Home Brewing: How to Brew Beer at Home
July 25, 2014 by
What is a home brewing? How does home brewing work? What is fermentation?
What's an air-lock? When will my home brew be ready to
The home brewing process is fairly basic. In fact,
there are just a few steps involved in turning amber waves
of grain into a tasty alcoholic beverage! But don't
let a lack of current knowledge keep you from brewing your
own beer. Learn how to home brew today! The general method for
home brewing involves
boiling, fermentation, and conditioning. Of course,
the first thing you'll learn is bacteria is a ruthless enemy
to the home brewer.
Sanitizing Your Home Brewing Equipment
Sanitation is one of the most critical elements in the
home brewing process. Everything must be cleaned
thoroughly before being sanitized. Use a sanitizing
agent such as Iodophor. Don't fall into the trap of
thinking the powder cleanser (such as One Step) is a
sanitizer. It's not! If you want to learn how
to brew, you need to learn how to produce and maintain a
bacteria-free kitchen, or home brewing station.
Boiling Your Home Brew Ingredients
You boil the malt extracts into what is call wort.
Doing so kills off bacteria and sterilizes the mixture and
prevents any infectious materials from entering the
fermentation vessel. While boiling the wort, you'll
also add bittering and flavoring hops to control the level of bitterness,
aroma, and flavor in the beer. Typically, the boil
lasts about 50 minutes to an hour for the home brewer and
must be intensive enough to accomplish the aforementioned
Pitching Yeast to Your Home Brew
Learning how to brew involves learning how to
pitch like a major leaguer. Well, not really.
But, there is some pitching involved. How so?
Well, you gotta give the extracted sugars something to eat!
This is where the micro-living organism known as yeast comes
in to play. And, it's very important you use the
correct type of yeast in your home brew. After you
have determined that, you "pitch", or pour in your yeast and
mix/shake vigorously for a few minutes to aerate the wort.
This is the only time you want oxygen in your brew.
Plenty of oxygen here is crucial in getting the yeast off to
a healthy start in fermenting your beer.
Fermentation of Home Brew Beer
Fermentation basically means yeasts (a form of bacteria)
feeds off your boiled (yet cooled and aerated) brew juice (wort)
and, as a result, converts the sugars in the wort to alcohol
and CO2. When this is accomplished, the brew can be
officially called beer. The three methods for
fermentation are warm, cool, and wild.
The yeasts used can be classified as top- or
bottom-fermenting. With top-fermentation, you'll see a
layer of foam at the top of your carboy during active
fermentation. They are brewed at higher temperatures
(roughly 60 to 75 degrees F), and can produce more alcohol
by volume, as well as a fruity style of beer. These
are your typical "ale" beers, and can be ready for
consumption in as little as three weeks after brewing began.
Of course, conditioning them for about 6 or 8 weeks produces
a finer drink.
Bottom-fermenting yeast produces dryer beers, and at
lower temperatures. These are your "lager" beers.
Regardless of the yeast used, after active fermentation, the
foam and clumping of particles for most brews fall to the
bottom of the carboy, where the yeast becomes inactive - not
Conditioning Your Home Brew Beer
After fermentation has been achieved, it's time to bottle
(or keg) your freshly-crafted home brew! During this
time, remaining yeasts gobble up any sugars left over or
added, and the beer ages and matures. This process
lasts from about 2 weeks to a few months, and can even go on
for several years.
There are five different ways to condition beer: 1.
krausening, 2. lagering, 3. bottle fermentation, 4.
secondary fermentation, and 5. cask conditioning.
1. Krausening - When the beer has finished
fermenting, a bit of fermenting wort is added to it.
This contains active yeasts which reactivate fermentation
and produces carbon dioxide. Since the container is
sealed (no air-lock), the CO2 is dissolved into the beer,
giving it that familiar foam head and bubbles. This is
usually done in a conditioning tank of size, and can also be
accomplished in the bottle.
2. Lagering - The term lager means to store.
Most beers are lager beers. They are aged at about 35
degrees for several weeks to several months. During
this time, any sulphurs coming from the bottom-fermentation
yeast are eliminated. The beer usually becomes clearer
and has a clean taste.
3. Secondary Fermentation - This is the process of
moving fermented beer to another container for additional
fermentation. Doing so gets the beer away from
the primary fermenter's yeast and trub, which has settled to
the bottom of the tank. A secondary fermentation is
typically performed for more complex beers, including
Belgian ales, and ensures a complete fermentation of the
available sugars. It also produces a clearer beer.
4. Bottle Fermentation - This is how most newbies
do it. A half-cup of corn sugar is added to the wort
just prior to bottling. This sugar is eaten by the
remaining yeasts while in the bottle, producing the CO2
needed for beer. If one were to filter their beer
prior to bottling, virtually all the available yeast needed
for bottle conditioning will be missing. Thus, no
bubbles would be produced. Therefore, it is not
possible to filter beer that is going to be bottle
conditioned. If a perfectly clear brew is your goal,
the best method is to utilize a kegging system, wherein CO2
is mechanically introduced. With this setup, you can
filter all you want before kegging.
5. Cask Conditioning - This is probably the most
complex form of conditioning as the beer is stored in a cask
without the use of CO2 pressurization.
Home Brewing and How to Homebrew
As you can see, there really isn't much to home brewing or learning
how to brew beer at home. It's about as simple as
growing and maintaining your own garden of vegetables.
Of course, if you really want to brew great beer, that
opportunity exists. Just keep striving to