Brewing beer is a pastime for some people but others do it because their recipe is better than the taste of store-bought beer. The biggest thing to making beer yourself is purchasing the equipment which will usually run between a hundred to two hundred dollars. You will need a brew pot, a primary fermenter, airlock and stopper, plastic hose, bottling bucket, bottles, bottle brush, bottle-capper for glass bottles, adhesive thermometer, and some other household supplies.
The brew pot should be made of stainless steel or should be enamel-coated metal. The pot should be able to hold at least sixteen quarts. Do not use aluminum pots to make beer. The primary fermenter is where you’ll put the mix to allow it to ferment. It must hold at least seven gallons and have a lid that seals airtight. It’s best to purchase your supplies from a knowledgeable source or you could end up with some undrinkable creation that cost you plenty.
The airlock allows carbon dioxide to escape from the fermenter to keep it from exploding but it also prevents outside air from entering the fermenter and polluting the beer. It is inserted into a rubber stopper with a hole. The stopper goes in the top of the fermenter. It’s important that you get the proper size stopper. As far as the plastic hosing, you’ll need about five feet of food-grade plastic hose.
The bottling bucket is a large, food-grade plastic bucket with a spigot. The tucket needs to be at least the size of the fermenter. You’ll need approximately forty sixteen-ounce bottles to make a batch of beer. Glass bottles are recommended and can be found at a store that sells beer-making supplies.
Search online for a place near you that carries the supplies. You’ll also need a bottle-capper for glass bottles. They are made to be secured to a surface and work by capping the bottle while you hold it. Other things you’ll need is the thermometer, bottle brush, a small bowl, saucepan, spatula, pot holders, and a large mixing spoon.
If you have your own beer recipe, or want to find one online, you can. Otherwise purchase a beer kit which includes everything you need to make the recipe at home. You will, however, need to add brewers sugar, dry malt extract, liquid malt extract, or a combination of these. This is what causes the beer to ferment. Beer kits save you from having to throw out entire recipes because they haven’t turned out right.
It’s extremely important for all your equipment to be thoroughly sanitized. Boil, to sanitize, the following items: brew pot, fermenter, brew spoon, airlock and stopper, saucepan, bowl, spatula and mixing spoon. You can run these things through a dishwasher to get them clean. Place a couple of tablespoons of bleach into the second dishwasher cup rather than a second round of detergent.
To begin the beer-making process bring 2 quarts of water to about 170 degrees which is steaming but not really boiling. Add the beer kit and fermentables – brewers sugar or whatever you’ve decided to use. Stir well until all is dissolved then put the lid on the pot and let it stand for 15 minutes on a low setting.
Pour the mixture in to 4 gallons of cold water in the fermenter. Mix well for a couple of minutes. When the fermenter is cool to touch add the yeast. The mixture is not yet beer. It must ferment for 3 to 5 days. After that amount of time begin checking the beer each day to see if the airlock is still bubbling. If it is still bubbling the beer is still fermenting. When there is a couple of minutes between bubbles the fermentation is finished.
The rest of the fermenting process takes place in the bottles. Before beginning to bottle the beer make sure you have more than enough caps because the capper will usually not cap every bottle perfectly and you may have to give a second try to some of the caps.
Use the saucepan to hold two or three cups of water then dissolve three quarters of a cup of dextrose in the water. Bring the liquid to a boil over a medium heat then cover and allow to sit for 20 minutes, or until cool.
Position the bottling bucket somewhere that allows you to place the fermenter directly above it, such as a table and chair. Attach the plastic hose to the spigot. Pour the dextrose solution into the bottling bucket then open the spigot and allow the beer to mix with the solution in the bottling bucket. Leave some of the beer in the fermenter because it contains sediment.
Close the spigot, remove the hose, and clean. Hook the hose up to the bottling bucket spigot now so you can fill the bottles. Place old towels around because some beer will spill. As you’re filling each bottle shove the hose all the way to the bottom of the bottle. As the beer nears the top of the bottle quickly remove it and put it into the next bottle. After all the bottles are filled, cap them.
Store the beer in a cool, dark place – not the refrigerator – so that the secondary fermentation can take place. The temperature should be between sixty and seventy degrees to allow the fermentation to be complete. Leave beer in the place you’ve chosen for at least two weeks. Make sure you clean all the equipment well.