So you want to learn how to make homemade beer? Great decision in my books and welcome to the greatest hobby on earth.
I have been making beer from home for over 17 years now and it has been quite a journey to say the least…
In fact this journey has taken me from making a few batches of beers from a kit, to starting this blog that shows people how to make beer, to actually opening my own craft beer microbrewery and brew pub.
So yup it has been quite a ride…
But enough about me, let’s get you making some beer.
Today I am going to share with you an intermediate method of brewing beer. This method is a step up from just brewing a batch from a beer kit and a step down from brewing a batch from scratch using only grains.
If you would prefer to brew your first batch from a kit you can learn to do so here on this post:
If you want to jump right into brewing from scratch using only grains, hops and yeast you can do so here:
Aright let’s get our brew awwnn…
Equipment You Will Need
If all you want to do is make some beer to drink in one or two sittings with a bunch of buddies the equipment you are going to require is very basic:
- Air lock
- Transfer hose
- Bottles or a Keg
You can order a kit that come with everything you need from our preferred vendors if you are so inclined here!
After you have finished actually brewing the beer you will transfer it to the fermenter where it will ferment for about 10 – 14 days on average.
All that is basically involved with that is after adding the beer to the fermenter you sprinkle in the yeast and then put the cover on and place the air lock in the hole on top, fill the air lock with some water and let it sit.
After a day or two you will notice gas starting to bubble out of the air lock, this means the yeast is going to work making alcohol.
When the beer has finished fermenting you will transfer it to the bottles or keg where you will carbonate it with either priming sugar (bottles) or co2 (keg).
Beer in bottles will be fully carbonated in 14 days whereas beer in a keg will be carbonated in anywhere from 12 hours to 5 days depending how much gas you put to it.
The following equipment is optional and you can use it if you want to but it is not needed.
Glass Carboy – You have probably seen the big glass jugs many people use to make beer and homemade wine. This is called a carboy.
Some people will transfer the beer from the fermenter into the carboy after 4 – 5 days and let it finish fermenting and conditioning in the carboy.
This is called secondary fermentation. The reason they do this is they believe it makes for a clearer and cleaner beer.
I have not found this to be the case and there is concern that when you transfer it between the fermenter to the carboy you risk letting bacteria get in and ruining your beer.
Never a good thing to have happen!
Auto-Siphon and Bottling Wand – The auto-siphon makes it easier to transfer your beer between vessels, one pump and off you go.
The bottling wand makes it much easier to bottle your beer. It has a little tip on the end of it that when compressed up against the bottom of the bottle it allows the homebrew to flow into the bottle.
It is a lot lesser messier way of bottling.
A Hydrometer – This is a glass tool that looks like it came straight out of chemistry glass.
It is an important tool to have when brewing.
It tells you if you followed the recipe correctly, it tells you when the beer has finished fermenting and it allows you to calculate the alcohol content of ABV of the finished brew.
I definitely recommend you have one of these. You can get one here.
Pretty much everything else you will need you most likely already have in your kitchen such as:
A Large Kettle or Pot – A big ol’ stew pot will work. It should be able to hold about 4 – 5 gallons of liquid.
Mash Paddle – You will also need a big spoon, which when you are brewing is referred to as a Mash Paddle.
Thermometer – And it is handy to have a thermometer. A digital one for cooking works great.
You can order the Mash Paddle and Thermometer here.
Sanitizer – And lastly you will need to pick up a sanitizer to make sure your equipment is all sanitized prior to use.
I only ever recommend one sanitizer. It’s a no-rinse sanitizer called Star San. You can pick some up here!
Time to Brew
OK let’s get into actually making the beer.
For your first couple of batches I actually recommend you pick up what is called a partial mash beer kit.
These kits come with:
- the recipe,
- step by step instructions,
- all of the ingredients (malt extract, specialty grains, priming sugar and yeast)
- as well as bottle caps
- and a steeping bag which is very similar to a tea bag, the grains go into it and you soak it in hot water to get the good stuff out of the grains.
The best partial mash kits on the market are by far the Brewers Best Kits. You can check them out by clicking here!
As you get experience you can use the same recipe from these kits but pick up the ingredients instead of buying the kit.
And of course you can also experiment and come up with your own variations of the recipe which is part of the fun of making homemade beer.
The 3 Steps to Making Homemade Beer
Step 1 – Steep the Grains
The recipe and instructions that come with the Brewer’s Best kits will be very straight forward and simple to follow. And most recipes will typically follow the same process.
You will start out heating about 2 – 3 gallons of water in the kettle. You will want to bring it up to about 160 degrees F.
You will then pour the grains into the steeping bag, tie a knot in the bag and place bag in the water and let it soak for about twenty minutes.
As I explained this is very similar to how you make tea. When you place the tea bag into hot water the goodness comes out of the tea bag and into your kettle.
Same thing with steeping grains, it releases all of the goodness into the kettle. These grains are called specialty grains and they add color, flavor and body to your beer.
Step 2 – Add the Malt
After the twenty minutes of steeping the grains is done you will now turn up the heat on the kettle and bring it to a low rolling boil.
Once the boil has been reached you will add the malt extract to the kettle.
Your recipe will tell you when to add the hops, however typically bittering hops will be added at this point as well. The boil will typically last for one hour.
Make sure you stir on a regular basis as the malt can scorch and burn on the bottom of the kettle.
As you get close to the end of the boil the recipe will call for you to add more hops.
Now I typically like to add my hops to the kettle by putting them into a steeping bag like you did with the specialty grains. You can use the same one as long as you have given it a good rinse after the removing the spent grains.
Placing the hops in the steeping bag makes for a clearer beer.
Step 3 – Cool Your Wort
The mixture you have in your kettle is now called wort, which is basically unfermented beer. Before you add the wort to the fermenter you need to cool it down to about 65 – 70 degrees F.
Simply fill up your sink with ice and water and place the kettle into it, adding more ice to water as needed.
Once the correct temperature has been reached pour the wort into your fermenter.
Now you will top up the fermenter with luke warm water. The recipe will tell you what the final liquid volume level should be in the fermenter, so top up the fermenter to that level.
Now you can give the mixture a good stir and sprinkle the yeast in on top.
Now put the cover on the fermenter and put the airlock in place (remember to fill the airlock up with water or a mixture of star san and water).
Time to Ferment
Now put the fermenter away somewhere in your home that you can maintain the temperature between 60 – 70 degree F.
Within 24 – 48 hours you will start to see some activity happening in the bucket and the airlock.
Wait 10 – 14 days for the beer to finish fermenting.
Bottling or Kegging
If you are going to bottle all you need to do is first make sure the bottles are clean and sanitized.
Then what I recommend you do is put what is called carbonation drops into each bottle.
This is the simplest and best method to carbonate beer in a bottle. Then simply siphon the beer into the bottles and put the caps on them.
You can learn more about bottling here:
When it comes to kegging first make sure the keg is clean and sanitized.
Then give it a blast of co2 to get the oxygen out.
Next fill the keg with your beer, put the lid on and then purge the keg of any remaining oxygen by connecting the gas and purging the gas a few times.
Now simply connect the keg back to the co2 and let it carbonate the beer.
You can learn more about kegging here:
Enjoying Your Beer Time
And of course the last step is to invite all of your friends over to sample and enjoy your beer.
There you have it my friend you now know how to make homemade beer. It is a ton of fun and the best part is the end result is beer!
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask me in the comment section below, I will be sure to help you out as best I can.
Cheers & Brew Awwnn!
P.S. As I mentioned I have been brewing for over 17 years and in that time I have learned a ton of tips and tricks that I want to share with you to help you brew the best beer possible. In fact I have 29 Tips & Tricks I want to share with you right now. Sign up on the side of the blog to get all 29 for Free!