The first Friday of August is International Beer Day. This year, it fell on the 7th. Normally, you’d see bars packed with drunk and happy patrons thanks to the all-day happy hours. Aside from binge drinking, you see people playing trivia nights or games such as beer pong. This year is different. Not everyone will be too excited to join the crowd of merrymakers. In fact, it would be better if people enjoy their beer at home. How about learning how to brew beer at home to celebrate the event? That definitely sounds like a plan.
Why Brew Beer At Home
Aside from having an endless supply of beer, there are other reasons why you should brew your own. Well… that’s actually enough of a reason why you should make your own beer but homebrewing does provide other benefits.
First, it gives you something to do. The pandemic has kept people from casually going out. Well, for the most part. If you’re one of the right-minded people who take coronavirus seriously, you’ve probably spent most of the past five months or so camped in your home. A hobby like brewing beer will definitely take some of the blues away.
Second, you save money. Instead of spending on expensive beer at your favorite bar, you only spend on the equipment and ingredients. They’re also definitely cheaper than what you regularly spend on store-bought commercial beer.
Third, you get to bring out your inner Walter White. Well, we’re not actually cooking nasty blue stuff here but the fact that you’re making something with your own hands should be rewarding enough. You can experiment with the ingredients to find the best concoction for your taste buds. That in itself is a win.
Fourth, homemade beer makes for a great gift. It feels good to give someone a gift that you made yourself. The recipient will appreciate the hard work and patience you put into your gift. Plus, it’s beer! Who doesn’t like beer?
Fifth, beer is healthy. It has vitamin B, folate, antioxidants, and other nutrients. A pint of beer a day helps prevent stroke, heart attack, and heart disease. A. Pint. A. Day. Too much consumption of beer is not that great for your physical health.
Finally, you can barter beer. Homesteaders earn their keep mainly by selling stuff they grow, raise, or make. Aside from selling, you can exchange your beer with other homesteaders for items you need. Plus, homebrewing is a skill that will prove important in an apocalyptic scenario. If you still have the equipment and ingredients, you can continue to produce beer and exchange it for essential items.
How to Brew Home-Made Beer
First, get everything you need. The basic pieces of equipment needed are a brewing kettle, a fermenter with airlock, and a siphon hose. You’ll need cleaners and sanitizers because we want everything spick and span. If you have and funnel, you’ll want to use this, too. Oh, you’ll need clean beer bottles, of course. For some, part of the allure of drinking beer is enjoying it straight from the bottle.
For your brew kettle, you can get one like the Stainless Steel Home Brew Kettle Stock Pot from Concord Cookware. It is made of 304 stainless steel with full weld construction for durability and easy cleaning.
The ST07NP Stainless Steel Fermenter from Chapman Brewing Equipment is also easy to clean, which is a huge plus. More importantly, it’s made of 201 stainless steel, which does not break, scratch, or affect the flavor of the beer. It comes with clamps, a stopper, and an airlock so you have everything you need.
Some fermenters already come with an airlock. If still need to get one, check out the one by Box Brew Kits. The set includes a clear 3-piece airlock and a food-grade silicone stopper. Other optional items include a carboy, auto-siphon, and a hydrometer.
The four basic ingredients you’ll need are hops, malt extract, yeast, and water. Hops are the cone-like flowers or seed cones of Humulus lupulus. It gives beer its classic bitter taste and distinct aroma. The malt extract makes it sweet. This fermented sugar comes from barley and is available in dry and liquid forms.
Yeast is, yes, a fungus. Beer yeast is different from the ones used to make bread. It is responsible for fermenting the beer. In other words, you can’t have beer without yeast. It comes in two kinds – ale and lager. The former is darker and more alcoholic while the latter is lighter. Yeast also comes in ready-to-use dry and liquid forms. Some homebrewers prefer dry yeast since it is easier to prepare. Beer is 90 percent water. You can use tap water if the taste is okay.
You can purchase the ingredients individually or you can get one of those beer ingredient kits. The Craft A Brew Beer Recipe Kit, for example, comes in different flavors. The one pictured here is the Bone Dry Irish Stout Recipe. The kit includes the dry malt extract, grains, yeast, hops, grain steeping bag, and even a sanitizer.
Clean and Sanitize
After making sure you have everything you’ll need, you can proceed with the fun part. The first step is to clean your equipment and your work area. If you don’t, you risk having bad-tasting or easy-to-spoil beer. Use warm soapy water to clean everything. Rinse thoroughly and make sure you get rid of all soap residues.
Next is to sanitize everything. You’ll need an alkali cleaner such as Five Star PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) Cleanser. The non-caustic cleaner is a popular alkali cleaner used in commercial breweries. The PBW Cleaner removes thick organic soils even in areas that normally would need a brush to be cleaned. All you have to do is soak your equipment overnight and rinse thoroughly the next day. It’s also great for cleaning and sanitizing your beer bottles. Another popular sanitizer used by beer brewers is the Star San Acid Sanitizer also from Five Star Chemicals.
Now for the really fun stuff. Most beer recipes are basically the same. They follow a simple procedure. What differs is the beer recipe. For this one, we’ll follow the recipe made by Northern Brewer.
Start by pouring 2.5 gallons of water into your 5-gallon brew kettle. Place the kettle over heat. Pack your grains in the grain bag and steep in the water for about twenty minutes or until it gets to 170 degrees. Take the grain bag out but let as much water drip back into your brew kettle. Avoid squeezing the grain bag. Doing so may result in a different flavor since you may be extracting tannins.
Bring the water to a boil then remove the kettle from the heat. Add the malt extract and let it dissolve. Place the kettle back and let the liquid boil once again. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add the hops.
Remove from the heat and let the resulting mixture, called wort, cool as fast as you can. Do this by placing the pot in an ice bath. You can also use a wort chiller like the Copperhead Copper Immersion Wort Chiller from Northern Brewer. Simply insert the device into the wort and run cold water through one end of the tube and out the other end onto the sink.
Once the wort has cooled down, pour it into the fermenter. Add water to get it back to 5 gallons then splash the wort around to aerate it. This step will help provide oxygen to the yeast.
Next, add the yeast. As mentioned, dry yeast is easier to use. You just need to sanitize the pack first before pouring the dry yeast into the wort. Don’t forget to sanitize the scissors you’ll need to open the pack.
Close the airlock to seal the fermenter. Place the whole thing in a dark cool place and wait until the fermentation process is done. This usually takes a couple of weeks.
Once the mixture has fermented, it’s time to bottle the results. First, clean up. Clean your bottles with a bottle brush. You also have to clean the bottle caps, bottle filler, bottling bucket, and the hose you’ll need to transfer your beer.
Mix the priming sugar with 16 ounces of water in a pot and place over heat to boil. Let it cool afterward. Once ready, add the mixture to the bottling bucket.
Use your siphon to transfer the beer from the fermenter into the bottling bucket. Next, attach the bottle filler to the hose before attaching it to the bucket’s spigot. Upon opening the spigot, place the bottle filler into a bottle with the end at the bottom. Fill the bottle to the top so you have the right amount of beer left once you remove the bottle filler. Finally, cover the bottle with a bottle cap. All you need to do now is store your bottles at room temperature and let the beer carbonate for two weeks or so.
Brew Beer At Home With A Starter Kit
If you have little trust in your skills and think that you’ll bomb the homebrewing process described above, you can go with something a bit easier. Try a starter kit first.
The Mr. Beer Complete Beer Making 2 Gallon Starter Kit is one of the most popular beer starter kits on Amazon. The Premium Gold Edition kit is made by an actual brewery in Australia – Cooper’s Brewery. It includes the Little Brown Keg, a 2-gallon fermenter that looks like, well, a little brown keg. The UV-resistant LBK comes with a wide opening on top, an airlock, and a spigot. You also get reusable beer bottles. The kit also has Mr. Beer Carbonation Drops and Golden Ale Premium Hopped Malt Extract that help lessen the brewing time to just half an hour or even less.
The Northern Brewer Craft Beer Making Starter Kit comes with a 1-gallon fermentation jug, airlock, auto-siphon, bottle capper, bottle filler, and caps. It also includes the ingredients and recipe to make a Caribou Slobber Brown Ale.
Craft A Brew Brown Ale Home Brewing Kit is another starter kit you should take a look at if you wish to brew beer at home. This kit includes a 1-gallon carboy, airlock, funnel, transfer tubing and thumb clamp, rubber stopper, racking cane, and thermometer. You also get a sanitizer, the Guide to Craft Brewing, and the Brown Ale recipe kit.
Don’t forget to pop open a bottle as you celebrate International Beer Day. A better way to celebrate the event, though, is to start learning how to brew beer at home. Do it now and you’ll get to enjoy your own concoction in no time. Check out Gentleman Pirate Club for more tips on homebrewing and other potential money-making DIY projects you can do at home.
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