In this tutorial we talk about everything from start to finish of what you can expect on your brew day. (not bottling)
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Crack open a cold one and lets get started.
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Step 1: Gather Ingredients
Before we start we want to make sure everything was included in our kit. A typical kit will include the following for ingredients:
Grains - Add flavor and color to the over all beer
Muslin Bag - Used as a filter/bag to hold the grains while steeping
Hop Additions - Hops add bitterness, aroma, and flavor to the beer
Liquid/Dry Malt Extract - Extract is where the sugars will come from, which after yeast is added will turn into CO2 and alcohol
Recipe - This should include everything in the kit, equipment needed for the process, general information about the beer, and the hop schedule we will use during the boil
Yeast (not always included in a kit) - our friends that turn the sugary liquid into beer!
Step 2: Make Sure Everything Is Clean/Sanitized
Clean equipment is a must in order to make a good beer. If this is missed at all during the process, there are high chances of off flavors that can come through to the final product. Everything should be cleaned, but everything does not need to be sanitized, but for this tutorial we will keep it safe and recommend sanitizing everything (anything that touches the wort/beer... spoons, boil kettle, fermenter)
PBW - A good product for cleaning equipment (mix according to instructions)
Star San - A good product for sanitizing equipment (mix according to instructions)
Step 3: Prepare Yeast (Smack Pack)
Having healthy yeast is very important when brewing. Yeast that are stressed, or out numbered will produce off flavors in the final beer. Make sure to follow the correct re-hydration steps for your specific brand.
Following the instructions on the back of the packet are as easy as:
When we purchase the yeast they are normally in a dormant stage (chilled and "sleeping"), smacking the pack opens up a container on the inside, and warming it up allows the yeast to come alive... or wake up. The pack will start to swell as the yeast inside start to consume the pack and produce a small amount of CO2.
Step 4: Prepare for "Mash"
Mashing is the step where we will turn starches into sugars and extract all the colors and flavors from our grains. Since we are doing an extract kit, the grains we will be working with will give us more color and flavor than sugars for fermentation.
The water we used came from our city filtered through a charcoal filter. Basic thought is if you have good drinking water you can make beer with it. If your water is terrible and you decide not to use it, you can pick up a few gallons of drinking water from your local grocery store.
For a Full Boil you will need to warm up 6.5 gallons of water to 160 degrees.
For a Partial Boil you will want to fit as much as you can in your boil kettle knowing you need to add grains, (the remaining water can be added before we pitch the yeast to get a full 5 gallons) This water will also be heated to 160 degrees.
Step 5: Prepare Grains and Mash
Putting your bag of grains into you muslin bag and allowing them to soak in your kettle @ 150-160 degrees is most ideal. Make sure to remove the grains from the bottom of the pot if reheating is needed making sure not to scorch the grains while doing so. Once grains are immersed in the warm water, start a timer for 30 minutes, sit back and have a beer.
Step 6: Adding Extract
Once the 30 minutes has passed, we removed the bag of grains from the wort, rinsing the grains with a few cups of water. Before we apply heat to the kettle, we want to make sure we stir in all of our extract. Extract is the ingredient that will give us the most sugars for this process while also adding some base color and base flavors.
Step 7: Boil
The boil is the step we are able to add the hops to the beer, which will either add bitterness, aroma, and/or flavors.
There are a variety of hops and each one does something slightly different.
The way the hop schedule works during the boil goes something like this:
- Start heating after all extract is added to start a boil
- Wort starts to boil (This is where you will start your 60 minute timer and add your hop addition if it calls for one at 60 minutes)
-Time will start to count down, and you will add hops according to the recipe. (There can be as little as 1 addition and up to as many as the creator likes)
- Once the timer reaches 0 you will turn your flame off and start your cooling process.
If you are looking at your recipe and you have hop additions before the 15 minute mark (60-15 minutes) these are considered bittering additions. Anything after 15 minutes will be more for flavor and aroma.
During the Boil we will be doing a few things:
- evaporating excess water to get to our target batch size
- sterilizing the liquid removing any wild bacteria
- adding out hops according to the hop schedule
Step 8: Chill
Step 8 is to chill our wort as quickly as possible. This may be done a few different ways:
- Immersion Chiller - Normally a coil that will be placed into the kettle that will have cold water running through it.
- Plate Chiller - Requiring a pump to move wort through the plates, will also use cold water on opposite sides of the plates to chill wort
- Ice Bath - Simply taking your kettle and moving it to a bath or sink with cold water and ice surrounding it.
Ideally you want your wort to be below 70*F in order to move to the next step (pitching yeast)
Step 9: Ferment and Pitch Yeast
By this time your yeast should be ready to go and your wort should be cooled. Moving it to our fermentation vessel, and pitching the yeast officially makes this beer. But don't start drinking it just yet. Fermentation needs to happen for about 2 weeks. Make sure to keep the fermenter in a temperature controlled environment (68-75 degrees F).