How To Make Beer at Home (Easy and Basic Step-by-Step)
Making beer at home is an excellent way to partake in a new hobby while also getting to personalize your beverage of choice. The process might seem a bit intimidating at first, but by following the below steps, you’ll be able to make excellent-quality beer at home in no time.
To make beer at home, first, gather your equipment and ingredients. Then, sanitize everything, fill the kettle and heat the water, mash the mixture, remove the grains, and boil the wort. Afterward, let the wort chill and ferment. Bottling follows shortly after.
Homebrewing doesn’t need to be daunting. In this article, I’ve broken down how to make beer at home in an easy and basic step-by-step process.
1. Gather Your Equipment
Making beer is an art, and art requires the correct tools. Gathering your equipment before you start brewing ensures you’ll have everything you need on hand when you need it.
Additionally, many of the tools necessary for beer-making are specialized and made solely for brewing. You may need to make a trip to the market (or Amazon).
The necessary tools for making your own beer are:
- A brewing kettle: A vessel for boiling the wort.
- A fermenter with an airlock: The bucket where your beer ferments. The airlock prevents oxygen from getting into the brew and damaging the beer during fermentation.
- A stir spoon: Used for stirring; the spoon keeps the brew from overflowing during the boil.
- A hydrometer: Measures the beginning and ending gravity of your beer, helping you know when fermentation is complete
- An auto-siphon: This tool seamlessly moved your brew from vessel to vessel
- Sanitizer: Serves the essential purpose of keeping equipment clean
- Bottles: Once the beer is brewed, you’ll need to move it to bottles
- Bottle caps: For sealing the bottles and keeping the beer fresh
If you’re interested in learning more about the fermentation process and how long it takes, watch the video below:
You will, of course, also need ingredients. The elements required depend on precisely how you plan to make your beer.
Some brewers use a beer kit, which will require different additives.
2. Gather Your Ingredients
Homebrew is the alchemy that turns raw materials into a distinct and unique beer. Every kind of beer uses the same core ingredients:
The quality and types of these ingredients you select determine the kind of beer you’ll make.
Malt provides many of the foundational properties of your beer. Every aesthetic aspect of your brew depends on the malt. Malt gives beer color, taste, and its foamy top.
Most importantly, malt provides the sugars necessary for the fermentation process.
Hops add flavor and bitterness to beer. Hops are flowers harvested from the Humulus lulus plant that lends a brew stability and helps clarify it.
The primary purpose of the ingredient is to enhance the taste of the beer, and how it impacts the beer depends on the type of hops used.
Yeast creates the alcohol in beer by eating up the sugars from the malt. The chemical reaction caused by introducing yeast into your brew creates both alcohol and carbonation.
Yeast contributes flavor and scent to your pint as well.
Water holds it all together. The liquid is the canvas you’re using to create your masterpiece, so use the good stuff.
Tap water works, but for the best beer, splurge and use filtered or bottled water.
3. Clean Everything
You are making something people will ingest, so you should thoroughly sanitize all of your equipment. Additionally, beer is susceptible to infections that can ruin your hard work.
Ensuring your equipment is impeccably clean combats intrusive bacteria attempting to destroy your brew.
The best homebrewing sanitizers don’t require rinsing, so that you can use them immediately after the cleaning process.
Some of the best options are:
- BTF Iodophor
- IO Star
- Star San
Sanitize frequently. Any time a stirrer or tool is used and removed from the liquid, it should be re-sanitized.
4. Fill Your Kettle
Pour 7.2 gallons (32.73 L) of water into your brewing kettle. If you use bottled water, allow it to sit for 24 hours. This will remove chlorine, which creates chlorophenols in your brew.
Chlorophenols will ruin your beer. The compound makes beer taste like:
These flavors are not popular in craft beers, and removing chlorine from your water helps prevent them. Adding half a Campden tablet to your water also helps remove chlorine.
5. Heat Your Water
Achieving the perfect water temperature is essential for the mash phase of beer brewing. Shoot for between 150° and 155°F (65.55° – 68.33°C).
Use this time to bring your yeast up to room temperature.
6. Mash the Mixture
Add your grains to the hot water to create a mash. The grains can form clumps as you add them, so stir as you go for a smooth texture.
The grains will lower the temper of the liquid, so you’ll need to allow time for the mixture to regain lost heat and climb to 170°F (76.66°C). This should take about an hour.
The mash phase serves the essential purpose of releasing the sugars in your grains. These sugars ferment and create alcohol. The newly formed liquid is called wort.
7. Remove the Grains
Your grains have done their work and served their purpose, and it’s time to remove them from the equation.
If you’ve used a grain basket, allow it to hang above the kettle so that the wort can drain off the grain and back into the vessel.
Brewers holding their grains in bags should allow the wort to drip off but never squeeze it free, as that releases tannins.
8. Boil the Wort
Bring your wort to a rolling boil. Brewers add hops to the beer during the boiling phase.
Hop schedules vary from recipe to recipe, but generally, we add the ingredient for three unique purposes: bittering, flavoring, and adding aroma.
Bittering hops enter the brew first. These grains need between 30 and 60 minutes to boil.
Check your recipe to ascertain the time, but keep in mind that most recipes will use the time left in the boil to indicate when to add the hops.
For example, hops that need 60 minutes need to be added at the point where the beer only has 60 minutes left to boil.
Bittering hops temper a beer’s sweetness. Every type of beer contains some of the ingredients. These grains help preserve your beer and prolong its lifetime.
Flavoring hops don’t boil long enough to contribute any bitterness to the brew. These grains add a crisp taste to the beer without the bite.
Precisely how much flavor they add hinges on how long you boil them.
Brewers add flavoring hops when the boil has between 13 and 30 minutes remaining.
Aroma hops serve the exact purpose the name suggests, contributing a pleasant smell to your beer. The grain’s oil provides the scent.
This substance evaporates quickly and easily, so you should only add it very near the end of the boil.
Generally speaking, it’s best to add aroma hops with about five minutes of boil remaining or at flame out.
9. Chill the Wort
Before you can add yeast, you need to chill the wort. The yeast needs cooler temperatures to survive, and your wort was just boiling.
Rapidly cooling the wort also induces a cold break. Cold breaks cause undesirable solids to sink to the bottom of the brew. This step helps ensure a clearer finished beer.
Different beer yeasts work better at different temperatures; for ale yeast, cool the wort to between 68 and 72°F (20° – 22.22°C); for lager yeast, cool the wort to 45° to 57°F (7.22 – 13.88°C)
Cooling the wort is relatively simple via one of two methods: cooling it in the sink or using a wort chiller.
Cooling Your Wort in the Sink
This method works best with small batches of beer. Fill your sink with cold water and place your kettle into the water. Gently stir the water; the heat will transfer from your kettle to cool water.
The water must be cool to lower the wort’s temperature, so change it every five to seven minutes.
Once the kettle is cool to the touch, add ice to the water. Use three to four pounds (1.36 – 1.81 kg) of ice for each gallon of wort you’re cooling. Add more ice as the cubes melt.
Once the kettle is cool, begin testing the temperature of your wort. You don’t want the liquid to fall below the prescribed temperature, so take frequent readings.
A wort chiller is an investment, but it may be a worthwhile expense if you intend to make larger quantities of homebrew.
Wort chillers work significantly faster than all their counterparts. Additionally, moving larger tubs or kettles of hot wort to a sink may result in spillage or burns. The wort chiller goes into the tub.
A wort chiller is a coil of tube with two openings. Attach one opening to a water source and keep the other in a sink or bucket-any vessel that can catch water.
Sanitize the chiller first, then submerge it in the hot wort. Turn on your cold water source.
The chilled fluid moves through the coil, absorbing the surrounding wort’s heat, then pushing through to the discarded liquid vessel.
The continuous flow ensures a steady source of cooling water continually seeping the heat from the wort.
Stir the wort every five minutes to ensure even cooling. Begin taking temperature readings once your kettle is cool to the touch.
Test the temperature every five minutes until you’ve achieved the desired level.
Once your wort is chilled to the appropriate temperature, pour the liquid into your fermentor.
Separate a small sample to determine your beer’s beginning gravity. Stir your wort for necessary aeration.
I told you earlier to sanitize everything, and I meant everything; make sure you’ve sanitized your yeast packet and the scissor you use to cut it open.
Pour the opened yeast packet directly into the fermenter and give the wort another stir or shake for further aeration. This helps your yeast access the oxygen necessary for fermentation.
Seal up the fermenter, but add an airlock. The airlock is essential; it provides an outlet for carbon dioxide while preventing contaminants from entering the brew.
11. Determine the Gravity
While this may be the quickest and simplest step, it’s among the most important. Retrieve the sample of your beer and use your hydrometer to measure the brew’s gravity.
Just be sure your beer’s temperature matches the hydrometer’s level. Write the number down and do not lose it.
Waiting is a frustrating reality of homebrewing. While it may be difficult, patience is essential to a delicious finished product. Allow your homebrew two weeks to ferment.
Once that measure of time elapses, grab your hydrometer; it’s time for another reading.
Measure the gravity; fermentation is complete if the measurement is between one-quarter and one-fifth of the original reading.
This step is optional; if you’re in a hurry to enjoy your brew, you can skip it. However, cold-crashing helps clear your beer.
Lower the temperature of your beer to 33°F (0.55°C), and maintain that coolness for four days. This will clear your brew of stray particles.
14. Bottle the Beer
Your beer is very nearly done and now needs to be bottled. Begin by preparing a priming sugar solution.
The priming sugar solution is essentially a simple syrup; just add the ingredient into boiling water, then cool.
The priming sugar completes the carbonation process in the bottle, so do not forget to add it to your beer. Once the solution is cool, mix it into your brew.
Transfer your beer from its kettle into a bottling bucket. This will further mix your priming sugar and set you up for optimal bottling.
Bottling buckets have a convenient spigot that lets you cleanly transfer your brew into your bottles.
Sanitize your bottles and caps, and begin to pour your beer. Fill the bottles to the top-the siphon preserves the necessary air space. Cap the bottles.
Store your beer at room temperature for at least two weeks.
The carbonation process needs to be completed in the bottle, and you need to allow adequate time for the process to finish. Refrigerate the bottles until they’re cool.
You did it! Your beer is done, and now you get to try it. You’ve gone through a lot of time and effort to get to this point, so, hopefully, you’ve achieved the level of quality and personalization you’ve hoped for. If not, you can always use this as a learning experience and improve your skills in the next batch you make.
Making beer at home takes time and patience. However, by following these basic steps, you can craft your own brews, create new and original beverages, and impress your friends.
Remember to sanitize often and remain patient for the best possible beer.