It’s Beer Making Time! Regardless of whether you’re a brand new newbie to making beer at home or a seasoned veteran of cranking out brews using the ol’ can of goo AKA the beer kits; learning how to make beer at home without a kit is not as difficult as you might think, and something you can learn to do quite easily.
In fact, I have taught many people with no brewing experience at all how to make great tasting all grain beer without a kit in as little as a couple of hours. And their beer turned out very well if I do say so myself!
So with that said… my goal in this post is to help you do the exact same thing. I want to give you all the information you require to get started making your own batch of beer from scratch.
So let’s get right at it, there’s beer to be brewed!
Table of Contents
We Are Really Talking About All Grain Brewing
Ok first things first, when you brew beer using a kit in essence what you are doing is using ingredients that have already undergone some of the brewing process.
Whereas with All Grain Brewing you will be handling all the steps of the brewing process on your own. (again it’s not as difficult as you might imagine, and is actually quite fun).
In a kit as you probably know you get a can of malt extract. Otherwise known by Big Robb as the Can of Goo! (click here to see my favorite beer kits)
You then add water to the can of goo and this creates the wort (beer that is not yet fermented).
This is the big difference between using a kit to make beer verses All Grain brewing. When you start making beer on your own without the kit you will be making your own wort from actual grains verses using the can of malt extract.
The can of malt extract was at one time grains. I know I know, Mind Freaking Blown!!
Whereas with all grain brewing you are creating the wort yourself from grains. You get to control the whole process.
By adjusting the quantity and type of grains you use you can adjust the alcohol level (ABV), the color, taste, mouthfeel, head retention, etc. Basically you have much more freedom to be able to develop the beer into exactly what you would like it to be.
I always like to explain to people who want would like to learn how to brew all grain beer that doing so is very much like making tea. You put the tea bag into hot water, let it soak aka steep and the water removes all the goodness from the tea bag resulting in tea.
The same principle applies with making beer without a kit.
We add the grains to the hot water and the hot water removes all the goodness we need to make beer from the grains. We then remove the liquid from the grains and basically you now have the exact same result as you did when you added water to the kits’ can of goo (malt extract), i.e. Wort!
Sound complicated? Its really not, read on and I will show you how simple this process is.
Different Methods to Make Beer Without a Kit
There are different brewing methods that people use to make all grain beer. Most of the differences between the methods come down to how many vessels (kettles/pots) you will use in the brewing process.
For example some people will use 3 vessels during brewing, others will use 2 vessels and still others will only use 1 vessel. All 3 methods result in good beer, the main difference is in the ease of use and cost of the equipment.
I have used all 3 of these methods and to this day I prefer using 1 vessel or kettle, simply because its easier, quicker, less expensive and above all else there is less clean up at the end of the brew day is involved! 🙂
In this post I an going to give you a high elevated overview of the process of making beer with a 1 vessel system. You can also find other posts and videos on this blog to help you master brewing using a 1 vessel system.
Brewing on a 1 vessel system is referred to as Brew in a Bag or BIAB for short. The Australians developed this method of brewing and in my opinion they deserve a noble peace prize in brewing for doing so.
This method is incredibly simple, cost effective and has evened the playing field when it comes to brewing. For the most part all others methods of brewing all grain beer are much more complicated and costly and as a result most people who wanted to brew beer would shy away from doing.
With BIAB brewing anyone can afford to get into this hobby, and the beer that this method of brewing produces is as a good or even better then the other methods of brewing. Its a win win my friend.
We will look into this method further in this post, however here are a few other posts on this site that you can look at as well to help you get started with BIAB:
Brewing Equipment You Will Need
Since you are most likely already brewing beer using a kit you will actually already have most of the equipment you will need.
If you have never made beer with a kit before and are looking to jump right into All Grain Brewing I am actually going to recommend that you brew a few batches of beer using a beer kit first. This will get your feet wet and teach you the basics of brewing and it will also get you started collecting the basic brewing equipment you will need.
To learn how to make great beer from a kit as well as the basic equipment you will need to get started check out this post => How to Brew Beer From a Kit
Ok let’s now look at the additional pieces of equipment you will require to brew an all grain beer using the Brew in a Bag Method:
- A large enough kettle to brew a 5 – 10 gallon batch of beer. I recommend you get a least a 15 gallon kettle to start. It might get a little tight in the kettle if you are making 10 gallon batches of beer, but it will easily handle a 5 gallon batch
- A propane burner. You will be brewing beer outside if you follow this method exactly; so just a simple outdoor propane burner capable of bringing 7- 15 gallons of water to a boil will work great.
- A brew bag. I will explain what this is for further in this post.
And that is all the extra equipment required to make beer without a kit.
I have put together a post showing all of the above pieces of equipment that I recommend you pick up and where to get them.
You can get all of your equipment here => Equipment for Brew in a Bag
What Beer Are You Making?
After you have all of your equipment… the next step to learning how to make beer at home without a kit is deciding what beer you are actually going to make.
Just like baking a cake, you need a recipe.
There are lots of places to find recipes, books, the internet, YouTube, etc. As you get good at making beer you will even start coming up with your own recipes.
But when you are starting out what I recommend is that you pick up an All Grain kit.
Whoa big Guy, hold up a minute Big Robb I thought you were teaching us how to make beer without a kit?
Relax my friend I am, the kit I am referring to is not the Can of Goo kit.
Instead what some beer equipment/supply companies have done is packaged up all of the ingredients such as grains, hops, and yeast as well as the recipe instructions that you will need to get started with all grain brewing.
So instead of sourcing everything out on your own, such as the type and amount of grains you need, the type and amount of hops you will need, they have done it all for you.
And as indicated they provide you with the recipe! So all you do is pick which type of beer you want to make and order up the all grain kit for it and its all there for you. Very cool!
Plus if you really like the beer recipe, you do not need to order the kit again, just order the ingredients that came with it!
To this day some of the best beer I brew comes from the recipes that came with all grain beer kits I ordered when I was first starting out. Its a great way to learn and get started with this type of brewing.
A great place I have found to get kits is from Adventures in Homebrewing. That link will take you to a review of them I did.
Also I have listed a bunch of my favorite recipes here => All Grain Brewing Recipes
How To Brew Up The Recipe
OK you have your equipment, your recipe and the ingredients now what the heck do you do?
Its time to brew baby!
The process may seem daunting at first but it really is a straight forward simple process to brew all grain beer so take your time, relax and just have fun with it, its beer after all!
So remember my example of making tea?
Again that is basically what you are doing here…
The recipe you purchase will give you the exact details you need to follow, such as temperature to heat the water, etc.
Here is the basic 4 step process:
Step #1: Fill up your kettle with water, in most cases if you are brewing a 5 gallon batch of beer you will want to fill your kettle up with around 7- 8 gallons of water to start.
You will lose water to evaporation and absorption from the grains. Typically you will lose about 2-3 gallons depending on your brewing system. You will get to know the exact amounts of starting water you will require as you get use to your system and its boil off rate etc.
If you start with 7-8 gallons you should be fine. If you end up at the end of the brew day with 6 gallons of finished beer instead of 5 well then you know next time not start with quite so much water, and the opposite holds true as well, that being if you end up with less beer at the end, say 4 gallons then you know that next time you will need to start with more water.
Step #2: Heat up your water. Your recipe will tell you what temperature to mash in at. Mashing in is when you add the grains to the hot water. ust like adding the tea bag to hot water when making tea. So heat the water up to the mash in temperature your recipe calls for.
Step #3: Mash in, which means adding the grains to the water you just heated up. Using the single vessel method this is where the brew in the bag comes in handy. Place it in the kettle, drape the edges the bag over the edges of the kettle so that the bag lines the inside of the kettle. Add the grains slowly to the bag that is now in the kettle, be sure to stir the grains well so that you do not get any dough balls (grains clumping together).
Step #4: The Mash. Now you leave the grains soaking in the hot water for as long as your recipe calls for (typically 60 – 90 mintues).
You will want to keep the water as close to the temperature called for in the recipe as possible. This may involve having to turn your burner back on for a bit, or insulating the exterior of your kettle. (wrap a sleeping bag around it works just fine, told you this is easy!)
Step #5: Remove the Grain Bag. Now that the mash is over, simply remove the grain bag from the kettle, dispose of the grains, you will not need them any more. You now have a kettle filled with just wort!
Step #6: Boil the wort. Crank up that burner baby and boil’er up! Boil for as long as the recipe calls for, also typically 60 – 90 minutes.
Step #7: Add your Hop additions. Just follow the instructions on the recipe for when to add the hops.
Instead of just dumping the hops into the kettle, I prefer to use a hop bag, I place the hops in the bag and put it into the boil. This helps make beer that is clearer.
Step #8: Chill the Wort. After the beer is done boiling, it is time to chill it down as quick as possible. This means lowering the temperature in order to add the yeast. Starting out you can do a simple ice bath, which is exactly as it sounds. Fill up your bath tub with ice water and place your kettle in the cold water to cool it down.
Here is another post that will help you with this => All Grain Brewing Instructions – Make Great Beer Every Time
And that is it!
You just made brewed your first batch of beer without a kit! The next steps are the same as making beer with the kit. Add the chilled wort to the fermenter, pitch your yeast and let’er ferment!
If you have not checked out the following post I recommend you do, it is a complete guide to making home brew and will cover all of the topics you need to make good beer => How to Homebrew – The Complete Guide
I trust you enjoyed this overview of how to make beer at home without a kit. It is not that complicated and it si a ton of fun. Check out the other posts I have linked to on this blog and you will be up and running making great beer in no time.
If you have any questions I can answer for you feel free to post them in the comments below and I will be sure to respond!
Cheers & Get Y’er Brew Awwnnn