This Instructable should serve as a one-stop shop for beer brewing. There are seemingly infinite tutorials, resources, and sites dedicated to this fine art; so, why am I writing this?
After finishing this process for the first time, there are a few takeaways and lessons that I would like to share with you (assuming you have never brewed).
Read on to find out how to get fully prepared, avoid my mistakes, and learn more about what to expect when you're expecting.. beer.
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Step 1: Supplies
I started this project when I overheard my coworker talking about how he quit brewing beer in 2011. I asked him casually if I could use his old brewing equipment if it was laying around. Voila! Free brewing equipment (for now). I tried to pick the easiest beer I could so I wouldn't screw up (more on that later).
Here are the supplies that I used with links to serve as pictures:
Knowledge from the local store Midwest Supplies. I highly suggest speaking with these folks and reviewing the information here. Let them know about your individual circumstances; for example, do you have a temperature controlled area for fermentation? Are you in a time crunch and you need your beer to ferment faster? Undoubtedly other questions will arise, speak with the experts! You should be able to walk into your local brew supply store with the following list and be out in no time at all.
Brew kettle: http://www.midwestsupplies.com/economy-stainless-...
Brew kit: I picked a beer I thought would be more forgiving and went with a Blonde Ale kit. If during this Instructable you are not sure where an ingredient came from, it is included in a typical home brew. Remember to keep the yeast cold! http://www.midwestsupplies.com/blonde-ale.html
Dial Thermometer: http://www.midwestsupplies.com/dial-thermometer.ht...
Large funnel that fits into your fementer: Self explanatory
Ice: Self explanatory
Auto-Siphon with appropriate tubing: http://www.midwestsupplies.com/regular-5-16-auto-s...
Fermenter with air lock: http://www.midwestsupplies.com/6-gallon-glass-car...
3 gallons of spring water: Tap water also works.
Blow off tube: http://www.midwestsupplies.com/tubing-4.html
Bottling bucket: http://www.midwestsupplies.com/bottling-bucket-wit...
Bottles: I had some bottles conveniently laying around, but you can also purchase them; http://www.midwestsupplies.com/12-oz-beer-bottles-...
Bottle capper: http://www.midwestsupplies.com/royal-crown-bottle...
Step 2: Brew Kettle
NOTE: The ingredients mentioned should be included in the Brew kit from Step 1.
The day of your brew, pull the yeast out of the refrigerator 3-6 hours before brewing and let it warm up to room temperature.
Pour 3 gallons of potable water into your 5 gallon brew kettle.
Start heating the water on high, you will eventually want the water to get between 150-158 degrees F.
Place the specialty grains into the straining bag included with your kit and steep the grains in the cold water while the water warms up; once the water has reached 150-158 degrees, remove the brew kettle from the heat and allow the grains to steep for 10 - 20 minutes.
Remove the bag while allowing it to drain into the brew kettle; discard the bag and grains.
Bring the kettle to a rolling boil.
Add hops and steep as time-appropriate. More information will be included in your brew kit.
After the kettle has been boiling for an hour, it is necessary to cool down the wort (what's in the kettle) as fast as possible. I filled up my sink with ice and stirred the wort occasionally with a sanitized spoon. EVERYTHING THAT TOUCHES THE WORT / BEER AFTER IT HAS BOILED MUST BE CLEAN AND SANITIZED. The goal is to cool the wort as fast as possible by packing the sink with ice and stirring to increase the surface area that is cooled.
Step 3: Transfer and Ferment
Once the wort has been cooled, pour the wort into the SANITIZED fermenter using the SANITIZED funnel. I will no longer write in caps, but let it known that sanitizing is the most important step after your wort has cooled down from a boil.
Top the fermenter off with the spring water, bringing the capacity up to the 5 gallon line.
Seal the fermenter using the air lock. Here are instructions for using an air lock:
Step 4: Wait
Wait at least two weeks, most beers will take 10-14 days. In order to check if the fermentation is done, take several hydrometer reading through the fermentation process to check when the specific gravity stops changing.
Step 5: Bottling
Your fermentation has stopped and it is time to bottle!
First, boil the cane sugar included in kit for 7 minutes.
While this is taking place, mix sanitizer in your bottling bucket as directed. Using the bottling bucket, sanitize your bottles by dipping them into the solution. I stored my bottles on a bottling tree. It is also possible to sanitize using the heat cycle of your dishwasher. Sanitize your auto siphon, tube, and bottle caps.
Auto siphon the beer from the fermenter into the bottling bucket. Take care not to suck up the trub (troob) on the bottom of the fermenter.
Your beer is now in your bottling bucket. Get your sanitized bottles and start bottling the beer using the capper! It is suggested to leave an inch to two inches of space in your bottles and cap each bottle individually to avoid contamination.
Don't crank too hard on the capper, or you'll break your bottle!
Place your bottles in a dark area at room temperature for 2-4 weeks.
Step 6: Test (drink) Your Beer
After two weeks, put a tester into the refrigerator for the night. The next day, test your beer. If you approve, then put the rest into the chiller! If not, wait a week. Rinse and repeat.
Congratulations! You brewed a batch of (hopefully) delicious beer!
Does something taste funny? Try looking here to see if you can remedy the situation next time you brew: http://morebeer.com/content/homebrew-off-flavors