So, you want to make beer at home, but you don’t know where to begin? You might be making the switch from extract brewing or going straight to all-grain brewing. No matter what, there is a lot of information out there, and it can be hard to make sense of it all. The best thing to do is get familiar with the process and follow the steps below to learn all about the basics you need to know to get started.
History of Brewing Beer
Beer doesn’t just taste good; it also has a very interesting past. Brewing has been around in some form or another for thousands of years. There are recipes that date back to almost 2000 BC that show how to make beer. Beer became the most popular alcoholic drink in the world very quickly. Around 2 billion hectolitres of beer are brewed around the world every year.
Craft breweries, which are known for coming up with new tastes and often making beers with higher alcohol content, are starting to take over more of the market. For people who make their own beer, a good beer can be anything they like, since they don’t have to make it for others. So, what type of brewer do you want to be? The creator, the scientist, the wild one, or even the master from back in the day?
Let’s talk about the brewing process
Here’s a rundown of the basic parts of the brewing process. Keep in mind there’s a lot more to learn, but this will get you started quickly.
Even though it’s not the most fun part of making beer, sanitising with a home brew sanitizer is the most important. The last thing a brewer wants is a batch of beer to go bad due to bacteria or wild yeast that could easily be avoided with thorough sanitizing. Although as a term it’s often used interchangeably with cleaning, not all cleaners sanitize, while good sanitizers can do the cleaning too.
Yes, it’s true this adds yet another chore to your already long list of household chores, but if you clean as you go it becomes less of a hassle. Also, if you pay attention to the choice of product, and pick out a good home brew sanitizer that’s easy to use (e.g. comes with clear instructions, and makes for minimal efforts), affordable, and doesn’t have any perfumes or odours, then the chore turns even less demanding.
There are plenty of other options on the market, like no rinse sanitiser that reduces your cleaning time, and one with formulas that are gentle on the skin while also lack in staining ingredients which are all good properties to consider. Think of what is essential to you out of all this and you’ll find your ideal product.
Mashing is the process of turning complex starches in the grain into simple sugars that can be transformed into alcohol. The grains are immersed in warm water for an hour in a “Mash Tun.” The water is usually between 65°C and 68°C. Once the mashing is done, the grains are “rinsed” with new warm water to get all the sugars out of the grains.
Boiling cleans, sterilises, and adds a lot to the final composition of the wort, which controls many of the factors that affect the taste, body, and mouthfeel of the beer. It’s also where we add hops, which are very tasty.
To start fermentation, you move the cooled wort to a vessel for fermentation and add the yeast. Yeast turns the sugar in the wort into alcohol and CO2 during this process. At this stage, important flavour compounds are also being made. You can’t completely control how long fermentation takes, but you can control the temperature, which is a way of controlling the final product.
So, what are the main ingredients?
Surely you can be as creative as you want when you make your own beer, but you will need a few basic things to get started.
Malt is what most brewers use for their beers. It is made from grains that already have a lot of starch in them. The starch is used by brewers to make sugar, which is then used to make alcohol. However, many other types of malted and non-malted grains are also used.
Hops make beer taste like beer. They add flavour and smell to the beer and help keep it fresh for longer. Most of the time, hops are boiled in wort for an hour to an hour and a half. During this time, the “alpha acids” in the hops make beer bitter and keep it from going bad.
Another important part of brewing is the quality of yeast. This is what turns sugar into alcohol. Most places that sell yeast will tell you what kind of beer the yeast works best for the kind of project you’re getting involved with.
More than 85% of your beer is water, so it’s important that it’s clean and pure. The water has a lot to do with how good the beer is. With the right knowledge and changes, water can be the key to making a good beer into a great beer.
And what about the equipment?
Having the right gear and tools can make brewing at home a lot easier. With so many brewing systems and accessories on the market, it can be hard for someone new to the hobby to know where to start. Even if you don’t have an all-grain system yet, don’t worry. The most important tools you’ll need to start brewing are all based on the same basic ideas.
During the process of making wort, the wort is boiled in a brew kettle. We suggest picking a high-quality item, like one made of 304 stainless steel. The fact that it doesn’t rust or melt will prove its worth over time and make it last for years.
If you want to switch from extract brewing to all-grain brewing, you might also need a mash tun for the extra mashing process. Some systems, like the Grainfather G30, combine the kettle and mash tun into one piece. However, you can use a separate mash tun from your kettle.
A key piece of equipment for anyone who makes beer. The wort, which is made by letting malted grains soak in warm water, turns into alcohol in a container called a fermenter.
The packing process
For people just starting out, bottling is often the cheapest and easiest way to go. It also makes it easier to bring your latest homemade beer to a BBQ. Like everything else in brewing and cleaning with home brew sanitiser, bottles must be clean and free of germs. Luckily, this can be as easy as putting them in a clean dishwasher and washing them thoroughly. Bottles can be made of glass or plastic, and they can be used more than once.
Instead of putting beer in bottles, you can put it in kegs, which is more consistent and takes less time. Kegs can be connected to a tap and offered just like at your local brewery. It’s more of an investment, but it’s easy to do and gives you the right to brag the most. Think about your next get-together, where you share your latest beer during your next German-themed party from your home bar!