Basic Brewing #1 — Picking out Beer Style and Buying Ingredients


This is the first in a series of articles that will go into the very basics into brewing your own beer.  Basic Brewing #1 will go over the different types of beer, the different ways to brew beer, where to find a recipe and what equipment is necessary when brewing.

Types of Beer

Basically there are two types of beers, Ales and Lagers. The type of beer is based on the type of yeast used. Ales use what is called a top fermenting yeast. The top fermenting yeast is very active between 65-70 degrees. A lager beer uses a bottom fermenting yeast which is very active at 45-55 degrees. In an effort to keep things simple, I will go over how to brew a classic ale throughout the Basic Brewing articles. Given the complexity of brewing lager beers, I will share more information about them further down the road. If you want more information on the different styles of beer, check out our Recipes section.

freshly poured ale

freshly poured ale

Two ways to make beer

Extract Brewing
This method usually uses unhopped malt extract along with hops during the boil. Sometimes specialty grains may be steeped into the boil to increase body and flavor. This method is easiest and I recommend it for your first few beers. This method will be used for our brief example in this article.

All-grain brewing
This method requires you to mill grains and soak them in water for an extend period of time, drain off the water and use it during the boil. This method is a lot more complex and I do not recommend it for your first beer.  Check out building a cooler mash tun to find out more on building your own all grain brewing equipment.

bag of malted grains, used in all-grain brewing

bag of malted grains, used in all-grain brewing

Find a Recipe

There are plenty of places on the internet to look and find specific beer recipes, but most of them will not lay down all the details that I do here on the site. There are plenty of recipes, both extract and all-grain, here at check out our Homebrew Recipe Section. Once you find a recipe that suits your fancy, purchase all of the necessary ingredients at your local homebrew store or order them online from the various homebrew websites.


Here is a basic checklist (most of these items can be found in a basic homebrew kit) to help make sure you have all the necessary equipment for brewing your first beer.

Brew Day

  • Boiling pot – A boil pot that can hold at least 6 gallons. (this will help when upgrading to all-grain)
  • Outdoor Gas Burner – aka Turkey Fryer, these work great and come with a huge 6.5 gallon pot
  • Stirring Spoon – Large metal or food grade plastic spoon for stirring the beer
  • Thermometer – I recommend getting one or two standard long brewing thermometers (I personally broke three digital probe thermometers from BB&B)
  • Strainers –A colander and wire mesh strainer work great when placed inside each other
  • Steep bag – Mesh bag often used in extract brewing
  • Hop Bag – At least 1 if not 2, they are very helpful.
  • Fermenter – 6 gallon plastic bucket with lid or glass carboy
  • Airlock for fermenter – Either bubbler type or 3 piece type work fine
  • Siphon — Essentially clear plastic tubing with a racking cane.(auto-siphon’s work great)
  • Sanitizer – Watered down Bleach or Beer-Brite, I prefer the Beer-Brite
  • Hydrometer
  • Kitchen Timer

Bottle Day

  • Bottle filler – Homebrew bottle filler
  • Plastic tubing – About 4 to 6 feet of it will do, it should be able to attach to the spigots on the buckets
  • Siphon – Same one used during brew day
  • Bottle brush – Comes with most brew kits, (can use baby bottle brush found at Walmart)
  • Bottling bucket with spigot – A must have for simplicity, the extra 20 dollars is worth it
  • Drying rack for bottles – Completely optional, but helpful.

Note that bottle day equipment can vary depending on the bottles used.
Regular Beer Bottles

  • 50, 12 Ounce bottles are necessary to fill 5 gallons
  • Bottle caps – Must not be used!
  • Bottle capper – Homebrew bottle capper

Grolsch Style Flip Top Bottles

  • 40, 16 Ounce bottles are necessary to fill 5 gallons
brew closet -- pots, buckets, strainers...

brew closet — pots, buckets, strainers…

Once you have picked out a recipe and purchased all of the necessary brewing equipment you are ready to move on to actually brewing beer, Basic Brewing #2 – Brewing the Beer.


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  1. […] in mind that brewing the beer will take at about 2.5 hours to complete. Once you have purchased the necessary equipment and ingredients  for the malt extract recipe you will be ready for brew day. Also note that all hops and yeast […]

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