Making Beer at Home

What better way for beer aficionados to commemorate the international beer day than to try and make the foamy beverage at home? Yes, you heard it right. The prospect may sound intimidating, but home brewing is not rocket science. It’s easy and can be fun. 

The process is fairly straightforward and can be broken into three parts namely initial brewing, fermentation and bottling some weeks hence. But yes, be prepared to go through trial and error before coming up with the perfect blend that can be sipped with pleasure.  So let’s begin the beer-making journey.

Essential Equipment: 

For starters, purchase a brew-it-yourself kit that contains the essential equipment along with a handy instruction booklet. If you want to calculate the alcohol content of the crafted beer you will also need a hydrometer. 

Ingredients in Beer:

There are 4 main components required for the concoction. These include water, yeast for fermentation, grains (barley is the most common type of grain used but some beers are made from wheat, corn, oats or rice) and hops to impart flavour/aroma and inhibit bacteria. 

The why and How of International Beer Day

With the equipment and the main ingredients covered, let’s walk you through the extract brewing process which is an excellent starting choice for newbies as it is an easy and convenient method.

Sanitise the Equipment:

Sanitization is a critical aspect of brewing your beer at home. It is imperative to thoroughly clean and sterilize the entire equipment (kettle, buckets, tubing parts, siphon, bottles, bottle caps, stirring spoons, etc.) you plan to use. Any lapse on this front can lead to foul-tasting or ruined beer.

Bring Water to Boil & Steep:

Take about 2-3 gallons of water in the brew pot and place it on the stove. When heated to about 160 degrees F drop the bag of dry extract powder to steep the grains for 30 minutes or so.  Remove the grain bag without squeezing it. You will notice the colour of water has changed to a shade of brown. With steeping finished, bring the pot to a low boil and drop the hops into the mix. The hot phase is now complete and your “wort” (unfermented beer) is ready.

Cool Down the Wort:

The next step is to cool down the wort as fast as possible to the targeted temperature of around 78°F to reduce the odds of bacteria taking hold and the beverage becoming contaminated. This can be accomplished quite effectively with the help of an immersion chiller. Subsequently, transfer the cooled wort to a clean and sanitised fermentation vessel. 

Pitch the Yeast:

Now add some filtered water and ‘pitch’ the yeast into the wort.  Whether you use liquid or dry yeast, don’t forget to activate it a few hours earlier for the beer to ferment better.  Put the lid in place and shake the fermenter back and forth. This helps the yeast to consume the malt sugars in the wort and produce CO2 along with ethanol.

Seal Fermenter & Wait:

Stash the fermenter in a cool, dark place like a closet or basement that is out of the way after sealing it with an airlock and rubber stopper.  The liquid starts bubbling and frothing during the fermentation process and the beer will be ready for kegging or bottling in roughly two weeks.

Bottling:

Bottling is pretty easy. Use a siphon and bottling tip to fill the beer carefully in thoroughly clean bottles and then tightly cap each one with the capping tool. Let the bottles sit for a few weeks before popping them open. 

Now that you know the basic beer-making process, what say, ready to try your hand at home brewing? Start by creating a few pints of basic lager, refrigerate it, and enjoy the fruits of your labour with a bunch of friends this International beer day.

Cheers!

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