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Homebrewing is a fascinating and rewarding hobby that, for some beer aficionados, can become an entire lifestyle and life-long passion. Display your creativity and love for beer by making your own original handcrafted brew at home - it's easier than you might think! With complete beer-brewing kits and other helpful brewing accessories, even those who are new to brewing can become brew masters in no time. Here at Zamnesia, you will find everything you need for successful brewing at home.

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Homebrewing Information

How To Brew Beer At Home

Brew Beer at home

Homebrewing is a fascinating and rewarding hobby for beer aficionados. However, the process of brewing beer can seem long, tedious, and overly complicated.

In this article, we take an in-depth look at the process of beer brewing and show you how to easily brew delicious, quality beer at home.

For more articles like this, remember to regularly check out our blog. To start brewing your own beer, check the Brewbarrel, a comprehensive kit including all you need to brew fantastic beer in your own home.

HOW DOES BEER BREWING WORK

Beer is basically made from 4 ingredients:

- Barley (or other grains like wheat or rye): Barley is a cereal grain that looks very similar to wheat. The seeds from this grain are harvested, steeped, and germinated to create malt. The malt is then dried by gradually heating it. Most breweries skip this step and use malt they have sourced to make their beer.

Barley for beer

- Hops: The hop plant is actually a member of the hemp, or cannabaceae, family. The flowers contain a variety of acids and oils and are added to the brewing process in order to add bitterness and aroma to beer. Hops is also a natural preservative and helps to prevent beer from spoiling. There are many different varieties of hops, each of which can give beer slightly distinct flavors and aromas.

Hops for beer

- Yeast: Yeast is a single-celled microorganism. It is responsible for producing the alcohol and CO2 in beer and also gives it a distinct flavor. There are two main types of yeast used to make beer; ale yeast and lager yeast. The former tends to ferment at higher temperatures and typically rises to the surface of the beer during fermentation, while the latter ferments lower temperatures and ferments at the bottom of the beer.

Yeast for beer

- Water: The quality and type of water used in the brewing process has a huge impact on the overall quality and flavour of the final product. Homebrewers usually use distilled water or treat water using a variety of techniques. Large breweries will often have their own filtration systems, while others claim to use spring water from various natural springs.

Water for beer

The process of beer brewing involves 6 essential steps: malting, mashing, sparging, boiling, fermenting, and bottling/carbonation. Below we explore each of these steps in more detail:

1. Malting

Malting is the process used to create malt from barley or other grains. The main goal of malting is to isolate the enzymes needed for brewing.

The grains are first immersed in water to begin the germination process. Barley is usually steeped in water for roughly 2 hours before the grains are removed and then dried for roughly 8 hours. This process is repeated roughly 2 or 3 times until small roots (called chits) start to form in roughly 95% of the grains.

At this point, the grains are allowed to germinate further by storing them in a cool, slightly moist, and well-ventilated area until the small leaf (or acrospire) growing from the grain measures roughly the same size as the grain itself.

During this time the seeds are regularly turned in order to avoid the formation of bacteria and/or mould due to the heat generated by the germination process.

The malt is then dried at a steady temperature of roughly 31-50 degrees Celsius. Drying at higher temperatures will destroy the enzymes in the seed needed for mashing (the next step in the brewing process).

Finally, the dried, malted grains are separated from the rootlets growing out of them and crushed to create a pale malt. The grains can also be toasted at varying temperatures to create specialty malts.

Different kinds of malt

2. Mashing

The process of mashing involves steeping the malted barley grains in hot water for roughly 1 hour.

This activates certain enzymes in the grains and causes them to break down and release their natural sugars. These sugars are later consumed by the yeast in the fermentation process to create alcohol and CO2.

This also adds sweetness and other distinct flavours and aromas to the beer from the malt.

3. Sparging

Sparging involves rinsing the steeped grains in hot water to extract any remaining sugars. They are then separated from the hot liquid left over from the mashing process, which is called “wort.”

At this point, the malted barley grains are removed and discarded.

Sparging beer

4. Boiling

Next, the wort is boiled for roughly 1 hour in a new, clean vessel in order to kill off any remaining microorganisms in the liquid.

Hops are also added to the wort during the boiling process to add flavour. The time at which the hops is added to the wort affects the final taste of the beer. Brewers often experiment with adding hops at different stages in the boiling process to create different flavours in their beer.

Once the boil is completed, the wort is rapidly cooled to roughly 21-27 degrees Celsius and the yeast is added (or pitched). If the yeast is added at higher temperatures, it will die.

At this point, brewers need to avoid contaminating the wort. Because it is no longer at intense temperatures, it is susceptible to contamination from other microorganisms and bacteria.

Boiling beer

5. Fermenting

This is largely a waiting period. The wort is added to fermentation tanks and is left to sit anywhere from 1-2 weeks. During this time, the yeast consumes the sugars extracted from the malted barley grains to create alcohol and CO2. The alcohol is released into the air while the alcohol is left in the beer.

Fermenting beer

6. Bottling and carbonation

Once the beer has been fermented, it needs to be carbonated and bottled before it is ready to drink.

Most home brewers carbonate their beers by adding sugar a small amount of sugar to the bottles, causing the residual yeast left in the beer to consume the sugar and carbonated the beer. This is known as bottle conditioning.

Larger breweries will usually directly inject carbon dioxide into the beer.

Bottling beer

WHAT IS THE EASIEST WAY TO BREW BEER?

The brewing process we just described is quite long and complex. However, there are simpler ways to brew beer at home.

One of the simplest ways to brew beer is to use a malt extract. Malt extracts are essentially concentrated forms of wort that are available in liquid or dry forms.

Malt extract is produced by following the first 4 steps outlined above to create wort. The liquid is then concentrated using heat or a vacuum to evaporate water and create a concentrated version of wort which is called malt extract.

Using these extracts allows home brewers to bypass the more complex steps of the brewing process and skip straight to the fermentation stage. However, working with malt extracts limits brewers’ opportunities when it comes to creating unique flavours and aromas in their beer as they are only in control of the final stages of the brewing process.

HOW CAN YOU BREW BEER AT HOME WITH A MALT EXTRACT?

Brewing beer at home with malt extract is extremely simple.

First, you’ll need to decide on what kind of malt extract you plan to work with. Extracts are available in many varieties, including lagers, amber ales, pale ales, IPAs, stouts, porters, and many more.

Beer malt extracts

You’ll also need to decide whether to work with a dry or liquid extracts. There is a long-standing debate among home brewers regarding which is better, and making the choice is completely up to you. However, any quality extract from a reputable manufacturer should produce solid results.

Once you’ve decided on which extract to work with, you’ll be able to easily create quality brews in your home.

Always make sure to clean all your brewing equipment. The most common reason for failed brews is contamination, so make sure to pay extra attention to the sanitation of all your equipment.

When working with a new kit, simply rinse all equipment with hot water. When using old kits or other utensil, use a safe, heavy-duty cleaner and rinse thoroughly.

In order to brew your beer, simply add your extract to a fermentation vessel and add water according to the instructions that came with your extract. Always make sure to use drinking water with no chlorine odour and heat it to roughly 21-27 degrees Celsius.

Quickly add yeast evenly to the surface of the liquid and cover your vessel. Let the mix ferment for roughly 6 days, making sure the temperature of the brew remains steady.

On day 6 you’ll need to begin measuring the specific gravity of your brew on a daily basis. Once your gravity is stable for 2 consecutive, your brew will be ready to bottle. For exact information on how to measure the specific gravity of your homebrew, click here.

To carbonate your brew, either add a pre-measured amount of sugar to each bottle or use carbonation tablets. Then store your bottles at or above 18 degrees Celsius for roughly 2 weeks to allow for secondary fermentation.

At this point, you’ll be able to cool your beers and enjoy them.

How To Brew Beer With The Brewbarrel

If you’re looking for an even simpler method for brewing beer, be sure to check out the BrewBarrel available through the Zamnesia Head Shop.

Brewbarrel

This kit comes complete with all the equipment and ingredients necessary to create home-brewed beer at home. The kit includes an empty beer keg, malt extract, yeast, hops extract, a pressure control valve, come beer coasters, and a simple manual.

Below are the basic steps to create beer using the BrewBarrel. To order yours, click here and get ready to start brewing incredible beer in your own home today.

  1. Unpack your BrewBarrel kit.
  2. Remove the lid from your keg and add in your malt extract. Next, fill up malt bottle with cold water to the first marker, then with boiling water to the marker at the top, and add to the keg.
  3. Reseal the keg and shake it for roughly 30 seconds.
  4. Add in 5 bottles of cold water.
  5. Add your hops extract and yeast, and then close your keg with the pressure control valve.
  6. Rest your BrewBarrel for 24 hours at room temperature.
  7. Turn your keg upside-down for ten seconds, then return it to its original position and rest the keg for at least 5 days at room temperature to allow for fermentation.
  8. Finally, place your barrel in the fridge for 2 full days. Then, sit back and enjoy a glass of your very own home-brewed beer.

How To Brew Beer With A Beer Kit

How To Brew Beer With A Brew Kit

If you want to brew your own beer, beer kits are an easy way to go about it. These prepared brewing kits include everything that you need to make your first batch of beer. Just add water, mix in your yeast, and let your beer ferment. In just a few weeks, you'll have your own homemade craft beer.
Although there are many types of beer kits available, the preparation process is essentially the same for most of them. What’s different is normally just the amount of sugar or water required for the various brews. Here is our guide on how to brew beer with a beer kit.

BEFORE YOU START

To get started with brewing, you will need some essential equipment. You should be able to get these things at the same place where you get the beer kit.

WHAT YOU NEED

What You Will Need

For bottling your beer, re-sealable bottles that come with a swing-top and a rubber washer are recommended. You can also get bottles that you seal with crown caps. If you use those, you will need a capper and the matching caps.

It is important that you clean all your containers, bottles, and materials before you start. It’s recommended that you use a commercial sanitiser for this.

PROCEDURE

The Homebrewing Procedure

Open the beer kit. Remove the plastic lid, the yeast, and if you want, the label of the can. With a can opener, open the tin and carefully heat it in a water bath for about 10 minutes to make the malt extract more liquid. Instead of using a regular pot filled with water to heat the can, a “bain-marie” heated pot is the best way to go about this.

Now, pour the heated contents of the tin into your clean fermenting bucket/keg. Rinse the empty tin with 1l of medium-hot tap water and add the water to the bucket.

Depending on the beer recipe included in the kit, mix the recommended amount of sugar for your beer into 2l of hot tap water and add to the bucket. Stir and mix until the sugar is dissolved. (Don’t make the water too hot since this will prolong the cooling time). Now, add the recommended amount of water according to your beer kit recipe and allow the mix to cool down to about 25°C.

Take about half a glass (150ml) of room temperature water (approx. 25°C) and dissolve the yeast in it. Have the yeast mix sit for about 15 minutes and then stir into the cooled mixture in your bucket or keg.

While you can brew beer with any standard beer kit, you can further enhance the flavour and taste when you add beer enhancers, malt extracts, or glucose.

A hydrometer can measure the ratio of your beer’s density compared to the density of water. Each beer recipe will have the ideal starting density stated on the can as original gravity. Use the hydrometer to check the correct start density of your mix.

FERMENTATION

Fermentation

Everything looking good so far? Close the fermentation bucket and fit the airlock. Fill water into the airlock until it is about half full and use the plug to close it. Store the bucket in a warm place (18-23°C) and allow the mix to ferment. Fermentation will usually take about 10 days, although factors like ambient temperature can influence this. The lower the ambient temperature, the longer the fermentation process. You will know that the fermentation has completed when bubbles have stopped rising or when the water level in the airlock stays the same.

LAGERING/CLARIFICATION

Lagering And Clarification

Before your beer has finished fermentation, you should transfer it to a clean container with an airlock. You can do this by using the tap of your fermentation bucket. This process of transferring your beer separates it from the yeast at the bottom. After you transfer your beer, store it for another 1 or 2 weeks at room temperature. This will be the second fermentation, also called clarification or lagering. After about 2 weeks of lagering your beer, take the hydrometer to check on your brew’s density again. If you only have one bucket, you can skip the clarification; however, it is recommended for best results.

Video: How To Brew Beer With A Brewferm Beer Kit

OPTIONAL: ENHANCE YOUR BEER’S TASTE WITH DRY HOPPING

Dry hopping means that you give additional hops to your beer to add aroma and flavour. This can be done during the primary fermentation process, but also in the secondary when you add hop flavour directly to your bucket. Traditionally, this is done for pale ales and IPAs, but you can dry hop any type of beer. Obviously, whether you want to dry hop will depend on your personal taste. Many brewers think it is worth the extra step.

BOTTLING

Bottling

Only when your beer’s fermentation process has fully completed can you bottle your beer. To know whether it has really ended, you will use the hydrometer to measure your beer’s final density or current specific gravity. The ideal final density can vary depending on the beer type, so check the instructions on your kit.

When your beer has reached the right density, transfer it to another clean container first. To do this, remove the airlock and then carefully pour your beer using the tap without stirring the sediment.

Depending on the instructions for your beer kit, you will add a second quantity of sugar to the beer. For this, you dissolve the sugar in a small amount of boiling water. Know that the amount of sugar added in this step can vary depending on whether you fill your beer into bottles or a keg. If you use a keg, you will require less. (See your beer kit instructions for recommended amounts).

Take the mixing spoon and distribute the sugar evenly throughout the beer. Fill your beer into your bottles or the keg and close the bottles or seal the keg.

What follows is another 2 weeks of re-fermentation where you keep your beer in a warm place. To check whether the re-fermentation has finished, open a bottle after the time has elapsed and see if the beer has a sufficient amount of carbonic acid. If it doesn’t, allow the beer to sit a few more days. If the beer is well-carbonated, you can move it to its final storage place that should be cool, about 10°C. Allow 6-8 weeks for your beer to mature.

CHEERS! PROST! SALUD! YOU CAN NOW ENJOY YOUR HOME-BREWED BEER!

PRECAUTIONS FOR SAFE BREWING

Precautions For Safe Brewing

To minimise the risk of exploding bottles or kegs, follow these rules:

  1. Use pressure-resistant and reusable beer bottles without cracks and scratches.
  2. Do not just rely on the times stated in your beer kit instructions, and do not simply observe bubbles in the airlock. Always measure the original and final density of your beer using the hydrometer.
  3. Do not add too much sugar when bottling.
  4. For storage, a closed-off, separate room is best. 
  5. Keep beer bottles or kegs away from direct sunlight.