Homebrewing Guide for Beginners
Before we discuss the beginning steps to homebrewing, it is best to first understand what beer is and how it is made.
What is Beer Made Out Of? As explained by Roger Barth in The Chemistry of Beer: The Science in the Suds, beer is an alcoholic beverage produced by the saccharification of starch and fermentation of remaining sugars. Huh? Simply put, beer is made by the fermentation of grain. The most common starch used to brew beer is barley; malted barley to be exact. To begin brewing, the brewer takes milled barley and steeps it in hot water, called "mashing," to create a wort. After you have created your wort, you can add additions such as hops to give a variety of flavors to your beer. After you complete the boiling, you rapidly cool your wort and then add yeast to consume the sugar and release alcohol and CO2. After the yeast has finished eating all the sugars in the wort, you can bottle your beer and add additional sugar to create carbonation, which can take another few weeks. Then violà, you have beer. Homebrewing Guide - Getting Started Now, there is obviously more to brewing your own beer than that one paragraph could explain, and this knowledge comes with experience and research. However, if you are looking to get started in the world of homebrewing, you will need a few basics to get you started:
  1. A heat source (a stove will do)
  2. Boil pot
  3. Stirring spoon
  4. Measuring cup
  5. Can opener (if using malt extract like what is provided in the Mr. Beer kits)
  6. Fermenting vessel
  7. Bottles and Caps
As for ingredients needed, you can choose one of two directions: malt extract brewing, which is concentrated sugars extracted from malted barley and allows you to skip the "mashing" process (see our beer recipes), or grain brewing. You will also need yeast, water, and priming sugar. If you are grain brewing, you will also want hops as well. Step 1: Sanitize your equipment. This is the MOST important step in homebrewing. Why? Microorganisms that can live on your equipment have the potential to create off flavors in your finished beer. Check out this Mr. Beer video on how to properly sanitize before brewing. Step 2: Boil water. If you are using malt extract, you will remove the pot after the boil and add the malt. If you are using grains, you will add the grain to the boil and begin your mash on the heat source. You will also add your hops during the boil if you are using them. Then, you will chill your wort and add it to your fermentation vessel before pitching your yeast. Step 3: Lastly, you will use sugar to carbonate your beer. This can be done in bottles, or in a bottling bucket that siphons the beer into your bottles. The whole process of brewing can take anywhere from 4 weeks to several months depending on the type of beer you are brewing and how long you want your beer to condition before drinking.