The Simple Process of Home Brewing
How would you like 48 bottles of beer for as little as 20 bucks? If you're tired of paying top dollar at the grocery store, home brewing could be for you.
Home brewing is an inexpensive way of producing beer that can taste just as good as the beer big corporations make. Even better, you can customize it to your taste rather than having to settle for bland, mass-marketed beers. If you're worried it might be too difficult to brew your own beer, don't be: it's simpler than you might think, and this article will walk you through it.
Home brewing takes 3 steps: boiling together the ingredients, cooling the resulting mix, and adding yeast for fermenting. That's it!
Step 1 - Boil Ingredients
The boiling stage requires a home-brewing kettle, which costs from $35-400. Mix together water, hops, and yeast. The result is called wort, and is boiled for at least 15 minutes (though for best results, you should allow at least an hour).
Step 2 - Cool Ingredients
Next, you have to cool the wort to no more than 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) and preferably as low as 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius). This has to be done quickly and without exposing the wort to the atmosphere. You will need to use a thermal heat exchanger, which is a type of copper tubing that is dipped into the wort. Cold water then flows through the tubing.
Step 3 - Ferment
Once the wort is cooled, you have to pour it into a fermenting vessel, a type of container used specifically for home brewing. The pouring must be quite quick and firm to make sure the wort is aerated.
Sprinkle the yeast into the wort and seal the fermenting vessel. The fermentation process produces carbon dioxide, which bubbles through a special lock at the top of the vessel. For ideal home brewing, the vessel should be stored in temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) for ale and 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) for lager.
Fermentation takes a few days. You can tell it is complete when there is a layer of sediment (trub) at the bottom, and the foamy head at the top has disappeared completely. At this stage of home brewing, siphon the beer into a different vessel to remove the trub and allow the beer to age. This usually takes 2-4 weeks. Then carbonate the beer, either by adding corn sugar or using a special keg to force carbon dioxide into the brew.
When you taste your brew, you'll notice an immediate difference: it's literally alive. When commercial brewers make beer, they have to pasteurize it; this kills off all the yeast and removes the carbonation. In home brewing, you keep the yeast alive, allowing the beer to age over time as wine does.
Although the home-brewing process is relatively simple, please bear in mind this is only a guide. Your local home-brewing supplier (or website retailer) will be able to give you more detailed instructions for the specific ingredients you use. There are a wide variety of kits available, some of which are aimed specifically at beginners.