brew_day

Basic Brewing #2 will break down the six basic steps that are listed below for actually brewing the beer.

1. Clean and Sanitize Equipment
2. Steeping Specialty Grains
3. Adding the Malt Extract
4. Adding the hops
5. Getting yeast ready
6. Cooling the Wort

Keep in mind that brewing the beer will take at about 2.5 hours to complete. Once you have picked out the beer style and bought the ingredients  for the malt extract recipe you will be ready for brew day. Also note that all hops and yeast should be kept in the refrigerator until used.

Clean and Sanitize Equipment (15 minutes)

This is one of the most important steps in homebrewing, keeping your equipment clean and sanitized is an absolute necessity. To do so fill your fermenting bucket with water and the recommended amount of sanitizing solution, I use Beer-Brite. Then place anything that touches the cooled wort into the water. This should include but is not limited to the stirring spoon, funnel, strainers, hop bag, airlock(with rubber stopper), siphon, plastic hoses, and even the lid to the fermenter. Let all of these items sit in the water until about 15 minutes before use.

sanitizing equipment inside the fermenting bucket

sanitizing equipment inside the fermenting bucket

Steeping the Specialty Grains (30 minutes)

This step is not 100% necessary in extract brewing, but really helps in adding uniqueness and additional flavor to the overall beer. Essentially what you are doing in this step is soaking the grains in about 155 degree water for about 30 minutes to extract the necessary sugars from the grains.

Start off by buying the recommended grains in the recipe from your local brew shop or online. Have the grains milled; this can usually be done onsite at the brew shop or using a rolling pin at home. Pour two gallons of water into your brew pot and bring the temperature to exactly 155 degrees.  Once you get tired of using store bought spring water, check out our article on building a water filter for brewing, it gets the job done at just under $40.

adding the first two gallons of water

adding the first two gallons of water

Put the grains into the mesh bag and hang them into the water, just like if you were making tea. Make sure you keep the water constant between 158 and 152 degrees, let the grains soak for 30 minutes. While doing this, take your malt extract package and soak it in warm water (this helps when pouring it in the next step). After 30 minutes of steeping remove the grains. Now move on to adding the malt extract.

malted grains inside steep bags

malted grains inside steep bags

Adding the Malt Extract (5 minutes)

At this point your malt extract package has soaked in warm water for a bit and your grains have been steeped. Next, add two more gallons of water along with the malt extract and bring it all to a boil stirring so that the extract does not burn on the bottom of the pot. Stir until extract is essentially dissolved. Once you have a light rolling boiling, make sure your burner is not set too high, and move on to adding the hops. Keep in mind the liquid will foam up at the top of the pot. Occasionally this foam may boil over this is called a “hot break,” when it does cut the heat of completely and let it settle; repeat as necessary.

added addtional water along with malt extract

added addtional water along with malt extract

Adding the Hops (60 minutes)

Once you have added the malt extract and have the boil going; it is time to add the hops. I prefer using a hop bag, this can be purchased at you local home brew store or online. Hops are usually added two to three times during the boil. First, you will add the bittering hops, check the exact recipe for type and amount, and let them cook for 45 minutes. At the 45 minute mark you will add the second round of hops, called the aroma hops, and they will cook for 15 minutes. Note that other flavor additions may be added at his time including coriander, orange zest, cloves, and other spices depending on the recipe.  After waiting the final 60 minutes, cut off the burner and get ready to cool the liquid (now officially called “wort”).

added hops, just waiting as the boil continues

added hops, just waiting as the boil continues

Getting the yeast ready (5 minutes)

Quickly get the yeast rehydrated so that it will be ready when the wort is cooled down low enough. Add one cup of warm (95 to 105 degree) boiled water into a sanitized bowl/cup and add in the yeast, cover with plastic wrap and wait 15 minutes. In the meantime go to the next step and began cooling the wort. After 15 minutes have passed gently stir the yeast/water liquid and let it sit for another 15 minutes. After about 30 total minutes the yeast should be ready to put into the wort or in brewing terms “pitchable.”

Cooling the Wort (30 minutes)

The wort must be cooled to yeast pitching temperature (65 to 80 degrees) after the boil as quickly as possible. You can do this in a few different ways, I have a copper wort chiller pictured below that I use now, check out the advance section of the site for more details on it.  Another more basic way to do this is by placing the pot into a sink or bathtub and immerse it in ice water with added salt if possible. I used the sink, it seemed to be a bit more efficient. While the wort is cooling down make sure to check back on your yeast rehydration to stir it when the time comes. Another tip that helps cool quicker in a sink would be to move the ice water around the pot and not let it just sit there.  Once the wort is cooled measure its OG with a hydrometer, this will be helpful in calculating the beers alcohol content  later.

cooling the beer using a wort chiller

cooling the beer using a wort chiller

Keep in mind that you do not want any contaminants or cooling water to get into the pot. Once the wort temperature has reached 80 degrees move on to fermenting the beer,  Basic Brewing #3 – Fermenting the Beer.