Beginning Brewers Guide
This guide is designed to help the beginning extract brewer brew excellent beer from the very start.
Before brewing, read these instructions completely and ensure that you are familiar with each piece of equipment and every step you will take. If you have any questions, please call before you get stuck.
Before we get into the basic steps of brewing beer it is important to discuss the three most important details for homebrewing: sanitation, sanitation, and sanitation.
If you very carefully sanitize all of your equipment you can be assured that you will not make a bad batch of beer. However, if you become lax about sanitation an infection will certainly develop. Sanitation is very simple but so important that you must make it a ritual before any brewing activity.
In order to sanitize something it must be thoroughly cleaned. Any deposits left will harbor bacteria which the sanitizing solution will not be able to reach. Do not clean with any abrasive substance. Also, scratches in plastic notoriously harbor beer-spoiling bacteria.
After all items are completely cleaned soak them in a light bleach solution for 20 minutes. This bleach solution is made up of one tablespoon bleach to 5 gallons cold water. Do not let stainless steel items soak in bleach. For these items you must use an Iodophor, Chempro SDP, or similar sanitizer. After sanitizing, rinse all items thoroughly before using hot water.
- Stainless Steel or Enamel Pot (at least 12 quart capacity)
- Single Stage Fermenter with Lid (at least 6 gallon capacity)
- Airlock and Stopper
- Syphon Package (including racking cane and bottle filler)
- Bottle Brush
- Beer Bottles (approximately 53 of 12 oz. capacity, returnable bottles only)
- Bottle Capper
- Bottling Bucket
You should be taking complete notes about the entire process. Keep track of all steps taken, all ingredients used, how they are used, and anything else that might seem useful. This is essential so that you can adjust the recipes and improve upon them in the future.
Take more notes than you feel are necessary and later you will learn exactly which are important. If in doubt, come in and look at some of the sample worksheets--these will help you keep notes in an organized fashion.
Treating Brewing Water
All brewing water should be boiled before use to drive off the chlorine which could otherwise ruin a batch of beer. Boil the water for at least 15 minutes and let cool in a suitable container until ready for use. This cooling allows for some of the excessive hardness to settle to the bottom.
Remove the lids and labels from all the cans of malt extract you will be using. Then, place these cans in a pan of boiling water and let sit until contents are easy to pour. This step is not strictly necessary but makes pouring the extract quicker and easier.
Steeping Specialty Grains
While the malt extract is loosening up add two gallons of water to your brewpot. Take the specialty grains and pour them into the steeping bag. Tie the bag and place it in the pot. Bring the water to 155 °F and hold at that temp for 30-45 min. Remove grain bag and discard.
Adding Malt Extract
Take the brewpot off the heat and add the malt extract while stirring constantly. By removing the pot from the heat you reduce the chances of scorching the extract on the bottom of the pot. Once the malt has been mixed into the water put the mixture (called the wort) onto the heat and add the bittering hops. Allow the wort to boil for 45 minutes at a slow rolling boil.
Adding Finishing Hops and cooling wort
Add the finishing hops to the boiling wort 2 minutes before the end of the 45-minute boil. At the end of the 2 minutes remove the pot from the heat and place a lid on your pot. Place the boiling pot into a sink or tub of cold water. Use ice if tap water i not very cold. Allow the wort to cool until the pot is slightly cool to the touch (60-70 ° F). During this time it is very important not to open the lid or allow unsanitized items to contact the wort in any way.
Rehydrating the Yeast
Rehydrate the brewing yeast by bringing 5-6 oz of brewing water to a boil and allowing this to cool to °100 F. Stir in yeast until mixed and cover. Wait until the wort is nearly cool enough so that the yeast may rehydrate for approximately 10 minutes.
Aeration and Trub separation
When the wort has cooled sufficiently pour the wort through a strainer into your plastic fermenter. Then top up the wort to the five gallon mark with cool water. Splash the cool water vigorously while adding it to the wort. This oxygenates the water for the rapidly growing yeast. CAUTION: NEVER SPLASH AROUND HOT WORT! This leads to oxidation and will give you stale beer.
Taking Starting Gravity reading
With a sanitized glass or baster remove a small quantity of wort and fill your hydrometer jar approximately 3/4 full. Pitch (add) the rehydrated yeast to the fermenter and affix the lid and airlock, filling airlock 1/2 way with water. Put fermenter away in a warm (65 ° F) area but away from direct sunlight. Bring the removed wort to 60 ° F by cooling, if necessary. Float your hydrometer in the jar and give it a quick spin to dislodge any trapped air bubbles. Sight across the liquid level at the lowest point and make a note of where the hydrometer reads on the S.G. scale.
You should notice the beginning of fermentation in about 24-48 hours and this will continue for 3 to 7 days depending on the temperature. After all apparent bubbling has stopped for approximately 3 days, take another specific gravity reading, using the sanitized baster or glass, and note the reading. It should read at approximately 1/4 of the original gravity (i.e. if you read an original gravity of 1.040 you should be near a final gravity of 1.010). If the gravity is much higher than that, wait two days and take another specific gravity reading. If the second gravity reading is no lower than the first then the beer has finished fermenting.
Clean and sanitize bottles. The sanitation can be performed by either soaking the bottles in a light bleach solution or by running the bottles through a dishwasher cycle without any detergent or rinsing agent. This will only work with a dishwasher that has a heat/dry cycle. Sanitize caps by boiling them for 10 minutes.
Boil priming sugar in one pint of water and add this mixture to your bottling bucket. Transfer beer from fermenter to bottling bucket using racking tubes. Be very careful not to aerate the beer at this point. Mix the priming sugar into the beer by gently stirring with the racking crane.
Turn on spigot and allow beer to flow through spigot and hose into bottle filler. Fill bottles to about 1" from top. Place cap on top of bottle and continue until all bottles have been filled. Now, go back and cap each bottle in the order they were filled. This delayed capping allows the dissolved CO2 to purge the headspace of any oxygen.
This sugar solution will initiate a secondary fermentation in the bottles and provide your beer with carbonation.The beer should be left in an area away from direct sunlight where the temperature is between 68-75 °F. to ensure complete carbonation. After seven days, give each bottle a twist to dislodge any yeast which may be clinging to the sides of the bottles. The beer will be best after it has aged for a month or so, but I can never wait. So at this point go ahead and enjoy. Just remember to save a few bottles (6 or so) for comparison against the later batches.
Now is the time to decide what changes to make to the recipe for your second batch. While tasting you beer, take good notes about what you think of the bitterness level, hop flavor, color, maltiness, etc. With this information we can begin to modify the recipes to your tastes. This is where the real fun comes in--designing recipes to your specific tastes.
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