There are a number of ways to brew a batch of beer, all producing great
results. The following will describe just one way to produce a relatively
inexpensive and simple beer that has been proven to be a winner at a past BNB
party. The major equipment that is needed can be found as a kit at a homebrew store.
A beginners kit usually consists of:
a fermenter which is a five gallon carboy (or glass jug) or a plastic 5 gal. bucket
an airlock and a stopper
racking cane which is a hard plastic tube about 2' long for siphoning
beer out of the carboy.
a 3' plastic hose which connects to the racking cane.
a bottle filler which is a hard plastic tube 1' long with a simple valve at
the end. This is used to fill bottles and connects to the other end of the
If you can't afford a kit which usually runs about $60 then look around
and see what you have. A 5 gallon plastic spring water bottle (like the kind
found in offices) can be made to work. Some 5 or 6 gallon buckets sold at the
hardware store can work as well, just be sure the container is food-grade. The
local homebrew store owner should be more than happy to work with you.
Bottles are not usually included in the kit but if your reading this its likely that you got a
case in the recycle bin right now. Just keep saving until you have just over two
cases of empty non twist-off bottles. Sometimes bars will give you their bottles
1 - Buy The Ingredients
The ingredients for this batch should cost less than $20 at your local
homebrew store. What you need are the following ingredients to produce a 5
gallon batch of tasty beer.
7.5lbs light malt extract
2oz Northern Brewers Hops (note - there are many other types of hops
you can use)
one pack of dried ale yeast
priming tablets (this is just a pack of sugar pills)
Step 2 - Using The Ingredients
Find the biggest cooking pot you can. Somewhere around 16qts (4 gal) should
work fine. Fill the pot half full of hot water and set to boil.
Then fill the carboy or bucket with warm water and 2oz of household
bleach. Let it soak while the water boils. Also soak the racking cane,
plastic tube, airlock and stopper in a bleach solution as well. If your kit
comes with sanitizer then follow the instructions on the sanitizer.
When boiling add all 7.5lbs of malt extract making sure to stir until it
dissolves completely. Also add 1oz of Hops now. Note - the hops that
are added in the beginning are called the bittering hops. All the smell
and flavor is boiled off leaving a bitterness to counteract the sweetness
of the malt extract.
Let this boil for one hour total making sure not to let it boil over.
Fifteen minutes before the end of the hour, add 0.5oz of hops to the boil
(called wort and pronounced wert). When the wort has only five
minutes left add the last 0.5oz of hops. These two additions will give
the beer the hop flavoring and aroma.
Take the wort of the heat and do not cover. Set it in a sink of ice water
and make sure that nothing comes in contact with the beer that hasn't
Pour the bleach solution out of the carboy and save some of it in another
container in case something gets dirty or you need to sanitize something
else later. Rinse the carboy. Fill the carboy with two gallons of cool tap or spring
water. Using the funnel, add the wort to the carboy after it's cooled down a
bit leaving behind the hops and the protein that settled to the bottom. Top off the carboy to five
gallons of water. To make this easier, pour water in the carboy one gallon at a
time and mark the levels with marker ahead of time. Note - to prevent a
glass grenade, never add boiling wort to an empty glass carboy.
When the beer has reached room temp (about 70 deg F), add the whole
pack of yeast to the carboy. Put the stopper and airlock (fill the airlock
half full of water) on the carboy.
Within a day or two depending on the temperature, you should start to see
bubbles escaping from the airlock. Your fermenter will return again to a dormant
state when fermentation is complete. The entire fermentation process should last
a week or two. If your in doubt as to whether or not fermentation is complete,
the golden rule is to wait longer. Your patience will go bad much quicker than
the beer, so not to worry. After your sure that fermentation is finished, the
bottling process can be started.
Step 3 - Bottling/kegging
Bottling usually takes place two to three weeks after brewing. There
are some pros and cons to both kegging and bottling. Below I will outline just
the steps to bottling for it is the most common.
After fermentation has stopped completely, set aside some time to
sanitize your bottles. Mix up the bleach solution (about 0.5oz/gal) in another
plastic container and soak a little more than two cases of bottles. You can soak
them overnight and the labels should just come right off. Rinse the bottles and add the
prime tabs according to the directions. There will be directions on
the package describing how many to add for the desired carbonation.
(Another method instead of prime tabs requires mixing
0.5cup to 0.75cup of corn sugar to the whole batch in a separate
sanitized bucket. Then siphoning the beer from that bucket into the
bottles. The prime tabs are easier.)
When all the bottles have prime tabs in them, siphon the beer into the
bottles. The long straight end of the racking can goes into the carboy.
Attach the plastic tube to the other end of the racking cane. The bottle
filler should attach to the free end of the plastic tube. Blow into the
stopper (if another hole is available) to start the siphon. If the stopper
has only one hole, you must suck the bottle filler while depressing the
valve until the beer flows to the tip of the bottle filler. (This will give
you some idea of what the finished product will taste like!) Rinse the tip
of the bottler to avoid contamination of wild yeast from your mouth and
hands. The bottle filler will allow beer to flow when the valve is against
the bottom the bottle. When you see the beer level almost even with the
top of the bottle, take the bottle filler out. This creates the perfect head
space. Note - Make sure not to siphon out the settled yeast from the
bottom of the fermenter. If you have a glass carboy, you can see the
bottom of the racking cane in the beer. Stop bottling when the level in
the carboy gets to low and sediment starts flowing into the bottle.
Nobody likes chunks in there beer!
Cap all the bottles. Most caps come sanitized and do not require
sanitation. In fact some caps will absorb the oxygen in the bottle to
prevent oxidation. Boiling the caps to sanitize them destroys this
Leave the bottles out in room temperature for the next two weeks or
more. Dont be surprised if the beer is still flat after a week. Sometimes
it takes two weeks or more to carbonate depending on temperature and
other factors. The more you let this beer stand the better it will taste.
As fine wine will age, so will beer. This beer is at its prime 1½ to 6
months after brewing.
Think of a kick-ass name to call your new brew. Then, if your really
ambitious, design some labels to photocopy and stick to the
This is meant to be a rough (but hopefully comprehensive) guide
brewing a very simple extract batch. As experience is gained, additional steps can
be included to individualize your beer and create specific styles. Additions of
steeping grains, different hops at different times in the boil, and adjuncts like
sugar or maple syrup will change the beer. Every batch should be an experiment
of sorts to learn how each ingredient contributes to the final product. And
remember, its always good to brew with a ladle in one hand and a homebrew in