Relax…Have a Home Brew

beginning home brewing

Do You Enjoy a Flavorful Craft Brewed Beer?

Maybe a hoppy robust IPA, rich dark stout, or light refreshing hefeweizen? Have you ever considered brewing your own?

Home Brewing can be a fun and rewarding hobby at any age, well, any age 21 or over. It can be a great creative outlet and, in the long run, can save money over craft-brewed beer at the brewery or liquor store.

What Equipment Do You Need?

Beginning Home Brewing

Beginning Home Brewing requires a minimum amount of equipment, some of which you likely already have in the kitchen. Basic equipment kits range about $75-$150. These kits typically include:

  • 1 or 2 fermentation vessels
    • (5 to 6.5 gallon food grade buckets with lids or glass/plastic water bottles known as carboys)
  • hydrometer
  • thermometer
  • fermentation lock
  • siphon hose and cane
  • bottling bucket
  • bottle filler wand
  • bottle capper
  • sanitizer
  • instruction/recipe book.

Generally, spending more on the kit will get you better quality and additional items will be included. Typically, you will supply the brew kettle which should be a stainless steel four-gallon to ten gallon stock pot. Note: Do Not use aluminum, it can lend a metallic taste to the beer.

What About the Ingredients?

What is beer made from? According to the Reinheitsgebot, the Bavarian Beer Purity Law of 1516, beer may only include four ingredients:

  • Malted grain (barley and/or wheat)
  • Hops
  • Yeast
  • Water

These are still the basic ingredients of any beer. Over the years many “adjunct” ingredients have been added to the brew such as sugar, honey, maple syrup, fruit, herbs & spices, other malted grains, and the list goes on.

Ingredients are readily available at local home brew shops and online suppliers. There are ready to brew recipe kits with all the ingredients needed make five gallons of beer. These range $35-$60 depending on the style of beer. Or, you can assemble your own ingredients from the bulk or packaged malts, grains, hops, and yeast available from the supplier.

Malt Extracts
Malted Grains

Malts

The malts are available in either liquid or dry extracts or whole grain form. The whole grain requires milling or crushing before use.

Hops

Hops on the Vine

Hops are the bittering and primary flavoring agent in beer. They are typically sold in one or two ounce packages in whole leaf form or ground up and formed into pellets. Either form can easily be used for home brewing and should be kept refrigerated until use .

Yeast

Dry Yeast
Liquid Yeast

There are a wide variety of yeast stains available for all styles of beer. Yeast can be the defining ingredient to determine the style being brewed. Yeast is sold in small packets of dry yeast which must be re-hydrated before use. The strains available in dry form are somewhat limited. There tends to be a wider variety of liquid yeasts sold in vials or foil pouches. These are ready to use. Like hops, whether dry or liquid, yeast should be kept refrigerated.

Water

Some home brewers like to use distilled water for their brews. Luckily, for us here in Colorado Springs, that is not necessary. Our pure city water supply is nearly ideal for brewing.

How Does This All Come Together?

Probably the easiest way to explain this is to just start with a simple basic recipe and walk through he steps of brewing. So, lets start with a simple real ale recipe for an English Bitter.

Ingredients:

  • 6 pounds, amber dry malt extract (DME).
  • 1 1/2 ounce, Cascade hop pellets (45 minute boil)
  • 1/2 ounce, Cascade hop pellets (1 minute boil)
  • 2 tsp gypsum (to simulate English hard water)
  • Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale or White Labs WLP002 English Ale liquid yeast
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar

Procedure:

Beginning Home Brewing
Brew Kettle

Add the DME, 1 1/2 oz hop pellets and gypsum to 2 gallons water and bring to boil, stirring until DME is thoroughly dissolved. Boil for 45 minutes adding the remaining 1/2 oz of hops in the last 1 minute. Remove from heat. This unfermented liquid is now called wort.

During the boil, fill the fermenter bucket, which you have cleaned and sanitized, with 3 1/2 gallons of cold water. Pour the hot wort into the fermenter and attach lid and fermentation lock. The lock should be half filled with water. This device will allow fermentation gas (CO2) to escape but not let outside air in.

When the fermenter has cooled to 90°F or less, carefully remove the lid and add the yeast which has been brought to room temperature. This is called “pitching” the yeast.

Now We Wait

You should begin to see bubbling in the fermentation lock within a few hours which will steadily increase for two or three days and then begin to slow over the next couple days. After about ten days or when this activity has slowed to one or two bubbles per minute you are ready to bottle.

Bottling

Rack (transfer) the fermented beer into your bottling bucket using the racking cane and siphon hose. Be careful not to disturb the trub or sediment in the bottom of your fermenter.

Boil the corn sugar in one pint water until fully dissolved and add this to the bottling bucket.

Boil an adequate number of bottle caps (30 for 22 oz bottles or 50 for 12 oz bottles) for a few minutes to sanitize.

Fill your clean bottles using the bottling wand attached to the spigot on the bucket via the siphon hose, capping each bottle as it is filled. Store at room temperature to condition.

The Reward

The beer should be ready to drink in about seven to fourteen days. Chill a couple of bottles to try. Carbonation level will increase and become steady after about three weeks.

Relax…Enjoy Your Home Brew

For more information and additional recipes, visit my Home Brew Blog, 100 Bottles of Beer, at cohomebrewguru.com

Bob – The Colorado Home Brew Guru

Bob Archibald has been an avid home brewer for over 24 years. He has spent 12 years working in the local craft beer industry. In addition to home brewing, Bob and his partner Debbie enjoy gardening and travel. Also, see their travel blog, Travels with Bob & Deb, at bobndebtravels.com.


The above article on Beginning Home Brewing was originally posted as a Guest Blog on a website catering to activities for the 50+ crowd in Colorado Springs. That explains the simple content when compared with most of the previous posts. I do not remember the URL for the site and can no longer find it via google search, so I do not know if it still exists.

Apologies to the Godfather of Home Brewing, Charlie Papazian, for the use of his catch-phrase “Relax…Have a Home Brew”.

About

I am the HomeBrew Guru… My name is Bob Archibald. Some of you may remember me as the grumpy old man behind the bar at Bristol Brewing (bristolbrewing.com) in Colorado Springs where I had been pouring beer for over 12 years. They finally decided I was getting too old or didn’t have enough tattoos or something and replaced me with younger hipper bartenders. Oh well, it was time I moved on anyway. At least they kept my home brew recipe for the annual Christmas Ale! I have been home brewing since late 1994 and have brewed over 150 beers to date. Although I am not a highly technical brewer (its more of a ZEN thing) and still brew on a stovetop, I have created many different styles of beer and have gotten rave reviews for some of my creations. I have also dabbled with mead and wine to equal degrees of success. My latest endeavor is to try my hand at distilled spirits. I have found the basic stovetop method of brewing to be economical and in no way limiting in the quality and variety of beer which can be produced by the home brewer. I also still bottle condition my brews because I like the flavor of a good bottle conditioned beer. It is also more economical than the expense of kegging and the necessary draft system, just a little more time-consuming. A LITTLE MORE ABOUT MY BACKGROUND I am originally from Montana. I went to high school in the little town of Plains and later to an electronics school in Missoula, which eventually lead to a career in the telecom industry for about 23 years. First with Mountain Bell where I did everything from Operator Services to Central Office Installation to Outside Plant. From there I went to Northern Telecom, better known as Nortel, where I did Central Office Installation, Engineering, Grounding, Fiber Optics, and finally Sales Engineer. The telecom industry had a bit of a melt-down after the events of 9/11 and I found myself looking for work. I tried a couple of customer service jobs and ran my own retail business for 5 years. During that time I picked up the part-time gig with Bristol Brewing and I guess it sort of stuck, for a while anyway. 100 BOTTLES OF BEER I began writing my Home Brew Blog, 100 Bottles of Beer, about 9 years ago. It was hosted on Associated Content and then moved to Yahoo Voices. Both of those venues have shut down and I have now moved to WordPress. I went about two years without writing a new one but, I have now revived it here. The blog chronicles my fermentation adventures from how I got started in home brewing, my very first brew through my 100th brew and beyond. All recipes and instructions are included as well as related brewing history, brewing basics and advanced methods, personal experiences, successes, and failures. The most important thing to remember is… KEEP ON BREWIN’

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