Contrary to popular belief, even the most rugged and manly men aren’t born knowing how to brew beer (we just wish we were). It’s a skill that gets passed down for generations in families and eventually finds its way to you. Or, if your family prefers to drink sparkling water and engages in more “productive” hobbies, you’re SOL. Just kidding… you just have to seek the truth on your own through a search engine and good friends.
We are usually very busy and don’t get a chance to perform any kind of community service, so we are considering this blog entry about how to home brew as our contribution to society. You’re welcome.
Luckily, many companies have realized that brewing your own beer is the best thing ever and they sell brewing kits to get you started. Prices and sizes vary, so it’s really up to you on how much you want to spend and how complicated you want to get. Basic equipment you’re going to need includes things like a boiling pot that can hold at least 3 gallons, a fermenter (aka, a giant plastic bucket) with an airlock to prevent contamination, a siphon with a bottle filler, bottle caps and a bottle capper, bottles, a big stirring spoon, a bottle brush and a thermometer.
There are obviously a ton of different beer flavors out there, but you really need four basic ingredients to begin with: water, yeast, hops and fermented sugar.
Water: If you have some funky tap water where you live, do not use that crap for your beer because that is what your beer is going to taste like… crap. Go buy good bottled water to use, or at least boil (and cool) your tap water to get some of the garbage out.
Yeast: Don’t steal your girlfriend’s bread yeast for this – you need legit beer brewing yeast.
Hops: These babies are going to balance out the beer’s sweetness with their bitterness. They also help prevent the beer from spoiling.
Fermented Sugar: If you’re brand new to home brewing, don’t try to get gangster and malt your grain from scratch. It’s really hard to do and it’s something you should try further down the road when you actually know a thing or two. Just buy malt syrup or malt extract and that will be perfect for the sugar component right now.
Doing the Deed:
Once you’ve got everything you need, what you do next will vary upon what kind of beer you’re planning to make. We’re just going to give general instructions, so feel free to do a little more research before you get started.
Boil the malt extract and hops together with water for about an hour.
After the hour is up, cool the mix to room temperature and siphon it into a fermenter. Combine it with more water to get it up to the 3-5 gallon size.
Add the yeast to begin the fermentation process and use the airlock to keep that fermenter sealed tight. You don’t want any gross bacteria getting in there while it ferments for the next week or two.
After the beer is done fermenting, siphon it into another container for bottling. You can mix in priming sugars like corn sugar.
Bottle the beer and cap the bottles. Now, you’re going to wait some more. The beer needs to sit and age for 2-6 weeks. In general, it will probably take a few months to taste it’s absolute best.
Wrap it Up:
Congrats – you’ve made your first beer. Make sure you think of a rad name for your brew and if you’re feeling especially industrious, make your own labels.