Everything you need to brew your own beer

Beer
Image:Wikimedia Commons

Beer. Men have been making it for thousands of years. In fact, it was considered so important that the daily wages of the men who built the pyramids included a healthy portion of it. In the days before safe drinking water, brewing beer was vital and every town had a local brewer. But these days, we’re content to outsource that responsibility to faceless corporations. And it’s hard to argue that the product hasn’t suffered as a result.

But what if you could brew your own beer?

Well, learning how to brew your own beer is actually not as hard as it might sound. And there are a lot of reasons you might want to do it:

  • You can use higher quality ingredients.
  • You can experiment to find the best tasting beer.
  • You can develop a delicious brew and name it after yourself.

So if that sounds like something you would be into, let’s break down how it’s done. First, you basically have two options, you can buy a professional kit or you can purchase the ingredients separately and do it yourself.

Purchasing a kit is probably the best option for a first-time brewer as it takes a lot of the hassle out of the process and comes with instructions along with a set of basic equipment. You can pick up a wide variety of basic kits here for around fifty bucks. The basic ingredients are going to be hops, a grain mash, and yeast.

Now before you do anything with those get your equipment together. You’re going to need a boiling pot big enough to hold a few gallons of water, a kitchen strainer, a big funnel, and a separate container for the fermenting process with vents to let gas escape.

So once you have all that, the first step is to choose a recipe. Do you want your beer to be a lager, a stout, or an ale? What sort of alcohol by volume percentage are you aiming for?

It’s really up to you. If you’re interested in learning about what the differences between all these different kinds of beer are, you can become a veritable beer expert in five minutes by reading this. Once you do decide, you need a recipe to follow. Here’s a site with hundreds of different recipes to follow.

The process of making great homebrew is not that difficult. The first thing to do is crush the grain you’re using into a rough powder. When making your beer, you want a consistency that’s closer to granola than flour. An easy way to do this is by placing the grain in a bag and working it over with a rolling pin for a few minutes.

Step two is to place the grain in a strainer and place it in water for 30 minutes at 150 degrees. This process extracts the flavor from the grain. This is the step that gives your beer much of its taste.

Next, bring the mixture to a boil. Once you reach a stable boil add your hops and any other specialty ingredients. This is the step that gives your beer much of its taste. Let the pot boil for about an hour and be careful not to let it boil it over or you’ll have a giant mess to clean up.

Once the mixture (which is called “wort” at this point) cools off, transfer it with a funnel into the fermentation container. From this point on, make sure that anything the wort comes in contact with is carefully sanitized. Any bacteria that gets into the wort can fester over the fermenting process and ruin your beer or even be dangerous.

Careful about what kind of container you use, the gasses produced during the process of fermenting the beer expand and can even make it explode. An airlock is an attachment that allows gas to escape without letting bacteria into the container.

Store the container somewhere dark and cold for about 7 days. At this point, the beer will drinkable, but flat. The final step is to “prime” the beer, which requires that you boil 3/8 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water for about five minutes. Then transfer it into a sanitized container along with your beer.

Now all that’s left is putting the beer into bottles and slapping on a label.

Brewing your own beer is part art and part science. Trying to combine ingredients in the perfect way to make a great tasting beer gives you a hobby that uses both sides of your brain at once. It’s the sort of thing that can easily become a life-long passion.

So if you enjoy drinking beer ( and who doesn’t), why not try your hand at making it, and brew your own beer.

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