Over the last several years, both craft beer and homebrewing have become very popular. Every day new home brewers are born as they attempt to brew their first batch of beer at home. This guide on how to brew beer at home covers the basic instructions on how to brew beer with a extract home beer brewing kit and goes over the basics beer brewing rule of thumbs so that you can create a great batch of beer your first time out!
Lets start with the what you will need to brew your first batch of beer. I would recommend staring with an extract home beer brewing ingredient kit and one of these homebrewing equipment starter kits. Click on the image below to pick out a home beer brewing equipment kit if you have not already purchase one:
Next you will want to pick out the extract home brewing ingredient kit that you will want to brew. These beer brewing ingredient kits include all the ingredients that you will need (except the water) to brew your first batch of beer, including the hops and grain extract. Make sure that you select an appropriate yeast and priming sugar if your will be bottling your beer. I choose to brew an American Wheat beer for my first batch and had allot of success with it, but I recommend you choose one of your favorite beer styles for your first batch. MoreBeer offers a great selection of home brewing beer recipe kits, click the beer image to view their starter kit selection.
Optional equipment that you will want to consider to help your first home beer brewing session go as well as possible are as follows. I would recommend if you are brewing a 5 gallon batch of beer that you purchase a stainless steel 8 gallon home brewing kettle. This will provide you with some additional head space in the kettle and help you avoid a boil over during the boiling process. A great economical brew kettle would be this 8.5 gallon stainless brewing pot. Click the image for additional details and to order one.
Another item that I would recommend is a stainless steel home brewing wort chiller. A home brewing wort chiller is important because after your beer has boiled it is concentrated with sugar and very susceptible to infection by bacteria or wild yeast strains. A wort chiller helps cool your beer down rapidly after the boiling process has completed so that you can move it over to a sterilized fermenter to begin to fermentation process as quickly as possible and diminish to probability of an infection occurring. Here is a great wort chiller for 5 gallon home beer brewing batches.
The last set of equipment that I would recommend if you can fit it in your budget is a home brew beer kegging system. Cleaning, sanitizing, priming, filling and capping your beer bottles is a serious pain in the butt and a kegging system helps you avoid just about all of that. Not to mention it allows you to control your carbonation level and is much safer since an over carbonated bottle can explode! Here is a great home beer brewing keg system that I would recommend. Please click the keg system image for more details and pricing options.
Alright, now that we have all of that out of the way, we can get down to business! Here is a basic guide on how to brew beer at home. If you have any questions on one of the steps you can always feel free to reach out to me and I will do my best to give you good advice.
Review your beer brewing recipe and make sure that you have everything that you will need to brew your batch of beer. Set your yeast out so that it will acclimate to room temperature. Begin heating the water in your brewing kettle or large pot. Once the water is heated to the desired temperature add your flavoring or steeping grains if included with your home brewing ingredient kit. Place the grains in a mesh bag and allow them to steep for approximately 30 minutes at 160F or the temperature your beer recipe states. Once the grain steeping is completed, press against the grain bag with a spoon to release as much as the flavor as possible and then remove the grain bag and bring the mixture to a boil.
Once your water has reached a boil, reduce the temperature just slightly and add in your liquid malt extract and or dry malt extract. The malt extract is composed of sugars that have been extracted for you from beer brewing malts and grains. Stir the mixture which at this point in the home beer brewing process is known as wort. Stir you wort vigorously, making sure that it does not clump or burn on the bottom of the kettle or home brewing pot. Slowly increase the temperature until the kettle until it reaches a boil. At this time you will want to closely monitor your home brewing kettle closely to avoid a boil over. A kettle boil over is most likely at the start of your boil than at any other time. If you notice a large head of foam begging to form, reduce the temperature of the kettle and rapidly stir the wort until it subsides. Once your wort has been boiling for 5 minutes, begin your boil timer for hop additions.
Once your wort has achieved a strong rolling boil you will want to add in your first timed hop addition. Hops are what adds the bitterness to your beer and much of the aroma. Typically your bittering hops are added early in the boiling process and much remain in contact with the boiling beer for an extended period of time (usually 60 minutes) to transfer all of their bittering potential to the beer; so keep in mind that the longer that your hops are exposed to the boiling wort, the more bitter the finished beer will be. Once you have added in your first hop addition, you will want to set a timer for your next hop addition.
Once you have finished boiling your wort and making all of your hop additions including any final 0 minute aroma hop additions; turn the heat off and cool the wort as quickly as possible. This is the time when you would want to utilize your wort chiller if you decided to purchase one. The wort chiller will allow you to cool your wort rapidly. If you do not have a home beer brewing wort chiller available then I would recommend soaking your beer brewing kettle or pot in an ice bath while stirring the wort to help it cool down more quickly. Make sure that the spoon that you stir your wort with is sanitized, because from this point forward your wort will need to remain as sterile as possible to help avoid a contamination in your beer from bacteria or foreign yeast sources.
Once you have cooled your wort to approximately 70 F (for an ale or 50 F for a lager), you will transfer your home brewing beer wort to a sanitized carboy, stainless steel ferenter or fermentation bucket. It is important to make sure that the fermentation vessel and any tubing the wort comes in contact with has been cleaned and sanitized! Try to splash the wort around while transferring it as that will help to oxygenate the wort. The yeast utilizes the oxygen for its initial reproduction phase of the fermentation process. Once the wort has been transferred to the carboy, add your home brewing yeast into the fermenter and seal the fermenter with an airlock. The home brewing airlock will permit CO2 to escape while not allowing in any outside contaminants or oxygen. Allow the beer to ferment at approximately 68 F for an Ale or 52 F for a lager, until the fermentation process has completed. The fermentation process typically takes between 2 to 3 weeks to complete depending on the potential alcohol level of the beer, the yeast and the fermentation temperature.
Once the yeast has completed fermenting your beer, which typically takes 7-21 days; then either transfer the beer to a keg or add an appropriate amount of priming sugar to the beer and then bottle it. The beer should carbonate condition for about 2 weeks for best results. If you are using a keg and CO2 tank to carbonate your beer, the process can go much quicker. Keep in mind that if you are bottling your beer you will want to let the beer carbonate and condition at approximately 70 F so that the sugars can be fermented into CO2 to properly carbonate the beer. Once completed, your beer is ready to enjoy!