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If you enjoy beer and have thought that you would like to brew your own brew, then this is a good place to start. Beer making at home can be as easy as cooking dinner or as difficult as you would like to make it.
Here I will not give you the perfect recipe for your beer, but it will give you the basic steps in homebrewing beer as well as a better understanding of beer making terminology and the processes involved.
Basics Terms To Know
- Brewing – Brewing is making beer by cooking a source of starch, usually, a cereal grain, adding bitterness & additional flavoring, and then fermenting it with yeast. The cereal grains used can be something like a malted barley, sorghum root, agave, or even potato.
- Malting – Malting is the process of taking a seed, soaking it in water so that it starts to germinate, then stopping the germination process by quickly drying the seeds with heat.
- Mashing – Think about making mash potatoes, except in this case you take the malted barley, grind it up real fine and then slowly cook it in water.
- Wort – The wort is the colored liquid produced from the mashing process. This liquid is high in sugars and will be fermented to create the alcohol.
- Fermentation – Is the process of breaking down sugar into alcohol. Yeast is used in consuming sugars and produce carbon dioxide and the alcohol. It should be noted that the yeast is a “brewing yeast” specifically designed for brewing.
- Hops – Hops are flower seed cones and are used to flavor the beer a little but mainly to add bitterness. Other plants that have been used at one time or another include dandelions, marigolds, and heather to name just a few.
Types of Homebrew
There are three methods that can be used to make your own beer at home.
- Beer Kits – This is the easiest way to get started in home beer making. A beer kit will normally come with all the necessary ingredients to make a homebrew. The kits provide a step by step process that you follow and after a few weeks of aging you have your first homebrew.
- Extract Brewing – In this process the home brewer uses a concentrated malt extract or condensed wort. By using a malt extract the brewer avoids the mashing process. The malt extract is added to water to create the wort to be used for the fermentation process.
- All Grain Brewing – The All Grain method is just that, it starts at the very beginning of the process. It does have the greatest opportunities for the brewer though because it starts by selecting the initial grains to be malted.
The Beer Making Process
It must be noted that through all the steps, it is extremely important to keep all utensils, receptacles and working area sanitized. It is very important not to have your beer infected with bacteria.
- Select the barley to be malted.
- Immerse the barley in water to start the germination process.
- Once germination has started the barley is removed from the water and quickly dried using heat similar to roasting. You now have malted barley.
- Grind the Malted Barley into a fine mixture.
- The ground malt is now combined with water and kept at a temperature of 148-158 F. This starts the release of sugars from the starches.
- The liquid and malt is screened and the remaining liquid is your wort for the remaining process.
- Now it’s time to add a little bitterness to offset the sweet malt. The wort is combined with hops and cooked again to imbue the mixture with the flavor and bitterness of the hops. This cooking is actually a boil that sanitizes the entire mixture.
- After cooking for a while, the mixture is cooled and readied for the fermentation process.
- Brewer’s yeast is now added and the fermentation process begins and will last for 7-14 days.
- Once the fermentation process is complete, the beer is ready to be bottled or put in a keg, and in a few weeks they’re ready to drink.
That’s the beer making process in summary. As you can see it’s just like a baking a cake from scratch whereby if you follow the recipe you’ll end up with a very nice homemade beer.