Find out how to brew your own beer

Find out how to brew your own beer

Want to brew your own beer? It’s a great time to do it as grain harvests start coming in.

Maybe you’re even one of the lucky few to have your own hops yard, or your own homegrown grain stores.

But either way, brewing beer is definitely worth doing.

“Home brewing is part of our history and heritage,” Marcus Bezuhly, of Homebrewstuff.com, said. “In fact cultivation of beer ingredients were one of the first priorities of early settlers (in America). George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were both prolific home brewers.

“I personally find a romance to making something at home that most people take for granted by going to the store and buying off of the shelf,” Bezuhly said. “At the very least it makes you appreciate the time and effort that goes into making products from scratch.”

Sustainability

It is possible – with perhaps the exception of brewers yeast – to produce all the ingredients needed to practice home brewing on your homestead.

Apples from a small orchard can be used for cider, any number of grains can be used to make beer and any sugar producing fruit can be used for wine.

“There is a huge range of fermented beverages that can be made from home,” Bezuhly said.

Production

At its most basic form, brewing beer means making a wort with boiled grains and sugars – or the appropriate extracts – fermenting the wort by adding yeast and then filtering and bottling the finished product. Fermentation usually takes up to three weeks and involves keeping the fermenting wort free from oxygen, light and extreme temperatures.

A lot of home brewers ferment their wort in closets and garages, using vapor locks to keep oxygen from entering while allowing waste carbon dioxide to leave the fermenting bucket.

If CO2 cannot escape, brewers run the risk of explosions from the buildup of gases.

During all stages of the process, proper sanitation cannot be over emphasized.

“Clean everything, then sanitize it. When you are done, clean it again,” Bezuhly said.

Once the process is complete, filter the sediments out of the beer and bottle it.

Bottling your beer can be done in a couple of ways.

“The least expensive method is to recycle used beer bottles, clean, sanitize, refill and cap them. The alternative is to use kegs and bottled CO2 to store and carbonate your beer,” Bezuhly said.

You can also purchase flip-top bottles with attached stoppers.

Steps

The first step is to clean all your equipment, the spoons, the boilers, anything that will come in contact with your wort.

Then, mix your wort according to the instructions of your recipe (see the Blond Recipe from EDGE Brewing Co. in this magazine).

Boil your ingredients according to your recipe and then chill the wort in ice water and then transfer it to a fermenter. Many recipes recommend you strain the hops from the wort at this time.

“Pitch” or add the yeast. Some yeasts require “blooming,” where the yeast is added to warm water before adding it to the wort, similar to how yeast is proofed while making bread.

Cap off your fermenting bucket, being sure to place the vapor lock in place. In about 24 hours, you should see bubbles coming out of the air lock. If you do not see any activity in about 48 hours, then you have problems and need to start over. If this happens, consider getting new yeast, as dead yeast is one of the most common problems brewers face.

Allow the wort to ferment for at least a week, depending on the recipe. Once this happens, siphon the wort from your fermenting bucket into another – clean – container, leaving as much of the sediment in the fermenting bucket as possible.

Bottle your beer from the new container. Some home brewers have been known to filter the beer at this point using filter papers, but it depends on the recipe. At this point, a little sugar or dried malt extract is added to increase carbonation.

Cap off the bottles and allow it to age for about a week before refrigerating. As the beer refrigerates, more sediments may settle. Do not drink this material, as it is generally composed of dead yeast.

While you may be tempted to use bread yeast instead of baking yeast, it is not recommended. While the product will be alcoholic, it probably will not taste very well.

Outside of having a good recipe, that’s about it.

With a little effort and some investment, you will have your very own beer. With a little practice, you can produce a product enjoyable for you and your friends.

If you are interested in trying to brew your own beer, check out this recipe from Bezuhly.

Just like a lot of home production projects — think yogurt, kombucha, etc. — it may seem intimidating at first, but with a little bit of effort, you’ll have it down in no time.

The Blonde

  • Original gravity 1.051
  • Final gravity 1.013
  • Alcohol (by volume) 5.0%
  • Bitterness (IBU) 31
  • Color (SRM) 7.3°L

Ingredients:

5lb Light Liquid Malt Extract
1 lbs American Two Row
.5 lb Caramel 15°L
.5 lb Wheat Malt

1 oz Mt Hood Hops – Boil for 60 min (of 60 min total boil)
.5 oz Tettnanger Pellet hops – Boil for 30 min (of 60 min total boil)
.5 oz Tettnanger Pellet hops – Boil for 20 min (of 60 min total boil)
.5 oz Tettnanger Pellet hops – Boil for 10 min (of 60 min total boil)
1 tb Whirlfloc Tablet – Boil for 10 min (of 60 min total boil)
***If you have a coil immersion chiller, add 10min before boil is complete***

Yeast:

(Liquid) Wyeast 1056 American Ale -OR- (Dry) Safale-05  – Pitch into fermenter of cooled wort. Ferment at 65°F for 7 days. Rack to Secondary for an additional 7-14 days.

Procedure:

Heat 2.5 to 6.5 gallons (depending on the size of your kettle) of water to 155°.  Steep specialty grains in muslin bag for 30 minutes. Rinse grain with hot water and remove from kettle.  Add liquid malt extract and bring kettle to boil.  Once a good boil is going, add the first hops and start a timer.  Maintain a boil and add hops according to the schedule above.

***If you have a coil immersion chiller, add 10min before boil is complete*** 

When boil is complete, transfer wort to sanitized fermenter, then add water to make a total volume of about 5.25 gallons.  Pitch yeast into cooled wort (<75°F).  Ferment according to Schedule above.

Homebrewstuff.com offers kits to make the beer brewing process easier. Check out their beer equipment kit and the blonde ingredient kit.

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melissa
 

Melissa has a background in marketing, brand management, graphic design and photography. She left corporate America to pursue her dream of living a simpler life. Simpler doesn’t always mean easier but she enjoys every minute on her small homestead. She loves to cook, practice herbalism and gardening. Her passion is spreading the word about sustainable living and sharing her love of herbalism and living from scratch.

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