Homebrewing is easy. Can you boil water? Do you like "good" beer? Then this is the hobby for you. Homebrew stores often have starter kits available around $50 or so, local prices will vary but Internet stores will make sure everyone stays competitive. Use you local store when ever possible, after all, they have the know how and are willing to share their info whenever they can. Here is a list of what you need to get started.
Step one: Clean
In homebrewing cleanliness is next to godliness. Now don't let this scare you. Keeping things clean is not hard. I'm not the neatest person in the world (as my wife and mother will attest to), but this isn't that difficult. Besides it is important if you don't want your beer to taste funny. Keeping the wild yeast and bacteria out of you beer is the most important thing that you can do for good beer. Here is how.
Step two: Mix and Boil
Now the actual beer making can begin. Most of the work has been done for us if you use malt extracts. If you want to make All-Grain beer look here. Malt extracts are the result of companies malting and mashing the barley into something that has either the consistency of syrup in liquid form or that of powdered sugar in solid form. To make beer from this is as simple as pouring it into a pot of water (about a gallon and a half) and boiling for thirty minutes to an hour. Specialty grains and hops are also added at this time if you choose to use them.
Step three: It's off to the Fermentor
Once the "wort" (that would be what this stuff in the pot is called) is boiled it is added to more water in your fermentation bucket for a total of about 5 gallons. This would be a good time to check the "specific gravity" with your handy dandy hydrometer. This is the first step in determining how much alcohol your beer will have, called "original gravity". Seal up the bucket and add the airlock and let it sit for a week or so. Once fermentation has stopped you take your second specific gravity reading or "Final Gravity" and it is time to bottle. To determine Alcohol content with original and final gravity just follow the instructions that come with the hydrometer.
Step four: Bottling
Bottling is pretty simple. You can either add a cup of sugar or malt extract to the entire 5-gallon batch or you can add 1 TBSP to each bottle. Both methods work, it is really up to you. Once your sugar is added simply siphon the beer from the fermenter to the bottles and cap. Or if you have an extra 5-gallon bucket you can convert it into a "bottling bucket". Man are these handy. A bottling bucket is a bucket that is equipped with a spigot. Siphon the beer into the bottling bucket and pour into the bottles. Yes it is one more thing that needs to be sanitized, but you can pay more attention to not getting sediment from the bottom of your fermenter into the bottles. Also you don't get beer all over the floor when you siphon hose doesn't want to crimp and the bottle you are filling overflows (Yes as a matter of fact this did happen to me. That is why I now have a bottling bucket, the wife was most unhappy).
Step five: Carbonating
Once bottled, the beer must be allowed to carbonate for about a week. The yeast and sugar go back to work and put the bubbles in your beer. Once it has carbonated it is time for step six.
Step Six: Serve and Drink
Chill the beer, pour into a glass being carefull not to disturb the sediment on the bottom of the bottle and drink with great relish and pleasure.
Beer isn't the only thing that you can brew at home. There is also wine and mead. They follow the same basic formula, but they must be aged longer, a lot longer. So go ahead and start making the beer now and start your wine and mead making after you first batch of beer is ready. That way you will have something to drink while you are waiting on the wine.
A couple of friends have asked what I am using for a reference. That would be
The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition
Actually I use the second edition "The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing" but it is no longer in print. So here you go.
Other choices would be found here.
what you need to get started
Keeping it clean
Wine and Mead Recipes
Beer recipes updated 30Aug08
All-grain beer recipesupdated 23 Mar 09
Usefull books on Homebrew
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