Step By Step Home Brewing Beer Instructions

It takes a while before you completely memorize every single step of the brewing process. So I decided to make available a quick home brewing instruction guide for all those who are just getting started and need some guidance.

There are three methods to brewing beer, all-grain brewing, extract brewing and kit brewing. This guide is for extract brewers. You should have a home brewing kit already, but if not you can look at the link on the sidebar that says home brewing equipment for a detailed list.

Last, if you need a visual, you can sign up to our e-letter and access our free step by step home beer brewing instruction videos… now let’s get started…

Step 1. Clean and Sanitize

First and foremost, you gotta remove just about every object from your work area so you can thoroughly clean using a clean cloth with water and mild soap. You’ll then want to rinse off the area with a wet rag until all the soap has been removed. Once everything is clean, you now have to sanitize.

Sanitizing kills 99.9% of bacteria not visible that cleaning doesn’t get rid of.

Once your work area is clean and sanitized, you’ll want to start cleaning and sanitizing your equipment. Normally the way I do this is by cleaning and sanitizing my fermenting bucket. If you use a carboy, I recommend picking up a bucket just for cleaning and sanitizing.

I fill up the bucket with water and add Iodophor. Then as I clean the rest of the equipment, I dump it into the bucket so it gets soaked in the iodophor solution while I boil.

80% of off-flavors in beer come from poor sanitation habits so don’t take this for granted.

Step 2. Steeping The Grains

Steeping GrainsYou gotta extract the sugars from your specialty grains before you mix your base malt into the water. To do this, you’ll want to grab a muslin bag and fill it up with your grains making sure that you don’t add more than one pound of grains to the bag. If you have more than one pound of specialty grains, then get extra muslin bags.

You then want to bring a couple gallons of water to a temperature of 155-165 F and soak the grain bag(s) in the hot water for 25 to 30 minutes.

You’ll want to stir  every once in a while without disturbing the grain bag.

Once this is done, remove the grain bag from the water and place it on a strainer on top of the pot. Take a cup of hot water and rinse of the grain bag. Once the grain bag is done dripping it’s time for the next step…

Step 3. Boiling And Mixing in Your Base Malts

Boiling Base MaltsOnce sugar gets into the water, the solution is called wort (pronounced wert). You’ll want to add more water to your pot and bring it to a boil. How much water depends on what your stove can handle. I normally like to boil 3-4 gallons and then topping off with water after the boil. With less water in the pot your beer will get darker and you won’t get much bitterness out of hops.

To bring to a boil, you’ll want to have the lid on to help it. However, as soon as you start to get a slow rolling boil you’ll need to remove the lid and keep it off. You want to be careful with boilovers at this point since foam will start forming and it will act like a lid trapping in the heat and making the wort rise.

Step 4. Adding Your Bittering Hops

Add Bittering HopsOnce your wort starts to boil it is time to add your bittering hops. You’ll need to boil the wort for at least 60 minutes, and most recipes will have you add hops as soon as the boil starts. However, if you are not boiling hops for 60 minutes then you should wait a few minutes before adding hops to make sure you’ll boil for at least 60 minutes.

Your bittering hops should be hops with high alpha acid units unless you are brewing certain styles of beer like Hefeweizens that don’t require much bittering hops in which case noble hops are used.

Step 5. Adding Your Finishing Hops And Other Finings

Finishing hops are usually added towards the end of the boil because we don’t want to extract bitterness out of them, we just want the aroma. Usually these are thrown into the wort about 15 minutes before it is done boiling, usually about 5 minutes before and sometimes 1 or 2 minutes before it is done boiling. Some recipes don’t have finishing hops at all.

Also, some styles of beer will have you add clarifying agents like Irish Moss to reduce the have in beer and make it look clear. Other recipes will also have you add extra Liquid Malt Extract 20 minutes before the end of the boil, also called the knockout.

Step 6. Cooling Your Wort

cool down wortBacteria grows easier at warm temperatures so as soon as the boil is over, place the lid back on the pot and remove from heat. The most effective way to cool down a wort is to submerge the pot in an ice bath and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. You’ll be adding new ice as it melts fast in the beginning until the wort cools and it reaches yeast pitching temperatures. Higher volume worts take longer to cool down, which is a drawback of boiling with more water.

Some people use wort chillers with a copper coil, however, these can waste a lot of water unless you recirculate ice cold water using a pump.

Step 7. Pitch your yeast

Pitching YeastIn home brewing, pitching simply means to pour. Once your wort has reached a temperature of 60-70 F you are ready to pitch your yeast. I recommend you use liquid yeast which comes in smack packs. It is good to prepare your yeast at the beginning of the boil if you are going to pitch straight from the pack although I recommend using a yeast starter. If you don’t use a yeast starter, just make sure you have enough yeast to ferment your wort.

Before you pitch your yeast, be sure to aerate the wort, which can be done by pouring wort back and forth between the boiling pot and the fermenting bucket a couple of times. Then you are ready to pitch your yeast.

Step 8. Ferment Your Home Brew

Beer FermentingTo ferment your brew you want to use a plastic lid with a grommet drilled hole and place an airlock in it. If you are using a carboy, then get a rubber stopper with a hole to place your airlock over it. Then store your bucket at 60-70 F for ales or 45-55 F for lagers.  The fermentation process takes about 10-14 days so it is time to be patient.

The only way you know your fermentation is done is by checking the gravity reading and making sure you hit your target gravity.

Step 9. Prime & Bottle Your Beer

Kegging BeerOnce the beer is done fermenting, you’ll need to either keg your beer or prime the beer and get it ready to bottle. You’ll need a bottling bucket that you can attach a filler tube. Before transferring your beer from the fermenter, prepare your priming solution by mixing in corn sugar with enough water to cover it (about a cup) and heat it up in the microwave. Once the solution becomes clear throw in the syrup into your bottling bucket so when you fill it up with beer it mixes up.

Then get a capper, sanitize your bottle caps and cap the beers as you fill them up…

Store the bottles at room temperature for another 2-3 weeks and voila… time to drink up and enjoy!

PS Dont’ forget to ‘like’ my How To Brew Video and subscribe to my YouTube channel…

15 Comments

  • jeff

    Reply Reply September 25, 2011

    jorge, I have another question for you.. Does it matter if using a coil type wort chiller if you cool the wort in the boil pot (takes much longer)or can you add the hot wort to your pail with the remaining water then cool it with the coil? I keep several gallons in the fridge before I brew.

  • Jorge

    Reply Reply September 26, 2011

    @jeff The only problem with transferring your wort to your pail is avoiding oxygen exposure while hot. I did something similar with my very first brew following directions from my local home brew supply store. It got an almost cardboard-like stale taste (not bad, but enough to be noticed)… It’s supposed to be hot side aeration, meaning the wort is exposed to oxygen while hot…

    What I started doing instead was to cool down the pot in an ice bath… that is a good method when you are doing partial boils. I would rather do ice baths than use a coil, but I’m now boiling 5+ gallons outside and the coil is a better option for convenience.

    Also, use ice cold water to run through the coil. Before I just used tap water and it would take me an hour+ to cool down my wort. Then I started using ice cold water and I cut down that time to 30-45 min. I created an ice bath and used a pump to push water through the coil.

    Hope that answers your question

  • tom beachnau

    Reply Reply November 4, 2012

    how do i get on your newsletter???

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply November 4, 2012

      @tom – I just added you. You should get an email with a link to confirm that you want to receive emails from us. Once you confirm, you’ll start getting the newsletters.

      Cheers!

  • sharon

    Reply Reply December 5, 2012

    Hi Jorge,
    This was useful, thank you for posting. Just a question if you want to add fruit flavor when would that get done in this process?

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply December 5, 2012

      @Sharon you can add fruit to the primary fermentor, though sometimes you can add it at the end of the boil or secondary…. The main concern with adding after the boil is that fruit may carry wild yeast so brewers may boil the fruit and make a purée… That may take away flavor of some fruits so an alternative is to soak the fruit in vodka and add that to the primary or secondary…. Cheers!

  • Calvin Deelah

    Reply Reply February 7, 2013

    hey jorge, can I use your graphics (citing you of course) for a technical writing lab?

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply February 7, 2013

      Sure…

  • Nicole

    Reply Reply February 14, 2013

    Hi Jorge,
    First I want to say thanks for the great information and thanks for making everything easy to understand!! When I can afford it I will look into buying your dvd’s,book,newsletters, etc.. so my husband can learn all he can, but I have to buy all the equipment and kettle first! Anyway I read in one of your newsletters about how many people make it too complicated and overwhelming and I couldn’t agree more.. You do a great job at breaking it down for dummies like me! :-) You obviously know your stuff,, Anyway I am setting my husband up with a Home Brewing Kit for his birthday this Sunday and after much research over the last few weeks I am pretty confident on what to buy. The only questions I have pertain to the secondary fermentation process. In your step by step you only do one fermentation step. Everything I read recommends doing the second for better tasting, looking beer. What do you think? Also is it better to do the first stage fermentation in a glass carboy rather than the plastic bucket? Thanks in advance! Nicole from Austin, TX

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply February 14, 2013

      Hi Nicole,

      Hmmm… where to start… ok, so wort chiller, is it necessary? well, I’ll put it this way… I went without when I first started and cooled down by making an ice bath in my kitchen sink. That’s when I was brewing extract and using a 20 qt pot. When I moved up to all grain and boiled in a 10 gallon kettle, I couldn’t fit that in my sink and a wort chiller was my only option. Wort chillers are only effective if you can get a source of ice cold water. Living in AZ, I have to make an ice bath and pump water through it so I can cool 5+ gallons in under 30 min… I lived in El Paso, TX and I assume Austin has similar summers, which means you’ll probably have to do the same with a wort chiller.

      I never bought bottles… instead I buy beer and keep the bottles… most beers come in thick brown bottles which is what you want… if the bottle is thin, it may not withstand the pressure from carbonation and pop (not a pretty scene, trust me)… sierra nevada pale ale or their torpedo IPA come in perfect bottles… sam adams are also good bottles… you’ll spend about as much buying bottles from a home brew store than buying a couple cases…

      Thief and tube… yes and no… it is a great troubleshooting tool. When you are just starting out, it’ll give you peace of mind. I personally rarely use my hydrometer unless I know something is wrong or if I’m doing some sort of experiment and need to keep data… but other than that, it’s not needed… (of course experience is a bit on my side on this one…)

      On Secondary… as the saying goes “Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay.”

      Secondary has its time and place… transferring to a secondary is not going to make a beer taste better. When people talk about secondary, they are usually referring to conditioning, letting the beer mature… that can be done partially in the primary fermentor and completed in a secondary fermentor, bottles, or in a keg. It’s not transferring to a secondary that makes the beer better as much as it is giving the beer enough time to mature… that’s why most of the time transferring to a secondary is a waste of time.

      Now, there are some reasons why you may want to transfer to a secondary, but they are not so much taste related as much as they are aesthetic related. If you bottle after 2 or 3 weeks from primary, you will probably get more yeast sediment in your bottles… if you transfer to a secondary and let the beer sit for a few weeks and let the beer clear, you’ll reduce the yeast sediment you get in the bottles, but it won’t completely eliminate it… I keg my beer so all the yeast sediment comes out when i pour the first pint or two and after that I get clear beer…

      In other words, don’t worry about secondary…

      For the first stage of fermentation, both plastic bucket or glass carboy work just as well… for secondary (if aging or adding fruit or both) glass is better since it does a better job at keeping oxygen out.

      Let me know if you have other questions :)

      Cheers!

  • Nicole

    Reply Reply February 14, 2013

    Also about the wort chiller, should I save my money? This is the kit from Austin Homebrew Supply I am going to purchase for him.. Good choice?

    http://www.austinhomebrew.com/product_info.php?cPath=178_33_52&products_id=12921

    The only things I am going to add are of course a large stainless steel kettle, a bottling bucket with spigot,(should I buy this or not?) bottles and I am unsure how important a thief and tube for hydro readings are?

    Thanks!

  • Nicole

    Reply Reply February 14, 2013

    Wow, thanks! That is very helpful.. I know for now at least, he is just going to bottle his beer because I don’t have the money to go buy him a nice kegging system. Almost every set up kit comes with a glass carboy for a secondary fermentation. The thief and tube aren’t very expensive so I will go ahead and buy those since we are total beginners. I would rather have piece of mind! My only question now is the best method of recipe to start out with. in one of your newsletters you talk about not rushing the sparging process, but in the steps above you say to simply run one cup of hot water over the grains. Lots of other info says to run lots of water slowly. I’m confused.

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply February 14, 2013

      One reason why there’s so much conflicting and confusing information is that there are different ways to brew beer… when I talk about sparging, I’m mostly referring to all-grain brewing… if you watch the video at minute 3:15, what I’m doing is sparging, which is essentially rinsing off the sugar from grains… with all grain brewing, I’m working with 9 to 10 pounds of grain and that’s where I’m getting all my sugar…

      In the steps I talk about extract brewing… where you buy malt extract (malt sugar like the stuff whoppers chocolates are made of), and use a pound or two of specialty grains to add flavor/color… since we’re only working with 1 or 2 pounds of grains, 1 cup of water is enough to rinse off…

      With all grain, sparging needs more attention since we need to make sure we extract all the sugar… with extract brewing, you don’t have to worry about that, since you add the sugar directly…

      Hope I didn’t confuse you further :)

  • Nicole

    Reply Reply February 15, 2013

    No actually that makes perfect sense! Thanks a lot.. I feel so much more knowledgeable already! After I commented I did some more research and I now understand more about the extracts, mini mash, all grain, etc.. I think for now we will start with extract then once we are more comfortable with the whole process, then we will move up to all grains! Thanks again and you will be hearing from me later I’m sure.. :-)

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply February 15, 2013

      I think that’s the best way… have fun brewing!

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field