Step 1: Prepare
Set aside several hours to make your beer, and verify that you have all your equipment and ingredients close at hand. Brewing is a time-sensitive process.
Step 2: Sanitize
Bacteria or other contaminants can spoil your brew completely. Sanitize all equipment with sodium percarbonate, available at home-brew supply stores. Everything that will come in contact with your brew should be sanitized. Rinse thoroughly.
You can also use a bucket of bleach solution: two capfuls bleach per five gallons of water.
Step 3: Boil the wort
Fill the pot with three gallons of water and heat on high. Add the malt extract when the water is hot, not boiling, and stir it until it dissolves. This mixture is called ‘wort.’
Step 4: Add hops and boil
When the wort hits a rolling boil, add one ounce of hops. Continue to boil the wort on medium heat for one hour, stirring often. This will kill any bacteria that may have snuck into the mixture. At the end of the hour, as you turn off the heat, add an additional one-quarter ounce of hops to enhance aroma and flavor.
The more hops you add, the more bitter your beer will be. If you dig that hoppy bite, add a bit more to the wort.
Step 5: Cool the wort
Cover the pot and remove it from the heat. Place it in a large sink or bathtub, surround it with ice, and cool to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure no ice cubes sneak into the wort.
Step 6: Add cold water
Once the wort has cooled, pour 2 gallons or so of cold water into the container you are using as a fermenter: either the bucket or glass carboy.
Step 7: Transfer wort to the fermenter
Pour the wort into the fermenter. If you are using a carboy, pour in the wort using a funnel. Enlist some help: This is a two-person job. Depending on the type of hops you used, you may need a strainer. There should now be between five and five and a half gallons of liquid inside the fermenter.
To measure the alcohol percentage, use a hydrometer to take a reading before you add the yeast, and another reading before bottling. Alcohol content varies among beer types; your kit will include the correct range for the one you’re making.
Step 8: Prepare to add yeast
Take another temperature reading to make sure the mixture in the fermenter is no warmer than 75 degrees. The ideal temperature is about 60 degrees.
Step 9: Pitch the yeast
If you’re using dry yeast, pour it into a cup with a half-cup of 105-degree water. Stir it rapidly with a whisk to aerate it; then let it stand for 10 minutes. “Pitch,” or add, the yeast and either shake the carboy, or stir vigorously with the spoon or whisk for several minutes.
Step 10: Seal
The beer is now ready for fermentation. To prevent mess and contamination, run plastic tubing through the hole in the stopper, down to a half-full glass of water. Then seal your fermenter with the stopper. After two or three days, replace the stopper with the airlock. See Part 2 to finish your beer.
Did You Know?
One of the oldest recorded recipes in the world is for beer, carved on a 4,000-year-old Mesopotamian tablet.