How to Make Beer – Part 1
Three Methods of Home Brewing
Craft Beer – Make It Yourself!
Those many hundreds of brewpubs and micro breweries that are popping us all over the US and across the world? Most of them are being run by Brewmasters who began as home brewers. You can be one too! Let’s start now in – “How to Make Beer.”
Basically, there are three types of methods to make home brew beer:
1.) How to Make Beer – Easy
Home brewing is done using a basic “kit-in-a-can”. (Sort of like a dump-in-a-bowl dessert mix.) Check out our Shop and click on “Home Brew Kits – Easy” for some good starter kits.
If you want really good beer, this is not the best choice. But it can be a good place to start for the complete beginner.
3.) How to Make Beer – Intermediate
Brewing processes use “extracts” and hops, which is best used with “steeping grains”, for added flavor and/or color. Check out our SHOP and click on “Home Brew Kits – Intermediate” for some good intermediate kits.
This is a good place to start if you have any type of cooking or chemistry experience. By experience, I do mean a good experience. If you burned the pasta, or blew up the lab, you may want to start at the basic level.
“Extracts” are the fermentable sugars that come from malted grains.
They are available in either dry or liquid form.
“Steeping grains” are grains that do not need to be mashed. Also may be called specialty grains.
They are steeped, like tea, during the beer making process.
“Mashing” is the process of cooking the grains in water and allowing their enzymes to convert their carbohydrates into fermentable sugars.
3.) How to Make Beer – Advanced
“All grain” brewing offers the brewer, either home or commercial, the most variation, control, and creativity. The downside is that it also requires more equipment and a bit more knowledge and expertise. Check out our Shop and click on “All Grain Brew Kits”.
Don’t be scared away from all grain brewing. There are ways to utilize this advanced technique and still get great results with only a bit of extra equipment over that which is needed for basic or intermediate.
~ More on that in another article. ~
Equipment Needed For “How to Make Beer – Advanced”
- 6.5 Gallon Plastic Fermenter (Primary Fermenter)
- Bucket Lid with Hole, for Primary Fermenter (the hole is for the air lock)
- Primary or Secondary Fermenter (Carboy). Why is it called a carboy? It’s said to have derived from a Persian word that means “big jug”.
For better clarity of your brew, use two fermenters. The first one will be for the majority of the fermentation process. During fermentation weak or dead yeast, undesirable proteins and hops residue will collect on the bottom. This sediment is called trub.
- 5 Gallon Glass Carboy For Beer or Wine Making
By racking* (transferring) to the secondary you leave most of the trub behind. When you rack for the first time you’ll probably be surprised how much yuck and odor there is. Ooh. 🙁 We want that out of our fermenting beer.
*Be very careful when transferring (racking) the brew. Complete sanitation is a must!
Also, make sure that no oxygen gets into the brew at this time. Oxidation creates off flavors. Racking’s not hard to do. Just use the knowledge you learn here, plus the “How to Make Beer” info from your beer kit.
“Racking” is moving the brew off of the sediment into a secondary container or into a bottling bucket. It depends on where you are in the brewing process. BTW, wine makers rack up to several times to clear their wine. We have it easy. 🙂
In choosing your fermenter, keep in mind that glass is non-porous and when thoroughly cleaned, doesn’t retain odors. But, glass is heavier and can break, so make your own choice.
The carboy, either glass or translucent plastic, needs to be covered & protected from all light to prevent “skunking” the flavor of your beer. I use heavy black contractors’ plastic – shaped and taped to fit – then placed over the carboy like a sheath.
“Skunked” refers to the smell that develops when hop components in beer are exposed to light. The chemical mercaptan is produced, which is very similar to a skunk’s odor.
- Liquid Crystal Strip Thermometer – Place on side of carboy to monitor the fermentation temp. Position about half way between the top and bottom.
Placing a strip of clear 2” packing tape over the thermometer helps prevent water damage to it when cleaning.
- Carboy cleaning brush
After the carboy has been emptied, completely clean it with very hot, clean dishwater and rinse it thoroughly. Then use the powdered cleaner that comes with your kit. Powdered Brewery Wash is considered one of the best cleaners.
Part 2 – the finish – How to Make Beer series is here:
How to Make Beer is just one of many informative articles in Black Bucket Brew – a weekly BeerZine. Subscribe Now for your free emailed copy!
Written by David Ivey