Brewing 101 Making good beers
Home Brewing can be a fun and a fairly inexpensive hobby. Nothing is better than having friends over for beer that you made.
A starter beer kit can be bought at your local brew store for around $80 and another $35 for a glass carboy.
Decide what you want to brew • Folks who brew usually have a favorite or a few favorites in mind before they start to brew. I recommend getting yourself a beer kit for your first batch. Kits can be bought at your local brew store between $35-$45, depending on what you want to brew. These kits provide all the ingredients you will need to make your first batch. This includes your malt, yeast and hops. The rest is up to you. Most homebrew beer batches yield 2 cases of quality beer.
Clean, Clean, Clean Make sure that everything that touches the actual wort and/or beer is clean. Since Beer has a low alcohol content, beer/ale is prone to infection. Use two or one stage cleaners like the Easy Clean product pictured below. I often place paper towels on a table to create a clean area. Everything on that table has been cleaned and one staged.
Ingrediants Brewing involves yeast, that eats sugar (malt), creates gas (carbon dioxide) and its byproduct is alcohol. Most beer utilizes malt, hops, water and yeast. There are three basic methods to creating beer, each with their pros and cons.
Pre-made malt This malt is already made for you. It takes about 2.2 liters of malt to make a 5 gallon batch of beer. The advantage of malt is that it is quicker to make. The cons are that it is a bit more expensive , costing around $30 for one batch and that the finished product is not entirely your own making. Pictured below are a 30 lb bucket of malt for larger scale brewing and the smaller container is a 1.1 liter of malt.
Steeping grains Steeping grains are my preferred method of brewing. This uses malt like on the prior slide but also adds grains that you steep in the initial process of brewing. This makes the batch more of your creation by altering the wort to your desire. This method allows you to claim more ownership of the batch but also adds a bit more to the price of creation. Pictured below are hops, steeping grains in a plastic bag and a vial and small pouch of yeast.
All Grain • All grain brewing is the purest way to create your own beer. You buy the grains and then you mash the grains (You will need a mash tun to do this). The finished mash is what the malt represents when you buy it at the brew shop. You then go about your brewing. Pros are that the entire batch is truly your creation and that it is cheaper to buy grains than malt (about half the price). The downside is you add another 2-3 hours to the brewing process.
Historic Mash Tun Mashing is the process of adding hot water to the grains and let them set for an hour, then sparging hot water over the grains to obtain all the sugars. The stick in the middle acts as a filtration system.
Modern Mash Tun Below is a mash tun made from an old cooler. Inside the tun is a stainless steel filter that helps keep out the grain from your wort. Also added is a brass valve assembly attached to a plastic food grade hose. These can be purchased at your local home brew store.
The Mashing process • Mashing can be done in numerous ways but generally: • 1) Add grain to mash tun. Make sure valve is closed • 2) Add hot water (around 170 degrees) to tun and close. Let it sit for at least one hour. • Calculate mash water: _____lbs x 1.1 qts = __ /4 = ____Gallons • 3) Let some of the malt water out into your boil pot so that the top of the grain bed is barely covered with water.
The Mashing Process 4) Pour hot water over grains slowly and release the valve slowly as to collect as much sugar water as possible. 5) Collect your hot sugar water. Try your best to go slow so you can collect enough sugar for 6 gallons of malt to allow for 1 gallon of burn off for a 5 gallon batch.
Malt to the boil If you mashed in a mash tun, you have created the malt you can buy in a brew store. Often people do not want to go right to mashing because of the added cost and time of using the equipment, so many will just start out using malt that is already created. An average batch of beer needs 2.2 liters of malt or two 1.1 liter cans like the small one listed below.
Steeping Grains Those who do not want to start mashing right away can also use something called steeping grains. These are placed in a muslin bag and allowed to steep in the brew pot while you wait for the water to boil. On average they steep for about a half hour. Steeping grains allow you the freedom to make a starter malt more of your own recipe and flavor profile.
The Boil and your bittering hops Once you bring your pot to a boil, you then remove your steeping grains (if you used them) and add your bitteringhops. When you add your hops make sure you watch your heat level because hops tend to boil over. Boil over is bad because it not only makes a mess but it decreases your water level and it can cause scalding in your brew pot, possibly giving, off flavors to your beer.
Hops Hops do many things for your beer. First they add some bittering flavors to your product to help sweet malt have some balance to flavor. Hops have something called alpha acids, low have lower bittering and higher have higher bittering. Bittering hops are added near the beginning of the boil. Second hops add aroma and are usually added toward the end of the boil. Hops also helps preserve your beer.
Stir and enjoy Once you have your boil going mark the time of the beginning of boil and when you added your hops. Stirring is important because it can help prevent scalding in your brew pot as well as a watchful eye for boil over. This one hour of stirring, in my opinion are the best times as a brewer. It is a great time of fellowship and trying some of your other batches with friends.
End of boil • Once you have boiled your wort for an hour and have added your finishing hops (aroma hops), you then turn off the heat and try to bring your wort temperature below 80 degrees so that the hot wort will not kill your yeast. The faster you lower the wort temperature the better your beer will be. This quick cooling helps ensure something called protein break which has a lot to do with flavor and excellent home brews. Pour your hot wort into your fermenting bucket carefully.
Cooling your wort New brewers often try to cool their brew pots in sinks with ice or closed up and placed outside in cold temperatures. These methods can take hours but if it is the best you can do brew with less water in your boil and add clean cold water to make a total of 5 gallons. Another way to cool your wort is using a wort chiller like the one pictured below.
Wort Chillers Wort chillers are fairly easy to make but are not cheap due to the cost of the copper/stainless steel coil but if you are planning to home brew often it can help cool your wort as quickly as 20 minutes. All it takes to make a wort chiller is a hose line, at least 50’ of copper/stainless steel coil and some hose clamps.
Hydrometer reading Whatever you do, once your wort is cooled you should take a hydrometer reading. The hydrometer reading tells you how much sugar is available and then what is the maximum alcohol yield you can get from the batch. Hydrometer readings can also save you from exploding beer bottles, popping corks as well as primary fermentations that can end up on your ceiling, making a huge mess.
Hydrometer You can place your hydrometer right in your fermenting bucket or if you are using a carboy draw out some of your brew with a turkey baster or wine thief. The hydrometer reading below is around 1.010 which is a very nice final gravity, leaving behind around 1% fermentables. You take your starting reading and subtract what you end up with for your alcohol reading.
Pitching yeast Once your hydrometer is read and you have made sure your temperature is below 80 degrees you can pitch your yeast. Sprinkle the yeast on the top of your wort and then stir vigorously for two minutes to aerate your wort. Oxygen is very important early on to help your yeast flourish but understand that oxygen is bad after primary fermentation. The buckets below are in primary (first 7-10 days) Secondary fermentation is in the carboys below (up to 2 weeks after primary)
Primary Fermentation • After you seal up your fermenting bucket you let it sit for 7-10 days. This is called primary fermentation. When I brew I usually rack with racking cane from the primary fermentation bucket to the secondary fermentation glass carboy after one week. Before you rack make sure you take a hydrometer reading and make sure you have had fermentation. You can take the reading right in the bucket before you rack into glass. Make sure your hydrometer is clean and sanitized.
Journal Make sure you keep a brewing journal whenever you brew. If you want to remake a particularly good batch again or make changes you have a document of what you did right or wrong. You should also write down your hydrometer readings to keep track of your fermentation.
Secondary Fermentation • After 7-10 days in primary you should rack your brew into a secondary glass carboy, where it should (on average) sit for 2 more weeks. You can use a racking cane or something called an auto-siphon which uses pressure to pull out your brew. You can buy an auto-siphon at your local brew store. When you finish with secondary fermentation make sure you take a final hydrometer reading. Most beers should be below or around 1.010 before bottling.
Bottling After two weeks in secondary take a hydrometer reading (make sure you are below or around 1.010). If you bottle you will use ¾ cup of corn sugar to 1 cup of warm water to create co2 in your beer. Make sure your warm water is below 80 degrees . Rack your beer into a bottling bucket and pour in your corn sugar solution. Use your bottling cane to avoid oxygen and fill bottles to at least an inch below the bottle fill top. It usually takes two weeks to carbonate.
Kegging If you are new to brewing buying a kegging system may not be on your agenda but it is good to understand that kegging can save you money and time in bottles in the long run. A kegging system can cost over $200 and may be worth it in the long run for the person who brews regularly. Kegging takes about 1 week in contrast to two weeks to bottling.
Brewing review • 1) Sanitize everything • 2) Mash (If applicable) • 3) Start boil 6 gallons (add steeping grains if applicable) • 4) Add malt and bittering hops at boil • 5) Boil for one hour • 6) Add aroma hops last 2-10 minutes • 7) Pour wort into fermenting bucket • 8) Cool with cold water or wort chiller to below 80 degrees, top off to 5 gallons
Brewing review • 9) take your hydrometer reading • 10 Document recipe and results • 11) Pitch yeast • 12) Agitate with spoon vigorously for 2 minutes • 13) Seal up lid and add air lock • 14) 7-10 days in primary • 15) hydrometer reading and record • 16) Rack into secondary glass carboy for 2 weeks • 17) Rack into sanitized bottling bucket and take final hydrometer reading • 18) ¾ cup of corn sugar in warm water, cool below 80 degrees and bottle into sanitized bottles and cap • 19 Drink in two weeks.
Important Notes Keep everything clean and sanitized when you brew!!! Take hydrometer readings!!! Record everything that you do with your beer!!!! Have Fun!!! Make friends and have a home brew!!!
Brewing 101 Home brewing is a fun and anyone can learn to do it. I hope this presentation was helpful and that next time we meet you will bring me one of your home brews, sit down near our fire and share a pint together. Cheers!!!