Beer: Getting Started with Homebrewing
No matter your beverage of choice, there is nothing better than cracking open a cold drink on a hot summer day or after a long day at work.
For many, that beverage of choice is beer.
Beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world. Today, beer is the third most widely consumed drink in the world behind water and then tea. Did you know that Archeologists have evidence of beer consumption dating further back than ancient Egypt when beer was first written about on ancient tablets?
Beer being such an old and revered beverage, it’s no wonder that home-brewing is a widely popular hobby. From touring craft breweries to build-your-own six-packs at grocery stores, beer tasting, and beer drinking has rapidly grown in popularity over the last 20 years. It started with microbreweries, craft breweries, and local brews. Now brewing beer at home is the current trend in beer drinking.
Of course, we are going to jump on that train here at Makers Make Stuff!
What Is Beer?
Beer is a fermented beverage made up of a few simple ingredients, barley, water, hops, and yeast.
The problematic part of beer making, like other ferments, is the fermentation process. Things can go sour (literally) during the fermentation stage. Like other hobbies, home-brewing is not something you perfect at once. Brewing beer at home takes practice and patience. For the beginning homebrewer, we recommend starting with a home-brew kit. A beer brewing kit is going to include all of the ingredients necessary to make the perfect first batch of beer. Building your confidence with a home-brew kit is the ideal first stepping stone before diving deeper into the hobby with different recipes, types of beer, and higher alcohol content.
Before long, you’ll find yourself more comfortable with the beer brewing process and find yourself ready to try more complex flavor profiles in your home brews.
Steps to Brewing Beer:
The process of brewing beer is a bit complicated, but try not to be intimidated, a lot of beautiful things are complicated and worth the effort! When you graduate from beer brewing kits to more complicated recipes, you gain more control over the process and thus more control over your beer types and alcohol levels, etc.
Getting From Grains to Beer
- The combination of yeast, barley, hops, and water begins the process. The yeast enzymes convert the sugars in the barley into alcohol. Lactic acids are what gives sauerkraut its tangy flavor. Ethanol or Alcohol fermentation is what gives beer its fizz and alcohol content.
- Malting: This is the process where the grains are heated, dried, and cracked. The malting process is done for you already when you buy beer brewing kits or buy grains made explicitly for brewing beer. Malting makes the sugars in the grains ready and available for the yeast.
- Make your Wort: The Grains are steeped in hot (not boiling) water for a certain amount of time, usually an hour. Steeping the grains in hot water releases all the flavors and sugars from the grains into the water. This beer tea is called a “wort.”
- Boil and add your Flavors: The next step in the beer-making process is boiling your wort and adding your hops and other flavor characteristics such as spices, or citrus. If you’ve ever had an IPA or India Pale Ale, extra hops are what give that beer its bitter floral taste. Most beers are flavored with some hops to balance out the sweetness of the sugars in the wort.
- Fermentation: The wort is then cooled and filtered and placed inside a fermentation container. The brewing process is finished, and the fermentation stage begins. Fermentation takes several weeks for the yeast to consume all of the sugars in the wort, giving off CO2 and alcohol in the process. The beer must sit for several weeks to months for enough Co2 to build up to carbonate your beer.
The Importance of Sanitation
All along throughout the process of brewing beer at home, you must keep all of your equipment clean and sanitized. The introduction of bacteria to your beer-making equipment ruins your beer.
Starting with A Home Brew Kit
Now that you understand the basics of home-brewing beer, we’ve curated a few starter kits for beginning your home-brew hobby.
If you live in an area with a lot of local breweries, check locally. Many breweries sell home-brew kits in their gift shops!
Mr. Beer: American Lager Complete Beer Making Kit:
We love this beginner kit because it comes with everything ( and we mean everything) needed to brew two gallons of American Lager right at home. Many great beer-making kits don’t include the fermentation vessels or bottles, and you have to buy those separately. Mr. Beer kits come with their signature little brown keg for fermenting your home brewed beer and 11 bottles with caps. This kit even comes with a disinfectant to keep your bottles and fermenting keg sanitized. Follow the step-by-step instruction booklet to be on your way to drinking homemade American style Lager.
Northern Brewer Deluxe Homebrew Starter Kit:
If you love beer and anticipate that you’re going love home brewing, this deluxe kit is perfect for you. The Northern Brewer kit comes with everything you need to make 5-gallons of a citrus IPA. This kit requires a second fermentation period to create carbonation in your beer. This kit does require that you have a 5-gallon pot to boil your wort. You will also need to purchase bottles and caps separately. The northern Brewer Deluxe kit can brew up to 50 12-oz bottles. We also recommend that you buy extra sanitizer so you can clean your equipment over and over again.
Craft A Brew: A Brew Home Brewing Kit for Beer
We love this kit because it comes with choices, and who doesn’t like having options. You can choose from 12 kinds of beer including, American Pale Ale, Bone Dry Irish Stout, Brown Ale, Chocolate Milk Stout, Gluten-Free Ale, Hard Cider Kit, Hefeweizen, O.G. Orange Golden, Oak Aged IPA, Oktoberfest Ale, Single Hop IPA, or White House Honey Ale. Once you choose your brew, this kit comes with everything to make your wort and ferment your beer. With this kit, you will need to purchase your bottling supplies separately. The Craft A Brew kit only makes 1 gallon of beer, so if you’re reluctant to start out making 5 gallons of home-brewed beer, this kit is perfect for you.
Making Beer At Home
If you love craft brews and you’re looking for a new hobby to start at home, start exploring the art of home-brewing. Try out a beginner’s kit, and once you get the basics of home-brewing, you can play around with different grains and recipes and dive into the complexities of this ancient beverage.