Or Second or Third
This page is dedicated to people who have seldom or never made homebrew and therefore we will attempt to progress by systematic steps.
First of all many beginners do not know the difference between an Ale and a Beer: most beers will ferment at a lower temperature anywhere from about 12c and 20c while an ale will ferment at higher temperatures such as 20c up to 25c. In such a manner that beer takes longer to ferment while an ale can be ready much more rapidly. Another factor will be the type of yeast: most but not all beer yeast will ferment from the bottom of the vessel while most but not all ales will ferment from the top of the vessel.
The purpose of this entire Website including this section is for amateur brewers. Therefore we will Keep It Simple.
Before we dig deeper and get a hundred comments I will point out that the type of flavouring will differ, mainly due to the type of hops and other additives used to give the end product flavour and scent.
Decisions and choices
You have to decide what type of kit to use for your first brew because this will be the first step and hopefully a succesful one. Select below either one of our suggestions.
- Beer or Ale in a can. This type of product is a malt where all flavouring is incorporated and you only need to add boiling water (some sugar) and cold water to bring the wort to the ideal temperature for fermentation. A package of yeast is normally found under the cover or at the bottom of the can and a set of instructions. Canned malt contains preservatives which alters the taste of the malt. Before extracting it, you should dip the can in hot water. Canned malt has been in use for many years but will soon be a secondary choice.
- BIAB stands for Beer In A Bag and also offers beer or ale. Beer in a bag is packaged at high temperature and Nitrogen gas which leaves no taste and no scent is used in the packaging area. Even experienced brewers like the fact that there are no preservatives. As for the canned malt you dip the bag in hot water to make the extraction much easier. The rest of the process is the same as for the cans. The end result and overal steps of BIAB is rated as the ideal for beginners choice.
- Full wort in a ? box! Commonly called Bag in a Box is the easiest and cost more. The box weights approximately 50 plus pounds and contains everything. You simply pour the content in a clean and sanitized fermenter (pail) or into a conical fermenter, check the temperature and pitch (sprinkle) the yeast on top and cover with the lid. It is quite heavy, awkward and if not very carefull chances are you may spill a little or even a lot. This boxed product is the easiest one of the three and it is in average double the price or more of a BIAB kit. May or may not contain preservatives.
You now have to visit your favourite brew store in your area. It is imperative to find out how their staff is willing to spend quality time and offer advice. Your friends will tell you which place has more inventory and good pricing than others; for the past 10 years I’ve been dealing with E&L Brew Store in my area and I strongly believe that a few dollars more or less will not entice me to brake up a strong and friendly relationship. Working with knowledgeable staff is a plus.
- The main reason Home Brewers will fail their batch is improper cleaning and sanitization. Use a 5 gallon pail with a lid, air lock if you have one. We strongly recommend to have a measuring strip on the pail as not to over or underfill. A stick on thermometer strip would be neat.
- syphon tube available at brew stores.
- hydrometer recommended
- xtra long spoon
- cleaning solution
- paper towels and or clean rags
- safety glasses (goggles)
- if using can a spatula to scrape can
- Steps 1 an 2 is Cleaning and Sanitizsing. Using the 5 gallon pail and wearing safety glasses, pour at least 6 inches of a cleaning solution found at the brew store or an alternative is to use 1/2 cup household bleach: many brewers use dishwasher detergent but it is very strong and concentrated. Wearing protective gloves, use a clean rag and clean the spoon, the air lock if using one and the lid.
- Rinse with cold water. Then using a sanitizer at the proper concentration you will soak every parts and or splash it with a rag same with the pail, splash solution on the walls and around the lid; then rinse with cold water. Hint… a low price and effective sanitizer is a quaternary swimming pool algeacide which also must be rinsed abundantly. REMEMBER that cleaning alone is not sufficient.
- Step 3 and on is preparing the Wort. If using method 1 or 2 (Can or BIAB) fill your kitchen sink with hot water and let BIAB or can soak for 15 minutes: meanwhile you will boil a gallon of water to full boil. Once the water is boiling it is time to carefully open the can or bag (carefull it normally overflows) and using spatula pour malt at the bottom of the pail, make sure you get all of it into the pail. If the can or BIAB asks for Sugar , pour it over the malt. Now pour the boiled water on top of the malt sugar mixture and using long spoon, gently mix thoroughly.
- Cary the pail to the area where the wort will ferment and place it on a sturdy surface where it will not be moved until fermentation is complete. Add water to reach the ideal temperature as recommended in your kit alternating with cold to warm or hot water and fill to suggested amount of liters or quarts.
- Whichever method, Can, BIAB or Box, it is now time to pitch (pitching is a brewers expression which means “sprinkle”) the yeast on top of the wort and cover with a loose lid or if using an air lock fill it to the line and fit it in the hole. That’s it.
- Keep the room temperature as required by your kit. If room temperature is too low then we strongly recommend the use of a beer belt but then you must make sure that your wort is not overheating or it would choke the yeast and good bye beer.
It will take 12 to 21 days for the yeast to turn sugar into alcohol. If you wait 21 days without any testing then you can safely keg or bottle the concoction. When Specific Gravity (sg) is reached it will be time to either bottle, keg or for demanding brewers go into secondary fermentation after around 9 to 12 days (not recommended for first time brewers). If unsure that the batch is ready, you can wait a few more days: in fact it will allow more sediments to sink to the bottom. Those sediments are not very appealing but strange as it may seems, they are full of proteins and good for you. Idiotically speaking nice crystal clear beer lacks the proteins and or nutrients but sure looks appealing.
Lets make a point clear: CLEAR is the keyword, including many of us we expect Craft beer to be as clear as all commercial beers. Well it is possible if you spend or waste time clearing with gelatin or some other methods; the best method is adding Irish most. Indeed you will throw away great nutrients and natural scents and flavours. Many new Home Brewers have given away or thrown out a great batch of Crafted beer. Great Home brew may have a cloudy look as some people also do, lol, so smell it, (the beer that is) taste it and discover the flavours and taste of Crafted beverages.
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