Brew Your Own Beer

Homebrewing is a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to enjoy flavorful, affordable drinks.



Bottle of Beer
If you enjoy drinking flavorful beer, why not make your own? It’s cheap, fun and delicious!
ISTOCKPHOTO/CARLOS ALVAREZ
Brown ale ingredients
These are the ingredients for the basic brown ale described in this article. Batches of homebrew can be made using only malted barley grain (known as all-grain brewing). However, this beer uses malt extract as the primary source of the fermentable sugars, and a small amount of barley to fine tune the color and flavor.
MEGAN PHELPS
Finished beer
The end goal — finished beer! This is homebrew that’s been bottled in a “growler” half-gallon jug from a brewery. You can also put your finished beer in regular-sized beer bottles, but doing so makes the bottling process a lot more work.
MEGAN PHELPS
Kitchen homebrewing
This is a typical kitchen homebrewing setup. Your kitchen stove is a good place to start brewing, because it requires minimal equipment. Many brewers use propane burners and brew outdoors, as pictured elsewhere in this article. In either case, the basic steps for making this beer are the same.
KELLAN BARTOSCH
Dried malt extract
This beer was made with the help of half a dozen people. Does it take this many people to make a batch of beer? No, but it sure is fun! Here, two of the brewing crew show off the dried malt extract.
MEGAN PHELPS
Extreme closeup of grain bag
A closer view of the brewpot and grain bag in action.
MEGAN PHELPS
Grain bag
Nathan (the author) begins brewing the brown ale by putting the grain bag into the brew pot.  
MEGAN PHELPS
Malt extract action
The malt extract is dumped into the brew pot.
MEGAN PHELPS
hops
Now it’s time to add some hops. Here Amy, a first-time brewer, gets a closer look at the hops as Nathan, the author of this article, adds them to the pot.
MEGAN PHELPS
Pellet hops
A closeup of the hops. You can buy pellet hops, like these, or you can use whole leaf hops. Ounce for ounce, you can get a bit more flavor out of pellet hops than whole leaf hops, but many brewers consider them more difficult to work with (they can be difficult to strain out of the wort).
MEGAN PHELPS
Pitching yeast
Adding — or pitching — the yeast. Fermentation is about to begin.
MEGAN PHELPS
Thermometer
Now the beer is being siphoned from the brew pot into the primary fermenter. The thermometer is to check the temperature to see if the beer is cool enough to add the yeast.
MEGAN PHELPS
Sanitizing
Tip # 1: Do sanitize all the equipment properly. If you accidentally contaminate it with bacteria you’re not going to poison yourself, but you will likely add “off flavors” that can make the beer taste less than palatable.
MEGAN PHELPS
Kettle boiling over.
Tip #2: Don’t leave the brew pot unattended, because it may boil over, like this. When this happens, blame the most inexperienced member of your brewing crew.
MEGAN PHELPS
Drinking beer
About five weeks later, the beer is ready! OK, time to consider some handy brewing tips and check out a few more photos of homebrewing equipment and homebrewers in action.
MEGAN PHELPS
Basement
Yep, we’re in a basement. The generally cool temperatures of a basement are a great place to store beer as it ferments.
MEGAN PHELPS
Airlock
More brewing equipment: This is what an airlock looks like. The airlock keeps out ambient air that contains bacteria while allowing CO2 to escape. When the beer is fermenting, the liquid inside will start to bubble as CO2 passes through.
MEGAN PHELPS
Hydrometer
Tip #3: Measure the specific gravity of the beer with a hydrometer (shown here) to find the alcohol content of the beer. It may not be the specific gravity you were aiming for with the recipe, but knowing how close you got is a good learning experience.
MEGAN PHELPS
Close up of siphoning.
Another important piece of equipment: the primary fermenter, otherwise known as a bucket.
MEGAN PHELPS
Spent grain
This is the spent grain from an all-grain batch of beer. All-grain brewing is cheaper than extract brewing, but it's easier to start with extract because it's simpler and requires less equipment. 
MEGAN PHELPS
Standing around brewing beer
Brewing in action! Many homebrewers are eager to show interested new brewers how to get started. Here, experienced homebrewers Joe and Nathan, show beginning brewers Max and Nate the basics.
MEGAN PHELPS
Brewing and drinking beer
The brewing team hard at work. From left to right: Joe, Nathan, Nate and Amy.
MEGAN PHELPS
Brewpot bubbling
It’s a beautiful day for homebrewing! Why not go start making a batch of beer right now?
MEGAN PHELPS











Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.