How to Brew Your Own Beer

Have you ever considered learning how to brew your own beer? Homebrewing is relatively easy and inexpensive to get started, and making your own beer is usually cheaper, too. Includes helpful step-by-step instructions for homebrewing.


| October/November 2008



Learn how to brew your own beer. If you enjoy drinking flavorful beer, why not learn how to brew your own? It’s cheap, fun and delicious!

Learn how to brew your own beer. If you enjoy drinking flavorful beer, why not learn how to brew your own? It’s cheap, fun and delicious!


Photo by Istockphoto/Carlos Alvarez

Learn how to brew your own beer with this helpful guide. Homebrewing is a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to enjoy flavorful, affordable drinks.

How to Brew Your Own Beer

The revolution has happened. Chances are good that you live within a short drive of a brew pub, microbrewery, or — at the very least — a store from which you can purchase quality beer. In fact, the craft brew industry is so strong right now, you may wonder, “why even bother trying to brew my own beer?”

There are a few compelling reasons. First, you are in full control of the ingredients you put into your brew. This leads naturally to the second: Given that you have full control, you can brew beers to completely suit your own tastes, beers that commercial breweries would never risk brewing. Want to brew an American pale ale? Sure. Want to brew a chocolate cherry ancho pepper-flavored porter? Hey, I’m not here to judge. Third, while the initial cash outlay — though minimal — may intimidate some, it is far cheaper in the long run to brew your own beer than to buy microbrewed beer.

Beer Brew Tools

To get started brewing your own beer, you’ll need a few essential pieces of equipment. You can find all kinds of brewing supplies at local homebrew supply shops, or mail order online at sites such as Northern Brewer and William's Brewing.

The brew kettle. This can be a regular stainless steel, enameled iron or aluminum stockpot, preferably 12 quarts or larger. For advanced brewing, the kettle must be at least 6 gallons in size, but for the purposes of this article, 12 quarts will do. This is the most expensive piece of brewing equipment, but you can get it for about $40. Altogether the rest of the equipment may run you another $50 or $60.

A soup spoon. This can be plastic, wooden or steel; it doesn’t matter.

arkiegirl72638
10/23/2013 11:10:31 AM

A friend and I brewed our Fourth of July celebration beer. It was a dark stout and we used 10 lbs of Bing Cherries in the mix. People went crazy for it...now we brew beer at least twice a month, sharing expense and splitting the booty!! I wouldn't mind a keg set up and will have to look into that. Luckily, I have a great root cellar and store all my beer there. Maybe wine is the next logical step...I planted grape vines last year...hhhmmmm!


daynanator
5/6/2013 12:26:40 AM

 

Just like most things... beer is better when it is home made. I use a crawfish pot and burner for the boil kettle, an old ice chest (with a few modifications) for a mash run, and old icing buckets (I got for free from a grocery store) for fermentation. I keg everything I brew. 5 gallons of beer for $20... can't argue with that logic. 


patrick klungle
11/1/2012 12:21:42 PM

I brewed by own beer and find it a lot like cooking. Having some one in joy the bold fresh taste of my beer is like having somebody enjoy a cake I just made. He gives a sense of pride and accomplishment as someone might find in baking or cooking. The techniques and style vary from individual and at the end you truly have a handcrafted beer. I think it's an enjoyable experience and fun to try. Author of the book - Beer Ingredients II, The Ultimate Beer Ingredient Guide, What Does What.


tod_1
2/2/2009 9:52:25 AM

Another thing the article fails to mention is the use of a hydrometer throughout the process. This is almost as cheap and simple as a thermometer, about $10 for the hydrometer and a tube to use with it, and it will last a lifetime if you don't drop it. This reads the amount of dissolved solids (mainly sugar) in a beer. Commonly there are three scales: specific gravity, potential alcohol, and percentage of sugar, the last used mainly by winemakers. I take a reading every time I am handling the beer anyway, either from the siphon hose or a sanitized dipper like a measuring cup. This tells you where the beer started, whether or not it is done, and where it finished. These numbers can be compared to printed recipes and style charts, or your own records of previous brews. Subtracting the final reading from the initial reading will tell you the percentage of alcohol. Knowing when it is actually done will help prevent exploding bottle stories. Counting bubbles is not reliable. As time goes on, the amount of bubbling has less relation to what the yeast are doing. After about three weeks (for a normal strength brew), it is mostly just CO2 coming out of solution, which could go on for months. Also, you can drink the samples to taste the beer at different stages, so you learn what is normal and can possibly detect problems while there is still time to do something about it. Returning samples to the fermenter would risk contaminating the whole batch.


samantha_3
10/20/2008 8:31:10 AM

The one thing that this article fails to mention is that you don't have to waste time bottling beer if you invest in a kegging set up. My husband and I make at least 75% of the beer we drink. After years of washing bottles to bottle beer in throughout college we invested in a CO2 tank and some used 5 gallon soda kegs. You can ferment your beer and then you simply sanitize your kegs and put the beer in it and allow it to carbonate. Within about 1.5 hours you can drink your beer! We have a farm and could never find the time to provide all our own beer if it were not for kegging. If you own a large turkey fryer pot you can make up to 15 gallons of beer at a time so you won't have to brew so often. Kegging set ups are available at many online and local homebrew stores. If you want to make a lot of your own beer and are stressed for time, kegging is the only way to go. Oh and you can also make homemade sodas and sparkling juices by simply mixing the soda ingrediants and putting the mixture in the keg and carbonating so that you have soda/ root beer within an hour or hour and a half! For sparking juice you can just put it in the keg (so long as it has been pasturized) and carbonate it! This is a great way to get kids to drink their juice or drink soda with no preservatives or corn syrup since you choose what goes into it.


greg_2
10/9/2008 7:56:21 PM

Brewing is fine, but for a little less effort, using most of the same equipment, home made wines are my preference. The same stores that sell beer making supplies generally also carry wine making supplies. You can make virtually any variety you can find in the store, or make wines from any fruit, and some vegetables.






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