How to Make Beer at Home
By Sakai Blue
, last updated January 9, 2012
If you’ve ever sat around drinking a few brewksis with the buds, and one of you said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could, like make our own beer?” that wasn’t the beer talking. Making beer at home is surprisingly easy to do, and the process doesn’t take a huge chunk of money out of your wallet. If you got bought the supplies today, you could have your own brew within a week. If you’d like to reduce your bar tab and come up with your own brew, read on to find out how you can make your very own beer at home.
What You Need
• Seven gallons of spring water (the quality of the water you choose will affect the taste of the beer! Avoid hard tap water)
• 2 ½ pounds of hop-flavored light or pale malt extract
• 5 lb. bag of sugar
• 1 packet of brewer’s yeast (or 2 depending on when you add the yeast)
• winemaker’s hydrometer (this will measure the sugar content in your brew once it’s fermenting)
• 6 ft. long plastic siphon hose
• bottle capper and caps
• large container with cover (i.e. bucket, pail or (new) garbage pail)
You can find the malt extract at the supermarket or at any liquor or wine stores that sell beer-making supplies. Make sure that you arrive home with 2 ½ pounds of malt extract, not malt. When buying the yeast, make sure that you buy the brewer’s yeast and not the type used for baking. The yeast contains saccharomyces, which are needed to make beer. The package of brewer’s yeast is cheap, and will cost you less than a dollar at the beer-making supply store.
Making Your Brew
Take your large container and set it aside. This is the “vat” where you’ll be fermenting the beer. Boil your seven gallons of water. Once boiled, pour it into your vat. Pour your bag of sugar into the water and let it completely dissolve. Take your can of malt extract, open it up and place it in a saucepan containing hot water. This will soften the malt.
Once the malt has warmed and softened, take this now syrupy mixture and more it into your vat. Mix everything together thoroughly. This malt solution is called “wort.” Once the wort has cooled to a lukewarm temperature, it’s time to add in the yeast. Add in two packets of yeast if you’re adding dry yeast into the wort. This will ensure that the mixture ferments thoroughly. If you prepare the yeast two days in advance as per the package instructions, you can just use the one package).
Once the yeast has been added to your vat, cover it tightly with its lid. If you don’t have a lid, use a plastic sheet and secure it tightly. Place the vat in a cool, dark area to let it sit. Every day check the mix to see if froth is forming on top of the liquid. If the froth is there, it means that fermentation is taking place and the sugar content is being reduced. This is exactly what you want to happen! Once the sugar level has dropped to 1% (as per the hydrometer) it will be time to bottle your beer. It may take the brew about a week to get to the 1% level, so be patient.
Once it reaches 1%, it means that most of the sugar has been converted to CO2. The percentage of sugar that remains will be just enough to allow fermentation to continue once the beer has been bottled. Secure and wash about 70 12-ounce beer bottles. You can get used ones, or check with recycling centers. Home brew makers find that Heineken bottles make the best containers because they can handle the fermentation that continues once the home brew is bottled. Sterilize the bottles by heating them in an oven for a few hours. You could also rinse them off using a germicidal solution like Campden. Make sure that you don’t forget to wash and sterilize the caps as well.
Siphon your beer into bottles. Make sure that the sediment that formed during fermentation does not get in. Cap your bottles, and store them in a cool dark area for about a week. Open a bottle every other day to see how much carbonation is forming. If you’ve opened up a liquid firecracker, that means that you bottled while there was still too much sugar in the bottle. That’s why it’s important that you use your hydrometer to take accurate sugar level readings. After about a week, you’ll be able to party with your new brew!