Making a Beer at Home – The 3 Main Methods

In my opinion there is nothing more cool then Making a Beer at Home; alright maybe there are one or two things more cool but there is no question that making your own beer ranks right up there as pretty cool things to know how to do.

Having beer you made yourself on tap and being able to share it with friends and family who drop by is pretty a picture of a hand holding half a glass of beer up in the airbadass.

I brewed my first batch of homebrew back in 2003.  Although it was a ton of fun to make, I will admit the beer tasted like shite.

A lot has changed since then to now…

  • I figured out how to make great tasting beer,
  • I started my own micro brewery
  • I’ve been helping people learn how to make beer on this blog and my youtube channel for years now.

It has been quite a journey to say the least…

Learn From My Beer Making Mistakes

Part of the reason for this blog is to help people circumvent the mistakes and time it took me to go from making crap beer to good beer.

When you boil it all down to its core, there are really 3 main methods of making beer.

Yes there are different techniques you could use with each of these but in the end you are either making:

Extract Beer Kits – Typically pre-hopped liquid malt extract, which comes in a can that I lovingly refer to as a “Can of Goo”.  Basically you just dump the contents of the can into your fermenter, add some water, dump in the yeast and bob’s your uncle.  Quick and Easy!

Partial Mash Homebrew – Brewing this beer you will continue to use liquid or dry malt extract; but now you will start to include grains into the process to provide more body, texture, flavor, color, etc.  The grains you use at this stage are referred to as specialty grains.

All Grain Brewing – This is where the big boys play.  All of the breweries make their beer with this method.  And it is exactly as it sounds.  Your beer is made from grain, no malt extract (all though you can add some if you like).   Out of all 3 of the methods this makes for the best tasting beer.

Where Should You Start?

That is an interesting question because I used to answer it by saying you should start at the beginning.

Meaning make some extract kit beer, then move onto partial mash and then finally to all grain brewing.

There are 2 reasons I used to say this:

1) Because it was what I did and of course Big Robb would think what he did was the right way and the way everyone should do it.

2) The 2nd reason and a much more important reason was that by starting at the beginning you learn all of the brewing processes as you go, instead of trying to learn it all at once which is what you will have to do if you start with all grain brewing.

What I mean is when you start with extract kit brewing you will learn about sanitation, fermenting, conditioning, bottling, etc.

Then when you have brewed a few batches you can move onto partial mash which you will then learn about specialty grains, steeping grains, and adding hops.

Then finally you can put it all together when you move to all grain brewing.

Making a Beer At Home Is Not Hard

Making a beer is not hard, but there are steps involved, and there is quite a bit to the process.  It is not like making wine, which is much easier.  There is more to it.  So when you take it slow and learn a few steps at a time I find it is easier to learn and to get good at it.

On top of that brewing equipment costs money…

By going through the 3 stages I just outlined you can slowly pick up the gear you are going to need.  Each piece of gear you pick up for each stage you will continue to use at the next stage.

Meaning the gear you buy for making an extract beer kit, you are going to use for partial mash brewing and also for all grain.

By starting at the beginning you are able to slowly spend your money on equipment and learn the processes involved in homebrewing as you go, instead of all at once.

Some Homebrewers Do Start With All Grain Brewing

So like I said I used to believe that people should start with making a few batches of malt extract and I still do for the most part.  It just makes sense.

However over recent years I have run into many homebrewers who have started with all grain brewing.

They have never made a beer from a can of goo, which in my opinion is a complete shame as everyone should have that experience.  (Sarcasm).

And surprisingly these homebrewers make really good beer.

In the end it is really up to you where you want to start.  If you have the money, time and patience to jump directly into all grain brewing go for it.

If you want to start slower and work your way up, then brew a couple of liquid malt extract kits.

I have guides on this site to show you each of the steps.

You can check them out here:

Learn how to make good beer from a can of goo

Learn how to do partial mash brewing here

Learn all about all grain brewing here

BIAB or All In One Brewing 

One last piece of advice I will give you is that when you decide it is time to get into all grain homebrewing that you do either BIAB which stands for Brew in a Bag or use an All-In-One Brewing system.

They are basically the same thing, except BIAB you would perform outdoors as you are using a propane burner and the All-In-One systems are electric so you can use them inside.

The reason I recommend these two methods:

  • They are the least expensive ways of making an all grain beer.
  • They require less equipment.
  • They are less complicated.
  • Cleaning up takes a fraction of the time.
  • The equipment required takes up a fraction of the space as other methods.
  • And they make just as good or better of a beer then the other all grain homebrewing methods.

BIAB is the first method I used when I started making all grain beer.  I then transitioned into using the All-In-One systems simply because I live in Canada and it gets pretty cold in the winter time, so I would rather brew indoors during the cold months.

But again the principles are the same with these two methods.  BIAB is a fraction less expensive to get started with than the All-in-one systems.

You can learn about both of these methods on these posts here:

Learn about the BIAB systems here

Learn about the all-in-one systems here

Get Your Brew On

And there you have it my friend.  You now understand the basics of making a beer at home.  I welcome you to the hobby, it is a great hobby, a ton of fun and so much better than collecting stamps.

If you have any questions at all let me know in the comment section below and I will be sure to help you out.

I would also recommend that you sign up to both my Free Brewing Report on the side of the blog and learn all of my tips and tricks to make a good beer every time.  Learning these tips will save you a ton of headache.  Learn from my mistakes!

The sign up for the report is on the side of the blog.

Cheers and get your Brew Awwnnn!

Big Robb

Big Robb with a pint of home brewed beerP.S.  If you are going to get into all grain brewing, I am giving away my top 5 all time favorite recipes, the link to get them is on the side of the blog.  They were some of the best sellers at my pub as well.  Try them out and let me know what you think.  Cheers

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9 thoughts on “Making a Beer at Home – The 3 Main Methods”

  1. We’ve always wanted to try to make our own beer and see how it turned out, how does it turn out the first time real dark? The darker the better to some people, we are light people and need a light beer. This topic is great to follow if you want to learn how to make your own beer. The beer we would try would be the grain kind and making it will be even more interesting to us and an experiment.
    Thanks for this we are going to save this recipe for a later date though.

    Cheers,
    Mathew&Deloris

    Reply
  2. Hey,

    This article couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re in full lockdown here in the UK, so our pubs are all closed and our off licences are being closed too. We can buy beer from the supermarkets but it is always out. We can’t order home delivery beer either, so as you can imagine people are getting frustrated with it. What we are finding aswell is that alcohol intake in this country has increased, which isn’t good.

    But, for me, I don’t drink very often and I could do with a beer this weekend. So, I am going to use your article to help me try and brew my own beer. I will let you know how I get on and if I can do it ok.

    Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work.

    All the best,

    Tom

    Reply
    • Good luck Tom, happy to help, although I’m afraid the batch is not going to be ready for this weekend. Perhaps next, but more like 2 – 3 weeks from now. Cheers and stay safe.

      Reply
  3. Awesome post, Robb! I like the idea of brewing your own beer, but I’ve never done any research on how to do it the right way, until now. So thanks again for sharing your experience and knowledge.

    I agree with you, as a dude, brewing your own beer is one of the top 3 coolest things you can do at home 😀 And this lockdown situation is perfect for starting my own micro-brewery. Cheers!

    Reply
  4. Yo Big Robb,

    I think I’m here for 2 reasons.

    Firstly, I’ve decided to do Dry January. I’m going well as I’m 2 weeks in, but I still feel the need to look at photos and videos of beer, LOL.

    Secondly, you’ve reminded me of my one and only attempt at making a beer at home.

    I was in my early 20s, I lived in a bachelor pad, and we were 4 typical guys from London, UK. Our lives revolved around work, beer, football, and women, haha.

    There happened to be a beer-brewing shop just down the road from where we lived, so obviously we invested in all the mod-cons and tried to brew our own beer.

    I have no idea what method we used, suffice to say our end product tasted like absolute shite. But, we drank it anyway.

    Going through your guide here, I already feel like I know more now than I did back then.

    I’m ready for my second, and hopefully more successful, attempt, and based on your advice I’m going to give an Extract Beer Kit a try first.

    As you say, this is the best way to learn the basics and fully understand the process involved.

    I’ll let you know how I get on.

    Partha

    Reply
  5. That was very interesting article Robb. My first homebrew was the can of goo which is quite easy to follow along and get right. I just happened to bottle it a tad early and had all these mini-explosions going off in the basement. lol, I didn’t lose all of them and the beer was pretty damn good. Sad to say I never did another.

    My son now does his own and he is in using hops for his different beers. Once you have a few good tasting beers, how hard is it to take it to market if one was to go that way? My son and I have been talking about it for some time.
    Thanks for all the advice you share Robb I appreciate it.

    Reply
    • Hey Rick, funny but not so funny story I am sure. Yes those little yeasties can cause a mess if they have not finished most of their work before you bottle them up. Going to market depends on the laws of where you live. It took me about 6 months to get all of the licensing done. Good luck man, its a fun adventure for you. Cheers

      Reply

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