Brewing up a new batch sounds a lot harder than it actually is, fortunately, and today we are going to prove that fact by going through a step by step guide to making beer at home.
The Ingredients You Will Need
One can’t make beer without water, of course, but the water needs to be drinkable and shouldn’t have a high concentration of sulfur, iron, chlorine or bicarbonates by any means. If you are not sure about the tap water in your area for some reason, just use bottled water for the brewing to be safe.
As water plays a huge part in how the taste of the beer, advanced brewers tend to alter the chemical composition of the brewing water by adding minerals in the right proportion. As this would be your first batch, sticking with plain bottled water or distilled water is the best way to go.
Barley is necessary for the sugars it has, but we can’t just be using any barley out there, as it will not have the sugars and starches in the right quantities and proportions, which is necessary to brew beer.
You should be looking for malted barley, which are the grains specifically steeped and dried for brewing by professional malting companies. The ratio will differ when you mature and gain experience as a brewer, but for now, let’s go with the tried and tested 1:2 rule, which states that every gallon of water requires two pounds of barley.
Do try to buy malted barley grains that are already milled for your first batch though, or you will have to take them to a brewer who has the milling equipment necessary. You could invest in one if you want to, but the good ones are really expensive, and it may not be ideal to spend so much money even before you have learned how to brew your first batch.
Hop is readily available in the market, but we recommend getting an aromatic species of the hop flower if you can, as it adds a distinct floral flavor to the batch. For the most part, though, the primary job of the dry hop is to make your beer just bitter enough so that the taste counteracts the sweetness of the barley. As an additional benefit, adding hop will prevent the concoction from getting spoiled easily, which could otherwise be a real problem under certain weather conditions.
Your mix will not turn into beer unless you add this fungus because the microorganism is pretty much what will turn all that sugar into the drink we all love. While there is no lack of yeast species bred specifically for making beer in the world, the German Kölsch yeast is highly recommended. It will heighten the bitterness and the flavor of your hop, and your batch will turn out to be crisp just like the Kölsch lager it was used originally in Germany to brew. You can check for more info here on the White Labs website.
The Brewing Process
Put the malted barley in hot (not boiling) water to extract the sugars from the grains. Once the sugars have been completely extracted (as best as you can tell), the mash is complete.
After the sugar has been extracted, it is time to get rid of grains from the water and raise the heat until it starts to boil. Now, here’s where your steps will differ a bit, depending on the kind of hop you are using, but since we are using aromatic hops, you will allow the water to boil for an entire hour and once the heat has been turned off, only then should the hops be added to the water.
On boiling it for an entire hour, what you have right now is known as wort, which requires cooling to the perfect pitching temperature, and that is the hard part if you are not equipped properly since it has to be done under half-an-hour at the latest.
A common homegrown method is that of putting the boiling pot in a sink full of icepacks or just plain ice to cool it down quickly to a temperature that is ideal for pitching the yeast. As we are using the German Kölsch yeast for this batch, the pitching temperature you are looking for should range in between 18°C – 20°C (65° – 69°F).
Pitching the Yeast
Once the pitching temperature has been attained, it is time to pitch the yeast, which is a brewer’s term for adding the fungus to the wort. Transfer the wort into your choice of fermenting vessel first and then add the yeast to it. Seal the fermenting vessel with everything in it and put it away in a dark and cool place in the basement or the garage. Make sure that the place is dry as well because moisture will ruin your brew.
Wait for Two Weeks and Your Beer Will be Ready for Bottling
It generally takes two weeks for the yeast to consume all the sugar in the water and turn the entire thing into beer, but without the bubbles.
Put the beer into a bottling bucket and add a tiny bit of plain old cane sugar to the beer before sealing the lager inside individual beer bottles. Once again, store your beer bottles away in a cool and dry place and wait for a month. When you return to the bottles after a month, the fungus will have completely carbonated the beer by eating up all the cane sugar in the bottles. Each bottle is now ready to be opened and enjoyed.
Being completely newbie friendly, hopefully, this little guide will help you enough to at least get started on the right path. It will certainly not make you an expert at it, as only time and experience can get you there, but if you are careful with the steps and use good ingredients, even your first batch will likely turn out pretty good. Just in case it doesn’t though, learn what you can from it and start on the next batch as soon as possible.