Brewing beer at home is a wonderful way to enjoy the best beer without spending a fortune. Since you are the brew-master you determine the style and quality of the beer.
You are going to need some equipment. Most areas have a store that sells beer making equipment. If you don’t happen to have one nearby then there are lots on the Internet. Just do a search and you are certain to find one or more that you like. We will go through the equipment as we go through the brewing process.
An very important point to remember is that anything and everything must be perfectly clean and sterilized before it comes in contact with your beer. Most home brewing starter kits come with a cleanser that will do the job. Follow the directions and use it on everything.
A boiling pot or kettle that can hold at least five gallons is a must. Look in your kitchen for a stainless steel soup pot or similar. If it holds five gallons or more you are in business. If not, then you can buy one almost anywhere. Most beer supply stores also stock them.
You also need something to boil. When you feel adventurous it is good to make your beer more from scratch since it gives you more control. Your first time out just use a kit. A kit is just a can of malt and hops. Most kits are pretty good and really convenient. The instructions are pretty much just bring water to a boil and add the contents of the can.
After bringing it all to a boil for a few minutes just cool it quickly before pouring it all into your fermenting bucket and sealing it with an airlock. There are coolers you can buy that make it really quick and easy. If you don’t have one you can put the brewing pot in an ice-water bath. Be prepared to keep adding ice. Either way keep cooling until the pot is almost cool to the touch.
Waiting for your pot to cool is a good time to activate your yeast. Yeast packets are the most common since they ship well. Just add the contents to six ounces or more of lukewarm water in a cup. Remember everything should be sterilized
With lots of splashing or stirring to put air back into the wort, add the wort to your fermenting bucket or glass carboy and top off to the five gallon mark. When the temperature of the wort is below 75 degrees add the yeast. Adding the yeast is called “pitching”.
Either type of container does fine as a fermenter. A fermenting bucket is really just a food grade plastic bucket with a lid that has what is referred to as a “grommet hole” where you can put an airlock. A glass carboy is a glass water cooler jug. An airlock is a device that fits in the “grommet hole” of a fermenter bucket or the hole in the rubber stopper of the glass carboy and lets built up pressure out without letting outside air in. Outside air would contaminate the beer and give it some really weird, nasty flavors.
The fermenter is where your “wort” will ferment and become beer. Each style of beer prefers to ferment in its own temperature range, but most are somewhat forgiving. It will sit there for several days up to couple weeks. You will know its done when the airlock ceases to vent and stops making noise. After it is done fermenting you now have what is referred to as “green beer”.
You are ready to bottle your beer. Get ready by putting 3/4 cup of racking cane (dextrose) and 16 ounces of water into a saucepan and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes.
Dump the contents into your bottling bucket and siphon your beer into the bottling bucket. A bottling bucket is just another bucket like the first except it has a spigot on the bottom to make bottling easy. You will need almost sixty twelve ounce bottles with non-twist-off caps. Most starter kits come with a basic capper that does well and many people use it for years.
Stash your beer in a cool dark place that stays about 65-70 degrees for at least two weeks and then enjoy!