How do you make beer?
Beer making, or brewing, is a simple process in theory but actually
takes a bit of effort and organization to pull off successfully.
There are many great websites that describe the brewing process,
but here are the basic steps for making an ale from malt extract.
(Making lagers takes longer and requires cold storage.)
1. Clean. Clean and sterilize all your gear.
2. Steep. Steep your specialty grains (if there are any)
in hot -- but not boiling hot -- water in your brew pot for about
30 minutes, and then remove the grains.
3. Add malt extract. Increase the heat and slowly add
your liquid and dry malt extracts, stirring all the while.
4. Boil. Bring the wort to a rolling boil. The wort
should boil like crazy for at least 90 minutes. Within the first
half hour, if not sooner, the "hot break" will occur, and the wort
will produce a lot of foam. Make sure the pot does not boil over at
this point. Turn down the heat to prevent boil-overs. When the
danger of boil-overs is past, you can crank up the heat again.
5. Add hops. You will add hops at different times during
the boil depending on the type of beer you're making. There are
many types of hops, which all have unique characteristics.
Bittering hops are added early in the boil; aroma (and flavor) hops
are added late. Aroma hops are sometimes called "finishing"
6. Cool. Remove the heat and cool the brew pot quickly in
an ice bath. This is an important process that produces the "cold
break." Cool the wort down to about 70 degrees.
7. Transfer. Transfer the wort to your fermenter and
pitch (add) your yeast. Agitate the wort thoroughly at this point.
This aerates the wort, which is desirable at this point.
8. Ferment. Seal the lid securely and insert your
airlock. Fermentation should start in 12 to 24 hours and last a few
9. Condition. After about a week in the primary
fermenter, carefully transfer the beer -- it's beer now, although
it's flat -- to a secondary fermenter. Do not transfer the ick at
the bottom to the secondary. Let the beer condition in the
secondary fermenter for about two weeks. Longer is okay.
10. Prime. After at least two weeks of conditioning,
transfer the beer to a bottling bucket. Add your priming sugar, but
be careful not to agitate the beer too much. This helps prevent
oxidation of the beer. The priming sugar must not be added directly
to the beer; dissolve it first in a cup of water. Make sure the
sugar water is thoroughly incorporated in the beer (but remember
not to over-agitate the beer).
11. Bottle. Bottle your beer and store it in a cool, dark
place -- but not in the fridge. The carbonation will occur
naturally in the bottle.
12. Be patient. Wait three weeks before trying a bottle.
You can experiment with aging your beer longer at cellar
temperatures and in your fridge.
To make beer from grain (the way the professionals do it), you
have to change a few steps. It's quite a bit more involved than
brewing from malt extract:
1. Mill the grain. To allow the starches in the grain to
be exposed, you must first mill your malted grain to crack the
2. Mash the grain. Mashing is reaction involving enzymes
and starches in the grain. At a certain temperature (about 145-155
degrees F) these enzymes become active and break the starches in
the grain down into sugar. Sugar is the food of yeast for
3. Stop conversion. Next you want to bring this mixture
up to 170 degrees F. This denatures the enzymes and stops
4. Sparge. In this step you strain our the grain from the
liquid (called wort) using a lauter tun. The spent grain is now
brewing waste, but the wort will be what turns into beer.
5. Boil. At this point, see Step 4 from the malt extract
directions. It's all the same from here on out.
The all-grain method will give you more control over your
finished product than using malt extract, but will take more time