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
You 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
Once 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
Once 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
Bacteria 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
In 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
To 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
Once 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…