This brewing guide is designed to help the 1st time brewer make his or her first batch of beer. I am trying to keep it short and with as few "beer" words as possible. I will be emphasizing the basics of Homebrewing, but not going into the details of why it is done this way. If you want to know more, I suggest reading "How to Brew" by John Palmer, or take our Beginning Brewing Class.
Listed below is the equipment necessary for brewing 5 gallons of beer, which is the standard batch size.
Included in our Beginning Brewing Kit .
2 6 Gallon Glass or Plastic Better Bottle Carboys
1 Rubber Cork With Airlock (S Shaped Plastic, To Fit The Carboy)
1 Solid Rubber bung (better bottle only)
1 Fermometer (Temperature Strip To Monitor Temp. Of Beer)
1 Hydrometer Jar (for easier reading of the hydrometer)
1 Hydrometer (Measures sugar content of beer, which helps you determine alcohol content)
1 Disposable muslin grain bag
1 Bottle Capper
1/2 Pound Bottle Caps
1 Auto-Siphon, 4 foot Hose and shut-off clamp
1 Fermtech Bottle Filler
1 Carboy Brush (NOT included in plastic carboy kit)
1 2 oz. PBW (Powdered Brewers Wash) Cleaner
1 4 oz. Bottle Iodophor Sanitizer
Additional equipment included in Master Brewing Kit
1 Large (8 inch) funnel (that fits into the glass carboy)
1 Handled strainer (that fits inside the funnel)
1 Beer Thief (for taking samples out of the carboy)
1 "How to Brew" by John Palmer
1 18” long brewing spoon
1 Long Stem Thermometer with clip
Additional equipment included in Ultimate Brewing Kit
1 5 Gallon Thin Wall Stainless Steel pot
1 20 Foot Wort Chiller
48 12 Oz beer bottles
Here are the ingredients for your first 5 gallon batch of homebrew. This recipe is for a beer we call NorthWest Pale Ale. (Similar to Mirror Pond/Sierra Nevada)
- Pounds Light malt extract syrup
2.0 Pounds Light dry malt extract
1 Pound (20L) Crystal malt (crushed in store)
1/2 Pound (40L) Crystal malt (crushed in store)
1/2 Pound Cara-pils malt (crushed in store)
1/2 Pound NW Pale malt (crushed in store)
1/2 Ounce Perle hops (boil 60 minutes, for bitterness)
1/2 Ounce Perle hops (boil 30 minutes for flavor & bitterness)
3 Ounce Cascade hops (boil last 5 minutes, for hop aroma)
1 Teaspoon Irish Moss (boil 60 minutes for clarity)
1 WLP001 California Ale yeast
3/4 cup corn sugar for bottling
Sanitation is the most important process in brewing great beer. Everything that your beer comes in contact with must be clean and sanitary. The Iodophor sanitizer works well to sanitize your equipment, and does not require rinsing. Make your sanitizing solution when you start, and use it during the entire brewing process. When the color of the solution becomes clear, it no longer is useful. Hoses, carboys, strainers, funnels, and airlocks all need to be sanitized. Anything that will come in contact with your beer after you are done boiling needs to be sanitized. A 10 minute soak in the sanitizer solution will sanitize your equipment. Clean and sanitary are two different things. Clean means you have no visible residue on the surface of your equipment. Sanitary means all bacteria, mold and wild yeast are killed or neutralized. Clean your equipment after every use with PBW or Straight A. Sanitize your equipment before you use it. If you sanitize properly, you will consistently make great beer!
A special word about glass vs. plastic fermenters.
Plastic “carboys” are a new type of fermenter that are “hydrophobic”, which means they repell liquids. This means they do not get as dirty as glass carboys. However, you CANNOT use a brush to clean the plastic carboys, since a brush will scratch the inside of them. Use a percarbonate cleaner like PBW (included) to clean them when you are done with them. Fill the bottle with about a gallon of warm water and 1 Tablespoon PBW, and put the solid bung on. Shake the bottle to get the interior coated, release any pressure, and then let set for up to an hour upside down to clean the neck area. Then rinse and sanitize. Please note that the 6 gallon glass fermenters are actually about 6 ½ gallons volume to the base of the neck, and the plastic carboys are 6 gallon volume to the base of the neck.
Brew day will take about 2 hours from start to clean up.
Fermentation will take 10 to 14 days, you may wait longer till you are ready to bottle
High temperatures (above 72º) will speed up fermentation, but is not desirable for flavor of beer
Bottling day will take about 1 1/2 hours. Approximately 7 days later you can drink your beer!
- Start brewing. Remove the package of White Labs WLP001 California Ale yeast from the refrigerator and set out at room temperature to warm up. Fill your brewing pot with about 2 gallons of hot water. Add the 4 cracked malted grains together into the muslin bag, tie off, and drop in to the brewpot, turn the heat to low and let the malts steep for about 30 minutes. 150° is the preferred temperature, but don’t worry if you don’t have a thermometer. Avoid boiling the malts.
- While your grain is steeping, clean the inside of one of your 6 gallon glass carboys, then sanitize it by filling it with 1 Tablespoon Iodophor and about 6 gallons of cold water (fill to the very top). (Tip: fill one gallon at a time, try to mark the 5½ gallon level) Let it soak for about 10 minutes and then dump all of the sanitizing solution into a sink or other container to sanitize the rest of your equipment. Put your sanitized airlock on the carboy, with the airlock filled with sanitizing solution to keep your carboy sealed from airborn bacteria.
- Remove the bag of the malted grains from the brewpot when the 30 minute steeping is done. Throw the malted grain onto the compost pile.
- Turn heat to high and bring the beer (the beer is actually called wort at this stage) to a boil.
- When beer has started to boil, slide the pot off the hot burner to avoid scorching the malt extract. Add about 2 cups of the Light malt extract powder, 1 teaspoon Irish Moss, and 1/2 ounce of the Perle hops to the beer. (This hop addition is where most of the bitterness, but little of the aroma is added to beer.) Stir the malt to completely dissolve it in the water. Return the pot to the burner and heat to a boil. Do not put the lid on your pot unless you want a boil over!! The addition of the malt extract powder will lower the temperature in the pot, and will take a few minutes to return to a boil.
- Let boil for a total of 60 minutes. Have a pint of your favorite beer---you deserve it!!
- With about 30 minutes to go, add 1/2 ounce of Perle hops (the bag is 1 ounce) to the beer. This hop addition increases hop flavor (some bitterness, some unique flavors)
- Also with about 15 minutes to go, fill the sanitized carboy with about 2 gallons of cold water (the colder the better). Put funnel, strainer, beer thief and a saucepan in the sanitizing solution to soak. If you have a copper wort chiller, place it into the boiling beer to sanitize it now.
- With about 7 to 8 minutes left in the boil, add the remaining malt syrup and dry malt extract. Stir to mix the malt syrup and dry extract evenly in the beer. The dry malt extact tends to clump up, so stir it in as you slowly pour it in the beer to more easily dissolve the dry malt extract. When you have the malt extract completely dissolved, now add all 3 ounces of Cascade hops to your beer with 5 minutes left in the boil. (This addition of hops is for that awesome hop aroma!).
- If you have a wort chiller, now attach the end to a cold water faucet, and run cold water through the chiller until your beer is about 85° to 90°, then remove the wort chiller.
- Place your sanitized funnel on the carboy and a sanitized strainer in the funnel. Using your sanitized saucepan, ladle the beer into the carboy through the strainer. Discard the hops and any of the malted grains that may be left. Top off the carboy with cold water to the 5½ gallon mark you made when you first sanitized the carboy. Your goal here is for the beer to be 75° to 78° (This should leave you about 7 inches from the very top of the glass carboy, or about 2”-3” below the shoulder of the glass carboy – about 3 inches below the neck on the plastic carboy)
- Mix up the beer in the carboy thoroughly. Draw out enough beer using a sanitized beer thief to float the hydrometer in it's tube. Take a reading where the hydrometer floats at the water line. (it should be 1.000 in water on the specific gravity scale). Your reading should be approximately 1.050. The beer settles in just a few minutes, so take your reading immediately after mixing. Write the specific gravity down for later use. Original Specific Gravity_______
- Place a sanitized airlock and cork in the mouth of the carboy and fill the airlock with some of the sanitized water to create a water barrier. Let the beer cool until the temperature on the fermometer shows 78º or cooler. (this is almost immediately when you have cold tap water in the winter--in the summer it may take a few hours). You can speed up the cooling process by putting the carboy in the sink and wrapping a wet towel around it. Additional cooling can be achieved by placing ice cubes in the neck area under the towel. It is better to cool the beer to between 75º and 78º quickly so you can add the yeast.
- When beer is 75º to 78º it is time to add the yeast. Be sure that you have allowed the yeast to warm to room temperature prior to adding it to your beer. Put a sanitized funnel in your carboy to make it easier to pour the yeast into your beer. Dip the yeast package in sanitizing solution for a few minutes, and then open the yeast, and gently pour the yeast into the beer. Do not stir the yeast into the beer, allow it to slowly mix into the beer. Fermentation should start in about 10 to 20 hours. Ferment your beer at room temperature, about 68º-70°. Avoid temperatures above 72º and below 64º.
- Fermentation should last about 7 to 10 days. It is possible, and quite likely, for the fermentation to be shorter or longer. Warmer temperatures cause a faster fermentation. The best way to determine when your beer is done fermenting is to take a hydrometer reading of your beer at this time, and if it is between 1.012 and 1.016 the beer is most likely done fermenting. When your hydrometer reading is stable for 2 days in a row, and close to the recipe’s suggested ending gravity, your beer is done fermenting. An easy, but less reliable way to tell if fermentation is done is to time how fast the bubbles come out of the airlock. When the bubbles have slowed to longer than 60 seconds between bubbles, your beer is likely done fermenting. I still recommend checking this with a hydrometer. It is a good idea to be patient, and wait about another 3 days after fermentation has ended to allow the beer to clarify, and to complete the flavor production.
- Bottling Day! Clean and sanitize your second carboy, auto-siphon with hose, and your bottle filler with Iodophor as in step 2. Clean your beer bottles of residue, and sanitize in the same solution that you sanitized your carboy. Soak the bottles and bottle caps in the Iodophor solution for 10 minutes, then drain them for about 10 minutes before filling.
- Boil 3/4 cup of corn sugar in 2 cups of water for 5 minutes. The addition of this sugar to your beer will cause fermentation to re-start in the bottle and carbonate your beer.
- Put full carboy of beer on table, and empty sanitized carboy on the floor underneath it. Siphon the beer into the empty carboy using your sanitized siphon assembly. You are trying to separate the beer from the sediment on the bottom of the carboy, so try not to mix up the beer at this time. The sediment tip on the siphon assembly allows you to set the siphon assembly on the sediment, and suck only a small amount of sediment into your beer. Avoid splashing the beer. After you get about 1/2 a gallon siphoned into the carboy on the floor, add the corn sugar mixture to the same carboy and finish siphoning the beer into it. Mix this sugar gently in the full carboy to get an even carbonation in all the bottles. While you are siphoning this take another hydrometer reading. The original reading you took earlier (see #12), minus the final reading, multiplied by .125 gives you an estimated alcohol content by volume. (this beer should be about 1.050 starting and 1.014 ending) 1.050 minus 1.014 = 36. 36 x .125 gives you an alcohol content of 4.5% by volume. Final Specific Gravity_______
- Put the full carboy up on the table. Put the siphon assembly into the beer, and the bottle filler on the end of the siphon hose. Fill the bottles to the top with the bottle filler, when you remove the bottle filler from inside the bottle, the beer will be about 1½ inch from the top. Then cap the bottles.
- Let the bottles age at room temperature (65º to 80º) for 1 week to carbonate. Temperatures below 65° will be too cool for the yeast to carbonate the beer.
Chill and drink!!! There will be yeast sediment in the bottom of the bottle, so pour the beer into a glass in one motion so you don't mix the sediment into the beer. Drink and enjoy!
Your beer will improve with age for a few weeks. Store it cool if you can and you will have great beer for 6 months or more. Cheers!