I feel it is quintessentially ‘country’ to do things yourself, as a nod to the way things were done back in the good ol’ days. I would like to see a resurgence in folks mastering skills that our grandparents had. It seems like things were better quality back then, and there was pride in it. Brewing beer is a great DIY project, and sitting down to a mug of your own home brew is really something special!
I would like to encourage anyone who has previously thought about brewing their own beer with this post, because while it may seem complicated, these home brewing kits actually make it pretty simple. I have wanted to do this for quite some time now, and now that I’ve done it, I regret putting it off for so long. The kit we purchased has all the ingredients to make a specific type of beer. No matter what your preference; you name it, you can order it.
This post is broken up into two parts, because the whole process takes approximately a week. Today I’m showing you the actual ‘brewing’ portion, and the next post will be the finishing steps like siphoning and bottling.
Included in the kit:
- Unhopped Dark Malt Extract
- Dark Dried Malt Extract
- Hop Pellets
- Ale Yeast
- Priming Sugar
- Bottle Caps
There are a few things you will need to have that are separate from the kit itself. These things are easy to get, and not very expensive.
Additional Equipment to have:
- Stainless steel ‘brew pot’ (large pot with heavy bottom)
- Fermenting container (plastic bucket with lid, or glass carboy)
- Food thermometer
- Bottling bucket
- Food grade sanitizing solution
- Large long handled stainless steel spoon
- Bottle capper
- Long neck bottles (non-screw-top, and preferably brown)
The first thing to keep in mind is that beer is made through a fermentation process. Fermenting is an action which requires yeast to eat sugar, and the bi-product is alcohol. Therefore, every single thing that you use for the process must not only be clean, but sanitized prior to starting.
Once everything is sanitized, we heated water in our large brew pot to a boil. Then add all the ingredients except the yeast and priming sugar. This must be brought back to a boil for approximately thirty minutes. The time it takes will vary depending on the beer you get. Be watchful of how the mixture is reacting. You don’t want a lot of foam as it boils, so if that happens, turn the heat down until the foam reduces.
Then you can turn it back up to finish. One of the best parts of this particular time is the smell of the malt as it brews. I wish I could have bottled the smell and kept it, it was that amazing! The whole house smelled like malt, and it just felt like we were in a professional brewery!
After the mix has boiled for thirty minutes, you turn the heat off and let it cool. It has to be under 90 degrees Fahrenheit before you can pour it into the carboy. Once the mixture cools enough, we used a siphon to fill the carboy so as to not spill any of the wonderful malty goodness!
At that point, sprinkle the yeast into the carboy a little at a time so that it doesn’t all clump up together.
It isn’t necessary to stir the yeast much, in fact all we did was add the rest of the water into it so as to make the full five gallons. That did mix things up just a little, which is plenty.
After the yeast has had about ten minutes to move throughout the vessel, attach the airlock to the top. Make sure to fill the airlock approximately half full with water. This allows air to leave the carboy, but not come back in. Keep the brew in a warm area, between 70 and 80 degrees. The closer to 80, the faster the yeast works, and the quicker the beer will get done.
By the next morning, this is what it looked like. The yeast has been working hard, and it won’t be long before the beer is ready to bottle!