If you’re reading this, then chances are pretty good that you, like us, love craft beer!
- You read about new beers coming out.
- You visit breweries.
- Without saying it out loud, you’ve made it your goal to become an unofficial craft beer expert!
We love it!
But have you ever wondered if you could get into the game yourself?
- If you could turn your habit into a hobby?
- If you could turn your nights at the brewery into nights around your kitchen table?
- If you could craft a beautiful flavor of your own?
Well, we think that you can!
In-home brewing can turn even the most novice of beer-lovers into experts. All in the comfort of their own home!
But first, be warned…
In-home brewing is not for the faint of heart!
It’s tedious, it’s time consuming, and it comes with a lot of trial and error (hopefully more trial than error!) But it’s also fun! And when you finally land on the flavor you want, you feel like you can do anything!
There’s a lot of science and mechanics involved in brewing your own craft beer at home. But, you can find a bunch of other blogs that spell out the science for you in more detail.
For today, we’re going to talk about the basics of in-home brewing. This handy little list will be enough to get you on the right path to mastering your own craft beer style. No matter how inexperienced of a brewer you may be, crafting your own brew is still within your reach!
So pull up a chair, read on, and get ready to start brewing!
ONE: Plan Your Process
For starters, in-home brewing can be divided into two types…
- All grain.
Let me explain…
Beer is made using sugars from malted grains. In all grain brewing, the brewer extracts the sugars from the grains themselves.
In other words, it’s hard!
That’s why we’re starting with extract brewing. Here, the home brewer uses ready-made malt extract to skip the sugar extraction process entirely. It’s an easier place to begin for anyone new to home brewing.
The process requires minimal beer equipment and procedures, but still allows you the room to experiment creating quality beer.
TWO: Pick Your Poison
Now the fun part: it’s time to decide what kind of beer you’re going to brew.
This is actually easier than a lot of people make it out to be. You can experiment with your own ideas, or do a little Internet research to find a recipe that suits your taste. You can figure out what tastes you like, what ingredients you need, and just how adventurous you want to be!
THREE: Stock Up On Supplies
Things are about to get Breaking Bad up in here!
The good news is you can buy fully-stocked home brewing kits at most local retailers these days. They include all the basics you need to start brewing your beer. Buying an already-stocked kit takes the guesswork out of the process for beginners.
But for those of you who do want to purchase your own supplies, you basically need the following…
- A brewing bucket
- A bubbler
- A siphon base
To be technically precise, also get…
- A carbon jug
- An auto-siphon
- A bottling tip
- A hydrometer
That’s not all! You’ll also need a large pot (one that can hold about a gallon), a large spoon, and a funnel.
I get that some of the things I just mentioned are repetitive. But I want to make sure that you don’t get in the middle of experimenting, only to discover that you’re missing a key supply! Everybody approaches brewing differently. Far be it from me to stop your mad science!
Overwhelming, isn’t it? Most things that you need should already be in your kitchen. But just in case you’re living that post-college, broke-bachelor, empty-kitchen life, you’ll probably need to do a little shopping!
FOUR: Start Brewing
Regardless of your recipe, most beer making follows the same standard process….
- Start by pouring two gallons of water into a large pot.
- Heat it up to 160 degrees.
- Drop your grains into the water to steep (for about twenty minutes or so).
- Once you’ve steeped, bring your pot to a low boil.
- Add the malt extract and hops.
- Let this boil on low for about an hour (stirring regularly) before dropping the final hops in at the end.
Congratulations! You’ve now created what’s called the “wort.” At this point, you need to cool down the wort to about 70 degrees. You can do this by dunking the pot into a large bucket of ice.
Once cooled, add two to three gallons of filtered water, drop in the yeast, and stir a bit.
Cover it up to let fermentation begin!
FIVE: Be Patient
Now comes the worst part…
Usually you have to let your brew ferment for about two weeks. While you’re waiting, look for bubbles in your brew. Watch it for a minute to see if you can find any bubbles coming through the bubbler.
If you don’t see bubbles, wait another few days and check again. Once you see bubbles, you’re ready to go!
SIX: Finish It Up
Go back to the lab one last time. Add the priming sugar to two cups of boiling water. Boil the two together for a few minutes, then add it to your beer.
If you want to bottle your beer, now’s the time to go for it! However, you need to let it sit for a couple of weeks before you drink it.
If you don’t want to wait, skip the bottling process. Your beer will be ready to serve in just a few days!
SEVEN: Pour One Out
All that hard work pays off now, because it’s time to start drinking! Call your friends, pop the bottles, and pour one out.
Pay attention to what worked and what didn’t for the next time.
Because trust us when we tell you that once you start brewing, you won’t be able to stop!