Ever been party to a homebrewing disaster? It happens. You open the cap and out spews — well, something unidentifiable, and definitely not drinkable. How to brew beer that doesn’t suck is something anyone can do, but you need to do it right if you don’t want all that time and effort going to waste. Here’s how to start brewing at home right away.
In this article:
- Get Together Your Own Homebrew Kit
- What Ingredients Do You Need To Make Beer?
- Avoiding the Most Common Mistakes
How To Brew Beer | Homebrewing Instructions
Get Together Your Own Homebrew Kit
There are countless DIY home beer brewing systems, but not all of them are going to be effective or safe. As a beginner, you’re better off getting an actual kit. Why reinvent the wheel? Once you have a kit, you can start modifying it to your heart’s content, until it’s truly your setup. For now, start with the basics.
A simple homebrewing kit doesn’t have a lot of parts, but all of them are critical. It’s like a car. You need the engine and the wheels for it to run. In your homebrew car you can expect to have:
- A fermenter. Sounds fancy, right? It’s basically a bucket.
- An airlock. This is actually important, for science.
- A bung. The airlock is secured to the bunghole. Stop laughing.
- A brew pot. Some cooking will be necessary. Manly cooking.
- A heat source. This doesn’t necessarily come with the kit; presumably you have an oven.
- A siphon and tubing. You’ll need to transfer liquids.
Optionally, you may also want equipment like a hydrometer, which is going to give you valuable information about your brew. Hydrometers let you do things like calculate just how potent your brew is.
All of that’s going to help you actually brew beer at home. For small batches, it’s fine. For larger batches, you’re also going to be entering the wild world of bottling. You’ll need: bottles, a bottle brush, bottle caps, a bottle filler, a bottle bucket, and a bottle capper. These also come in kits, and it’s very important to use them properly. If you don’t, you’ll end up with wasted beer.
Alternatively, you can keg your beer. And then you can set up a tap in your kitchen, because why wouldn’t you?
What Ingredients Do You Need To Make Beer?
What actually makes up beer? It’s pretty amazing, but beer is a simple recipe. That’s why it’s existed for thousands upon thousands of years. Beer consists of malt, hops, yeast, and water.
- Malt. Malt is derived from barley. Now, if you want to brew beer from scratch, you need to go through a mashing process with the malt. But if you’re just getting started, you can instead purchase a malt extract. Malt extracts come either as a powder or a liquid, and you can get different types of extract for different types of beer. Rye, wheat, amber, and pale are common.
- Hops. Hops are what is used to actually flavor the beer, and different types of hops have a very dramatic impact on the taste of the beer that you produce. Experimenting with different hops is what gives your beer a signature style, and it’s something you’re going to need to experiment with over time. Oh no, more beer.
- Yeast. Brewer’s yeast and bacteria is what is used for the fermentation process, which is what turns the sugars in the malt into alcohol. It also creates carbon dioxide. Different yeasts can provide a different taste profile once your beer is done brewing.
- Water. Don’t forget that the water you use can alter the taste of your brew. Ideally, you should be using filtered water; if your area has hard water or a lot of minerals in the water, it will impact the final taste of your brew.
Get all these ingredients together along with your kit, and you’re ready to start brewing.
Avoiding the Most Common Mistakes
Here’s how it goes: There’s a reason why it can be a challenge to simply Google “how to make beer at home” and get a plain answer. It’s because, like food, there are a lot of recipes you can follow. You’re going to boil water and steep your ingredients in it, as well as add your malt extract. The resulting water will be poured into your vessel, along with the yeast, and it’ll be stirred. You then pop on your airlock and wait. That’s it.
So how do people brew beer that sucks?
- Not sanitizing and cleaning throughout the process. Your beer is going to ferment for weeks. That’s a lot of time in which bacteria can grow. If you don’t sanitize and clean throughout the process, you could introduce some random elements that aren’t going to be delicious in the end.
- Failing to filter their water. Your water does matter; it isn’t just water and it isn’t just going to boil off. Use well-filtered water unless you’re going for a mineral-filled mix.
- Forgetting about temperature control. Your brew should be held at a constant temperature. So, don’t just pitch it into the garage and hope for the best.
- Brewing too much, too fast. Start off with smaller batches because they’re easier to control and easier to learn from. As you start getting into bigger batches, you’re really going to need to fine-tune your process.
Learn more about how to brew beer at home through this video from The Kaizen Man:
So it turns out brewing beer is pretty easy, and brewing beer that sucks is really a matter of making some common mistakes. Don’t make those mistakes. Enjoy your beer.
Did these tips help encourage your second career as a craft brewer? Do you have any home brewing tricks up your sleeve that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section below.