Brewing Beer: The Basics

Bottle your own beer by using four ingredients and following just four steps.

| October/November 2017

  • The beer renaissance in the United States has been driven in part by homebrewers -- and you, too, can brew beer at home.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/volffe
  • For your first time brewing beer at home, it's a good idea to follow a recipe.
    Photo by Terry Wild Stock
  • Combine malt extract with water to reconstitute the wort.
    Photo by Terry Wild Stock
  • After the boil begins, start adding hops at the intervals specified in your recipe.
    Photo by Terry Wild Stock
  • Sanitize your carboy or fermenter before adding the wort.
    Photo by Terry Wild Stock
  • You can siphon wort to measure specific gravity, in this case while making a barley wine-style beer.
    Photo by Terry Wild Stock
  • Pitch the yeast to your brew, and allow it to ferment according to your recipe.
    Photo by Terry Wild Stock
  • Beer aisles in the United States are overflowing with styles of beer from all different types of brewing traditions.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Dusk

There’s something about a cold brew that helps close out a hard day’s work. Beer in the United States has come a long way in the last 40 years. When I was a young man in the 1970s, I remember seeing generic beer on the shelf. At that point, it was just a commodity — a pale, fizzy beverage indistinguishable from others like it except for the labels.

These days, the beer aisle is overflowing with styles of beer from all different types of brewing traditions: British ales, German lagers, strong Belgian beers, and more. Brewers in the United States are giving their own twist to classic styles from around the world. American-style IPAs (all the rage right now) are descended from the English India pale ales, for example. This beer renaissance has been driven in part by homebrewers — and you, too, can brew beer at home that has the qualities you desire.

Assemble a Starter Kit

The most common batch size for homebrewers is 5 gallons, which makes just over 48 standard 12-ounce bottles. You can easily brew beer at this scale in your kitchen with a minimal amount of equipment. Homebrew shops sell kits that include everything you’ll need to get started, except for a large brew pot and empty beer bottles. The price of starter kits is generally between 70 dollars and 200 dollars, depending on what the kit includes. Starter kits that include kegging equipment are typically more expensive.

The main items in a brewing starter kit include a food-grade plastic bucket or glass carboy in which to ferment the beer; a second bucket to hold the beer before bottling; tubing to move the liquid from vessel to vessel; and a bottle capper.

For beginning brewers, a 5-gallon stainless steel pot will work well as a brew kettle. At a minimum, you’ll need a pot that will hold 3 gallons of boiling liquid with at least 1 gallon of extra space for foaming.

Just 4 Ingredients

Beer is comprised of four basic components: malt, hops, yeast, and water.

7/2/2019 10:50:08 AM

Jerry, There have been articles like this- and better- more than 5 years ago. I've been brewing for 17 years after learning online and my own website has been around for 14. Also, with the quality of malt extract in the past decade, there's NO difference in the finished beer. Although I brew all-grain (using the same system you do), a few years ago, I won a competition with a 100% extract beer. Long ago, I coined the phrase "It's very easy to make good beer. It's very hard to make great beer." That "technical jargon" that you think is useless is what separates good from great.

7/2/2019 4:16:14 AM

Iv'e been home brewing with whole grains now for about 5 years, I wish I would have had access to an article like this back when I started long before 5 years ago, I started with extracts and kits, let's just say my results were less than spectacular, I decided to try whole grain brewing and after reading a couple of books which by the way are usually filled with technical jargon the home brewer doesn't need to make good beer at home, I did about a months worth of research on the internet then decided to purchase my brew pot, I went the more expensive rout but not the most expensive, I bought a mash and boil electric brew pot that holds 7 gallons, I had most everything else needed from my other tries and my wine making days which I still do on occasion but not in the same capacity as when I was doing about 200 gallons a year, I didn't want to use someone else's recipe so after compiling a horde of different recipes and understanding what went into each I came up with my version of an IPA which we still brew today and is the favorite of the different beers we brew, about a year ago I got my two sons involved and they seem to have the same passion I have for brewing.


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September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pa

Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.


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