There are so many reasons to DIY brew and only some of them relate to drinking beer. Get a better taste, create your own concoction and save around 10-20% on buying commercial beer.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
Step 2: Sterilize Your Equipment
Step 3: Add the Main Ingredients
Step 4: Add the Water and Extras
Step 5: Allow to Ferment
Step 6: Take Hydrometer Reading
Step 7: Carbonate and Bottle
Step 8: Cap the Bottles
Written by Frank Gardner
Save beer bottles after consuming the contents, or buy empty bottles from home-brew suppliers. These vary in price but tend to be around $13 for 24 glass bottles.
Home-brewing kits cost from $75. We used the Brewcraft starter kit, $90, as well as a bench capper, $40, bottle drainer, $25, and a bottle rinser, $20. The total was around $175, but it costs more to buy empty bottles.
The handiest tool is a bottle tree. It holds up to 90 bottles and combines a rinser with a series of draining pegs. It costs about $40, but it saves a lot of time.
To brew keg beer, brew in an 5-gallon keg. It also requires an old fridge or freezer, a gas regulator and bottle, a keg plus connections like a tap or beer gun.
Finings reduce sediment. Mix with a cup of hot water and add to the fermenter at the start or when the specific gravity (SG) reaches 1010 on the hydrometer.
Don't use sugar in the fermenter. German beer quality has been maintained for 500 years because of Reinheitsgebot, a law prohibiting breweries using sugar.
It's vital to sterilize all the equipment, including the fermenter and bottles, with a cleaning product such as sodium metabisulphite. Use a bottle brush to remove sediment from the bottles.
For DIY, pay attention to hygiene and temperature, says Darian Percy, of Storm Brewing. Home brewers put beer in the shed or garage and if it's too hot it produces esters. A little is good, but too much is what gives home-brew that wrong sort of flavor.
Pour 2-quarts of boiling water into the fermenter. Add 2 1/4-lb. of glucose or dextrose, mixing well with a long plastic spoon to stop clumping. Soften the malt by heating the tin in boiling water, then add to the fermenter and mix well.
Add water to the 6-gal. mark. Aim for a temperature of 65-85°F, but no higher. Stand finishing hops sachet in a sterilized cup of boiling water for 10 minutes, then tip into the brew and mix well. Sprinkle the yeast sachet over the surface and stir.
Seal the fermenter and half-fill the airlock with cool, boiled water. Keep the temperature in the low 70°Fs to allow the brew to ferment (usually two or three weeks). It is complete when the airlock stops bubbling and the brew begins to clear.
To avoid bottling too early and risking exploding bottles, take a hydrometer reading after the airlock has stopped bubbling. Repeat this again after two or three days. If the second reading is the same as the first, then the brew is ready to bottle.
Clean and sterilize 60 12oz. bottles. Add 3g of sugar or one carbonation drop to each bottle. Place a bottle valve in the bottom of the tap and fill each bottle to 2-in. from the top.
Seal the tops on the bottles using a hand or bench capper. Write the bottling date on the seals. Store bottles in a dark spot and wait at least two weeks before drinking. (Editors' note: Home-brew tastes even better if left for six months before opening.)
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