How to Brew Craft Beer – 3 Ways to Get Started

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Craft Beer mmmmm…

Obviously you are a bang on top-notch kind of person… in my books anyone who is looking into how to brew craft beer certainly is…

If you are just looking into or getting started brewing welcome to the club… I’ve been making craft beer… aka Homebrew for over 16 years now and it has been quite an adventure to say the least…

Did you notice that I said homebrew and not craft beer??

Some people think in their heads (I do realize that is usually where people think) that Craft Beer is something above and  beyond homebrew… it actually is not… homebrew is craft beer and craft beer is homebrew… the process for making craft beer is the exact same for making all grain homebrew… just on a larger scale obviously.

I actually went from brewing one 5 gallon keg per batch at my home to brewing 2 bbls (12 kegs) in my own brew pub using the exact same process (for the most part)…

So in this post I’m going to go into the process of how you can get started brewing some great beer…  Pin

There are different entry points into this hobby… meaning there are different levels of complexity you can choose to use to make beer at home:

  • a beginning stage…
  • an intermediate stage…
  • and advanced stage…

In this post we will discuss all 3 and provide you with resources to get started in which ever stage you wish to begin at.

The choice will be yours… me personally I started at stage 1 and moved to stage 2 before hitting stage 3… I’ve done it all… but you don’t have to start at stage 1… you can start at stage 2 or 3… it’s up to you and how much you want to spend to get started and how fast you want to learn all that is involved.

Making craft beer is not hard… there is just a lot to it when you are first starting out… so starting at stage 1 and slowly moving up to the more advanced stage 3 made sense to me… but again the choice is yours…

Let’s get to it….

Stage 1: Home Brew Kit

Most people start making beer by using the home brew kits…

We have all seen these kits… they are basically a can filled with malt extract… looks like molasses… and smells great!

Basically the companies who sell these beer kits have done 95% of the brewing for you already… they brewed the beer up until just about where they would add yeast to ferment…

… at the point they would have stopped they would have produced about 7 gallons of what is referred to as “wort… wort is basically beer before it is fermented… (they leave the fermenting up to you)…

…so they than take this 7 gallons or so of unfermented beer (wort) and they remove most of the liquid from it… resulting in the syrupy mixture you find in the beer kit can…

I refer to these beer kits as the Ol’ Can of Goo…

This method of making beer is by far the simplest method… I will warn you that that is does not make the best beer in the world by any means… and in fact most people quit trying to make craft beer after they brew a batch using a beer kit…

Why? Because as I said brewing this way does not make the best tasting beer… so people say forget this and they quit.

Now here is the truth of the matter… and it took me awhile to figure this out myself…

I was like most people… I quit after my first batch as the beer was simply nasty… BUT I am stubborn… I knew other people were making good beer from home so I came back to brewing and tried again and again and again…

What I discovered is that making beer from a kit requires patience… something I typically do not possess…

IF you make this beer AND (this is a big AND)… if after bottling it you can muster up some patience and not want to drink it right away (harder than it sounds)… put the beer bottles away for at least 1 month to age (condition), even longer if you can do it… 4 months would be ideal…

IF you can do this the beer ages and actually turns out pretty good… I’ve had store purchased beer that was nowhere near as good as the beer kit beers AFTER they have aged…

So… If you figure you can be a patient person than you may turn out loving this method of making beer and never move onto any of the others…

Making beer from a beer kit as many advantages:

Easy! It is a very easy way to make beer.

  1. Time Savings… it takes 30 minutes tops to make beer this way, vs the 6-8 hours it takes to brew at the advanced stage.
  2. Fraction of the price… The equipment you need is a fraction of the price compared to the advanced stage equipment. The ingredients you need also cost less also.
  3. Great Starting Point… as I said I started brewing this way and moved to the intermediate level and than onto the advanced. Doing this allowed me to learn how to brew properly from the start. Everything you learn brewing from a kit you will need to know to brew at the intermediate level and the advanced level. So it’s a great way to start learning what is involved in making craft beer.
  4. Brewing Equipment… Brewing equipment at the advanced level can start to get pricey. BUT the equipment you use when you brew from a kit you will also use when you move to the advanced level. At this level you will need a fermenter, beer bottles, a mash paddle, and hydrometer… you will also use these at the advanced level and more… so starting brewing using beer kits allows you only have to buy “some” of the equipment you will eventually need… so it saves you money starting out while you learn… which is always a good thing!

So… if you want to start brewing with kits the following are resources you can check out:

Here is a post where I show you how to brew using a kit => Get Started Brewing Beer

Here is a review of the equipment I HIGHLY recommend you use to start brewing => Coopers Homebrew Kit Review

Stage 2: Partial Mash Brewing

Alright… where stage 1 is really basic… stage 2 starts to up your brewing game a bit (still very easy) and is where you will now start to actually learn a bit more of the process of how to brew craft beer.

The beer you produce here is a very noticeable improvement from the beer made in stage 1. I very much enjoy the partial mash beers I have made. You can but you do not need to age or condition these beers as much as you do the beers made from the can of goo beer kits.

Tip For You: All beers except IPA’s and some APA’s do taste better with age. If you can let a beer age for at least a beer hops hanging on vinePinmonth you will always like it’s taste better.

In this step you will start to use ingredients that brewers use… in particularly specialty grains and hops.

So what happens here is that instead of brewing with the ol’ can of goo you will follow a recipe and use individual ingredients to include:

=> Specialty Grains… To simplify things for you… I group all the grains you would ever use into two groups. Base grains and specialty grains. With this type of brewing, you will use specialty grains. They give the beer it’s color and some of it’s flavor.

=> Liquid or Dry Malt Extract… You will No Longer be using the Ol’ can of Goo… which is basically liquid malt extract that has hops already added to it. Instead you are going to use Liquid or Dry Malt Extract.

=> Hops… You will now be adding hops to the brewing process. Which is a major step towards learning how to become an advanced brewer that we cover in the advanced brewing stage.

Partial Mash Beer Kit

What I highly recommend is that you get yourself a partial mash beer kit… these kits come with everything you need to make beer:

– A Recipe! These kits come with the exact step by step instructions on how to make the beer. This saves you from running around trying to find a partial mash beer recipe. I have brewed many of these kits and I have held onto a lot of the recipes as they made very nice brews.

– Ingredients… they come with all the ingredients you need… the grains, hops, yeast, dry or liquid malt extract… so instead of running around trying to source out the individual ingredients yourself they come with everything. And the price is the same as if you purchased the ingredients on your own. Kinda what my Dad would call a “No Brainer”

The kits I recommend are kits made by Brewers Best. Adventures in HomeBrewing carry them.

You can check out my Adventures in Homebrewing Review for more information.

The brewers best beer kits do come with full instructions and they are simple to follow and also tell you what equipment you require… so if you pick one up you will be all set… however the following is an older video of mine where I brew one of their kits if you want to see the process in advance.

I will warn you when I first started doing videos I was very much of a maniac and think I was drunk through most of them… the information is solid but the presentation can be a bit over the top… I have calmed down in recent years! haha…

If you are brave here is the link the video:

How to Make HomeBrew IPA

All Grain Brewing

OK here is where you really want to get with your brewing if you are serious about learning how to brew craft beer… grains coming out of millPin

When you go to a micro brewery or buy craft beer in the liquor store it is the same as an all grain home-brewed beer.

You no longer use malt extract… definitely not any cans of goo… all the beer is made from scratch.

There are different methods and ways to brew all grain beer and it all comes down the equipment you wish to brew on.

Personally I am a brew in a bag fan… or their electric counter parts all-in-one brewing systems.

The reason is that it is the simplest system to brew on… least expensive… easiest to clean… easiest to store… all grain brewing method by far!

And it makes just as good or better beer than the other more expensive and time-consuming methods available to you.

Instead of getting into a long detailed overview of how to make all grain beer on this post… I am going to point you to the following post that gives you everything you need to start brewing some very tasty all grain beer.

If you wish to learn more about this way of brewing check out this post: What is Brew in a Bag ?

Get Brewing My Friend

Alright there you have it my brewing amigo… now you know the secrets of how to brew craft beer…

…so pick a brewing method from the one’s listed above and get at it.

Give yourself time to learn… again brewing beer is not hard, anyone can do it… but it does take some time to figure it all out. So go easy on yourself!

If I can be of any help put a comment in below and I will be sure to respond to you.

Cheers!

Big Robb is out!

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