 2: Gather Your Materials
- Mash tun
- Lauter tun
- Immersion cooler (looped copper tubing)
- Airtight containers
Note: the Mash and Lauter Tuns are typically large pots that only need to be capable of holding the mash and wort throughout the process.
Step 3: Mashing
- Using your Mash Tun - boil 8 gallons of water
- Once your water begins to boil, add the 5 pounds of malted barley
- This is referred to as "steeping"
- Every 30 minutes try to increase the water temperature by 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit
- Stop boiling the mash ("Mashout") when the temperature reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit
*Mashing allows enzymes to break down the starches in the malt in to sugars*
Step 4: Lautering
- Now that you have your "mash" you must separate the boiled grains from the sugar water
- Using any form of strainer, separate the liquids from the solids ("spent grains")
- The liquid extracted is called "wort"
- Wort is the liquid that now has the sugars in it that were created from the starches in the mashing step
- The spent grains (mash) that had been separated from the wort still contain converted sugars and you want as much of those sugars as possible
- Filter the spent grains with room temperature water a few times
Step 5: Boiling
- Boil your wort for 60-90 minutes
- Bring in the hops!
- Add hops in the beginning of the boiling process in order to add some bitterness to the wort
- During the last 30 minutes you can add in more hops of a different kind, or the same kind to add flavor and aroma
Step 6: Cooling
You want to cool the wort as soon as you take it off of the heat!
- Cooling can be done by allowing the wort to cool to room temperature, or you can use an immersion cooler
- An immersion cooler could simply be using a looped copper pipe that you lower into the wort and run cold water through it
IMPORTANT: The wort should be cooled to 60-70 degrees fahrenheit and the specific gravity of your wort should be checked using the hydrometer and record it
Step 7: Sealing and Fermenting
- Once the wort is room temperature, add in one package of brewer's yeast
- The mixture should be put in to an airtight container
*Fermentation has begun*
IMPORTANT: you must be sure to carry out this part of the process in a sterile environment because it becomes easy for the wort to become contaminated when it comes in contact with the yeast at room temperature
Step 8: Waiting
- Allow the beer to ferment for 1-2 weeks
- The yeast will consume the sugar of the wort and convert it in to carbon dioxide and ethanol
*You can store it in a cooler area, or in a typical pantry*
Step 9: FINALLY
- After the two weeks of waiting, check the specific gravity of your brew with your hydrometer and compare it to your hydrometer reading taken before
- specific gravity is the relative density when compared to water
- this is your alcohol content!
- If your brew is not at the specific gravity of your liking
- add more sugar
- reseal for another week or so
- If it is ready
- remove it from the airtight container and bottle it in any kind of storage bottle of your liking
NOTE: your specific gravity changes as the yeast converts the sugars from the wort in to ethanol