Beer Coming Out of Your Ears-Brewing Beer From Scratch

By into the rustic - 5:33 PM

A Brief History of the Genius of Beer Making

They love to argue over the facts of how and when Beer was first discovered. Some historians claim that beer was an accidental invention..a happy one at that. They say that the ancient Egyptians and the people of Mesopotamia discovered that when barley got wet and germinated, that when it was dried once more, that the grain would taste much sweeter. They used to add this to breads and cakes, which today we know this process as Malting. Now these historians further suggest that these malted grains, when they were still soaking in water, became contaminated with some wild yeast. The yeast fed on the grains natural sugars making a bubbling mixture of malted barley and alcohol. Et voila! The early stages of beer was born!

Now of course over time we became more sophisticated in the process. Local regions hearing of the beer making process, adapted that to their types of local grains and ingredients. This produced locally made, very locally tasting, variations of beer.

The earliest known beer recipe was discovered in ancient Sumeria on a 19th century B.C. tablet called Hymn to Ninkasi. Ninkasi was the Sumerians goddess of brewing, and this was a poem written in dedication to her and to the entire process they used to make beer.

Getting Started

Having everything ready ahead of time, and following precise instructions, will ensure that not only will your beer not taste like dishwater, but that you won't have any exploding bottles. There is some exactness to this process, so pay close attention.

Equipment Needed

1-Large Enamel/Stainless Steel Kettle with a Lid minimum size of at least 5 gallons-used to boil the brewing water and wort, which is the sugary malt extract solution that becomes beer

2-Large Stainless Steel Spoon (For stirring the wort)

3-6.5-10 Gallon Plastic fermenting bucket with a tight fitting lid that accepts an airlock piece(Plastic MUST be food grade, and the best place to find this is a home brewery store)

4-Racking Tube and 5 feet clear plastic hose(The racking tube should be 3/8 " in diameter and the clear hose should be 5/16" in diameter-check your local home brewery stores- these materials are used for siphoning beer from one container to another. )

5-5 Gallon Glass carboy- You can find this at bottled water companies or at a home brewery store-MUST BE GLASS!! This will be used as your secondary fermenter.

6-Three-piece airlock and No. 6.5 drilled white rubber stopper- Again, found at your local home brewery store, this will fit in snugly into your glass carboy . This piece is very important as it allows carbon dioxide to escape and prevents air from seeping in.

7- Carboy and bottle brushes- used to clean out the brewing containers

8- Bottle Capper- Check home brewery stores;The best kind has a stand for using one-handed

9-Hydrometer and a Sample Jar- The hydrometer measures the amount of sugar in the wort before the fermentation process begins. When fermentation is initiated, the sugar converts into alcohol. By comparing the sugar content before and after the process, this allows you to determine the alcohol content of your batch. Note:Hydrometers are only accurate at 60º F- Yours should come with a chart and instructions on how to correct your measurements based on temperature variations.

10- Thermometer- Best if bought at a lab supply store or home brewery store. You want a dial thermometer that is marked off at 1-degree increments and has an adjusting nut to allow calibration. The range should be on this thermometer from 32ºF to 212ºF or 0ºC to 100ºC.

11-Scale- You can find this at a kitchen supply store or at a home brewery store. You will need a small scale with a full range from 0-4 or 0-8 ounces, marked out in 1/4 ounce divisions. This will let you accurately weigh out the hops and specialty malts.

12- Bottles & Caps- Beer brewery supply stores, liquor stores, bars-The best ones to use are the brown returnable long-necks.

13- Fine-mesh nylon straining bag-This needs to be a very fine mesh to steep such ingredients as your malt grains

14- 4 1-Gallon jugs-glass preferred- These will be used for storing cold brewing water in your refrigerator


1-Malt Extract- You can buy yours in a home brewery supply store, or you can make your own-->(see below for instructions)

Making Your Own Malt Extract

Step 1: Steeping the Barley

Put your grains into a bucket filled with water so that all the grains can float. Let them soak for 2 hours like this. Then using a fine strainer, remove the grains and let them air dry for about 8 hours. This will allow the chaff to fall off (the light shell coating on the kernels) and leave only clean kernels. Repeat this step at least 2 more times. Within the first 24 hours of steeping, you should start to see small roots, called "Chits" growing from the base of your kernels. Stop the steeping process once you have 95% of your kernels germinated.

Step 2: Germinating the Grains

Spread the kernels onto a paper towel lined cooking pan. Take this an put it inside of a black garbage bag, closed tightly to keep in the moisture. At room temperature, barley can sprout in about 4-6 days.

Step 3: Stopping the Germination Process

This is very important!! You need to halt the germination when the main root (or Acrospire-note:this is not the hair-like roots, but the main root) is 3/4 to full length of the grains size. The Acrospire grows INSIDE the grain, so you will need to split open the grain to get the accurate measurement of it's length. If you wait until the root protrudes outside the grain, it may be too late in the germination process. Do this periodically to a test grain to determine when your grains are ready for the next step.

Step 4: Drying the Malt

Either by sun, or oven, or a dehydrator, you will need to dry your malted grains at a constant temperature of between 90ºF and 125ºF or 31-50ºC for 24 hours. IF you dry them at a higher temperature than this, you risk destroying the enzymes that are needed for the mashing process. These should be dried out until they only retain 10% of their moisture content. The weight of these dried grains with their attached rootlet, should be almost the same weight as they were BEFORE the steeping process began. When the rootlets naturally drop off of the grains, you know that the appropriate drying stage has been met!

Step 5: Finishing the Malt

At this stage, you now have a pale malt barley which is what you would find from your brewery supply store. You could crush it and begin the stages of beer brewing, or you can toast this to achieve darker beer colors.

Here are some Various Shades of Specialty Malts:

A.)Crystal Type Malts-Toast your malted grains at 275ºF for 1 hour.

B.)Medium Crystal Malt-Toast your malted grains at 350ºF for 15-30 min.

C.)Brown Malt-Toast your malted grains at 350ºF for 1 hour. Similar to commercial brown malt beers.

Step 6: Making the Malt Extract

Take some of your malted grains and crack them by grinding them very coarsely by rolling them over with a heavy rolling pin. Then put these cracked grains into 150ºF water and let them soak in this for about 6 hours. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth. This resulting liquid is your malt extract.

2-Water-Non-chorinated, filtered water is required. Almost all municipal waters are chlorinated, so if you are using this kind of water, it must be boiled for 15 minutes before using to brew with. Well water, must also be boiled before using to brew. It contains no chlorine, but often has bacteria in it that harms the brewing process. Boiling will kill these off.

3-Hops- The hops used in the brewing process are the cones or flowers of the female hop plant. These cones contain Alpha Acids which impart the bitter taste we love in beer and aromatic oils which give the traditional hops flavoring to many styles of beer. Hops come sold either dried and compressed as "whole hops" or "leaf hops". Sometimes they are ground into a powder and pressed into pellets called "pelletized hops". Choose your hops carefully, the easier method is not always the best method. For beginner brewers, the pellets are recommended though. Hops should be kept at cold temperatures, or they will deteriorate very quickly, in a matter of a few weeks. Once bought, store yours in your freezer. I will be including at a later date, a chapter on growing your own hops, it is extremely easy, and a must-have for regular home brewers. Stay tuned!

4-Brewers Yeast- Please do not be one of those sad yet hilarious stories where you try to save money and time by using bread yeast. It will only serve to ruin your batch of beer, and your reputation. There are SPECIFIC strains of beer yeast for the particular type of beer you want to brew. (I.e.) Ale yeast for Ale beers etc.

5-Specialty Grains- This is for you to specialize in what kind of beer you want to brew.

6-Sugars-Types are dependent on the type of recipe you are using and what beer you are brewing.

7-Yeast Nutrients- These are yeast energizers which speed up the fermenting process. Some recipes call for them, not a necessary addition though.

Brewing Your Beer-The "Basic Method"

This may seem complicated, but it's really not- it is just a series of steps that need to be followed carefully in order to achieve the desired results.

Step 1: Making the Wort

A couple of days before you start brewing, prepare 4 gallons of cold water. Boil the water for 15 minutes, then let cool covered. Clean and sanitize 4 1-Gallon glass jugs by washing them. Add 2 Tablespoons of bleach to one of the jugs, and fill to the brim with water. Let this solution stand for 10 minutes in each jug, before transferring the contents to the next one. Rinse the jugs out thoroughly several times each, and then fill the jugs with the cooled boiled water. Store these jugs in your refrigerator or in an ice-water bath.

Depending on your recipe, measure out the appropriate grains, and crush on a hard surface with a rolling pin. Place the grains in your nylon fine mesh bag.

Pour 2 gallons of hot tap water into your 5-Gallon kettle, and bring to a boil, covered. Turn off the heat and let this water stand, uncovered until the temperature falls to 160ºF. Then put your grain bag into the kettle and let this steep for a 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the bag. Add your malt extract and stir in well.

Step 2: Boiling the Wort

Turn on the heat again to high flame, and cover the kettle almost completely. Leave a small crack where you can peek in to check on your batch. As the wort starts to boil, foam will start to form on top. At this time, remove the cover to avoid the liquid from boiling over the top. Once the wort gets to a rolling boil, the foam will settle and you can put the cover back on. Just remember to leave a slight opening at the top for some steam to escape. Follow your specific beer recipe as to the length of the boil, and have your required hops measured out and weighed, ready to add at the right time as specified in the recipe. There are two kinds of hops added to beer recipes-there is the "bittering hops" and the "finishing" or "aroma hops".

Step 3: Sanitation of Fermenting Equipment

While your wort is boiling, take 2 Tablespoons of chlorine bleach per gallon of water and clean and sanitize your glass fermenting jug, the airlocks, the plastic hose and tubing. This will eliminate any bacteria which will ruin your brewing process. Remember to rinse everything several times in cold water to remove all the bleach residue and scent.

Step 4:Cooling the Wort and Pitching the Yeast

After the boiling of the wort is complete, let the wort solution stand covered for 10 minutes. Add 2 gallons of cold water that you prepared in your glass jugs in your refrigerator or ice-water bath. Take this mixture and now carefully pour it into your now sanitized fermenter glass jug (5 gallon glass jug). If you used whole hops, make sure you strain them out with a stainless steel strainer before putting solution into the fermenter. Add more cold water now to the fermenter to bring the level of liquid up to 5 gallons. This will lower the temperature of your wort quite a bit, but it will still be too hot to pitch your yeast yet. Cover your fermenter and stand this jug in a bathtub full of cold water or a large basin of cold water. Stir the wort every 20 minutes or so and check the temperature. When the temperature of the wort is at 60ºF, its time to pitch the yeast.

Take your hydrometer, sanitized as well, and take a specific gravity reading of your wort solution, before or after you pitch the yeast. During the cooling stage, boil a cup of water and then cool it to 100ºF. When the water is at the right temperature, add the yeast. Allow the yeast and water solution to stand for 10 minutes, but not longer than 30. Add this to the wort solution. Now the "pitching" means, aerating the solution-yeast needs oxygen in order to grow. So first, tightly seal your fermentor, and shake it vigorously for about 10 minutes. If you have trouble doing this, shake for 2 minutes, let it stand for an hour. Shake for another 2 minutes let stand again, and repeat this four times. If its still too heavy for you to shake, take a stainless steel spoon and stir the wort and yeast solution vigorously for 5 minutes and repeat this 4 more times.

Step 6: Fermentation

After pitching and aerating the wort solution, let it stand in a cool spot (62-68ºF), attach an airlock to the top, and leave it be. After 5-7 days, your beer should be fermented out. Meaning, there is no more sugar left to convert into alcohol. You can check this by observing the airlock. If the bubbling in the airlock as slowed down to once a minute, the fermentation process is pretty much over.

Step 7:Racking the Beer

First clean and sanitize your tube, plastic hose, carboy and stopper. Set your primary fermenter onto a tabletop. Open it up and insert the racking tube and attach the hose. Set the carboy beneath it on the floor. Start the siphoning process by sucking on the hose and then stopping it the flow by pinching the hose in the middle. Insert the hose through the mouth of the glass carboy and lower it until it rests on the bottom of the jar. Slowly unpinch the hose until there is at least an inch of beer in the bottom of the carboy. The reason for the gradual speed of liquid into the carboy is that you don't want to splash around and incorporate air into the beer, this will only lead to off flavors later on. Take your hydrometer and measure again the gravity of your beer to measure the process of the fermentation and compare it to your recipe. Take a sample jar, and divert a bit of the beer into this to do a proper reading with your hydrometer. Now put your airlock onto the carboy and allow it to sit for 5-7 days to partially clear before you start bottling.

Step 8:Bottling Your Beer

Rinse and disinfect all your bottles thoroughly, allowing to air dry upside down. For typical recipes (5 Gallons) you will need 54 12-ounce bottles. When the bottles are ready, make a syrup adding your priming sugar (specified in your recipes) to 2 cups of boiling water. Stir well to dissolve. Take your tube, hose and a plastic food grade bucket and sanitize and clean all. Rack your beer out of the carboy into the bucket and add the priming sugar syrup. Try not to splash but stir as vigorously as you can to 2 minutes to fully mix in the syrup evenly. Stand your plastic bucket on a table or high counter, and place the bottles below it. Start siphoning, crimping the hose as it starts to fill up to control the flow. Put the hose in the first bottle and slowly uncrimp. When the bottle is almost full, raise the hose to the level of the beer and let it flow slowly, raising it as the beer rises. Fill each bottle this way till 1/2" below the top of the bottle with very little splashing. You will have to fill the last few bottles by hand with a pitcher. Put the caps loosely on the tops of the bottles and let them sit for 15 minutes or so while you start cleaning up. This allows the bottle fermentation to start and drives some air out of the head-space. Cap the bottles, rinse the outsides, and when they are dry, store them upright in a case for a week at 60-65ºF. Then store in a cooler spot for an additional 3 more weeks (50ºF if possible) before drinking.

Beer Recipes

All recipes yield 5 Gallons of Beer

Pale Ale (Bitter)

Malt Extract: 3.3 lbs. British Pale Syrup, unhopped; plus 2 lbs. British pale dry, unhopped.

Specialty Grain: 8 oz. 40ºL. (degrees Lovibond) crystal malt

Bittering Hops: 11 AAUUs--Fuggles, Goldings, or Northern Brewer

Finishing Hops: 1.5 oz. Goldings

Yeast: two 7-gram packets Munton & Fison or 1 packet Edme or Whitbread

Priming Sugar: 1/2 cup corn sugar

Follow the "Basic Method" of brewing beer

Brewing Recipe Notes:

Original Gravity of Wort: 1.042

Total time of Boil: 45 Minutes

Add the bittering hops at the beginning of the boil

Add the finishing hops at the end of the boil

Terminal gravity at the end of fermentation: 1.007-1.011

Light Ale

Malt Extract:3.3 lbs British pale syrup, unhopped; plus 1 lb. British pale dry, unhopped.

Specialty Grain: 4 oz. 20ºL. (lovibond)Crystal Malt

Bittering Hops: 7 AAUUs--Fuggles, Goldings, or Northern Brewer

Finishing Hops: 1 oz. Goldings

Yeast: two 7-gram packets Munton & Fison or 1 packet Edme or Whitbread

Yeast nutrient: 1 teaspoon

Priming Sugar: 1/2 cup corn sugar

Follow the "Basic Method" of brewing beer

Brewing Recipe Notes:

Original Gravity: 1.033

Total time of boil: 45 minutes

Add the bittering hops at the beginning of boil

Add the finishing hops at the end of the boil

Terminal Gravity: 1.004-1.008


Malt Extract: 3.3 lbs. British Pale Syrup, unhopped; plus 2 lbs. British Pale dry, unhopped

Specialty Grain: 8 oz. roasted barley

Bittering Hops: 10 AAUUs--Northern Brewer or other high-alpha hops

Finishing Hops: none

Yeast: two 7-gram packets Munton & Fison or 1 packet Edme or Whitbread

Priming Sugar: 1/2 cup corn sugar

Follow the "Basic Method" of brewing beer

Brewing Recipe Notes:

Original Gravity: 1.042

Total time of boil: 45 minutes

Add the bittering hops at the beginning of the boil

Terminal Gravity: 1.007-1.011

Dry Stout

Malt Extract: 3.3 lbs. British Pale Syrup, unhopped; plus 2.5 lbs British pale dry, unhopped

Specialty Grain: 1 lb. roasted barley

Bittering Hops: 12 AAUUs--Northern Brewer or other high-alpha hops

Finishing Hops: none

Yeast: two 7-gram packets Munton & Fison or 1 packet Edme or Whitbread

Priming Sugar: 1/2 cup corn sugar

Follow the "Basic Method" of brewing ber

Brewing Recipe Notes:

Original Gravity: 1.048

Total time of boil: 45 minutes

Add the bittering hops at the beginning of the boil

Terminal Gravity: 1.010-1.014

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