After you have assembled all of your home brewing
One of the most important steps to making top notch beer is to make certain all of your equipment that will actually be in contact with the beer is adequately cleaned. Any of the equipment that will actually come in contact with your beer right after the boil MUST also be sanitized. If the equipment is not thoroughly sanitized undesired microorganisms could certainly spoil your beer, making all your effort a waste of time and energy. Take some time to set up the brewing area. Ensure that all your equipment and ingredients will be readily accessible. For those who choose to use liquid yeast, take it out of the refrigerator so that it can warm up to room temperature. One more necessary thing is documentation, always have a notebook on hand for keeping track of all of your brews. You will need to record the ingredients and exactly what portions were used and also times of each step. You will want to be able to duplicate your best batches and also gain knowledge from the ones which aren't so good. Let's get started. 1. Sanitize Equipment. There are lots of sanitizers on the market. Several of the typical choices are B-Brite, Star San, and 5-Star. You can also use normal, unscented household bleach at 1 oz. for each gallon of water. If you decide to use bleach make sure that you rinse your equipment due to the fact it can cause undesirable flavors in your beer. Personally I recommend working with Star San. Put the required quantity of sanitizer to the fermenter and fill it to the top with water. Also fill your bottling bucket or some other appropriate container with sanitizing solution for sanitizing other equipment. Place all the equipment that will come in contact with the unfermented beer following the boil in the sanitizing solution. These items should include: airlock, rubber stopper, funnel and strainer. 2. Water For Brewing. Add water to the brew kettle. Understand that there needs to be room for your boil. Assuming you have a 5 gallon kettle, just fill it with about 3.5 gallons of water. The quality of the water is incredibly important to your finished beer. If your plain tap water tastes all right at room temperature, it will probably be fine for brewing. You might want to think about filtering your tap water using a typical home water filter if you have access to one. You could also choose to buy bottled water from the supermarket. After you have put the water in the brew kettle place it on the stove and turn on the burner. Also at this time put the unopened container of malt extract in hot water. This will warm the extract up making it less difficult to get out of the container when it is needed. 3. Steep Specialty Grains. This step is optional. Using specialty grains will improve the control you have over the color and flavor of the finished beer. If you choose to utilize specialty grains place them in the grain bag supplied in your home brewing kit. As soon as the water gets to 150 degrees F put the grain bag in the water and steep it for around 30 minutes keeping the temperature constant. After 30 minutes has passed take out your grain bag and let the liquid drain out. Do not squeeze the bag, this tends to draw out tannins contained in the husks of the grain and give the beer an astringent flavor. 4. The Boil. Gently bring the liquid in the kettle to a boil. After the liquid begins to boil add the container of malt extract. Make certain to continually mix while slowly adding the extract so that none of it settles to the bottom and becomes scorched. When the liquid is again boiling it's time for you to add the bittering hops. Slowly add the hops, sometimes the kettle will boil over as soon as the hops are added. Usually the hops are in a pellet form and are added directly to the boil. They are going to settle out after the boil. Note the time of the hop addition. Continue to boil for a total time of 60 minutes. Do not ever leave the boil unwatched. It will usually tend to boil over when you least expect it! When there are 20 minutes left in the boil add the Irish Moss. The Irish Moss helps the proteins coagulate following the boil. Don't worry if you do not have the Irish Moss, your beer will be all right without it but I would recommend it for your next brew. Aroma hops are usually added any time from 15 to 0 minutes prior to the conclusion of the boil. Follow the instructions in your recipe. The aroma hops will add an additional hop flavor and aroma to the beer but are not going to add any significant bitterness. When you have boiled for 60 minutes remove the kettle from the burner. You'll want to have some hot mitts ready for moving the hot kettle. The liquid in your kettle is now known as wort (pronounced wert). 5. Cooling The Wort. The wort should be cooled off as quickly as possible. The simplest way is to place the kettle in the sink or bathtub that contains a cold bath of ice water. Leave the kettle in the ice water bath until it's approximately 80 degrees F. Add additional ice to your cold bath if necessary. Putting ice right into the wort is not recommended. All of the flavors in the ice will be also added to your beer. You can slowly stir your wort in a clockwise motion to help it cool but remember to keep the spoon sanitary. Allow the wort to rest at least 10 minutes after the last time it was stirred before you start transferring to your fermenter. This time will allow the particulate matter to settle to the bottom. 6. Prepare The Fermenter. As the wort is cooling empty the sanitizer out of the fermenter. If you chose to use bleach make sure to give it a rinse. Most of the other sanitizers tend to be a no rinse solution. Just turn the fermenter upside-down and let all the solution drain out. If your brew kettle has only 4 gallons of wort in it you should add 1 gallon of water to the fermenter. The goal is to have a total amount of 5 gallons in the fermenter. Remember the water should really be the same kind as you used in the kettle. 7. Transfer The Cooled Wort To The Fermenter. Use the sanitized funnel and strainer to steadily pour the wort into the fermenter. It is all right to leave a small quantity of wort behind with the trub (hops and proteins) in the bottom of the kettle. It is better to lose a small amount of wort and keep the trub out of your fermenter. The ONLY period of time that splashing the wort is encouraged is during and right after this particular transfer. Yeast needs oxygen to properly ferment the wort. You can also gently shake your fermenter once all the wort is in it. A stick on thermometer placed on the fermenter is a worthwhile item that will enable you to know when the wort reaches the right temperature to pitch the yeast. 8. Take A Hydrometer Reading. Once the wort has cooled to roughly 70-75 degrees F it's time for you to take a hydrometer reading. If you're utilizing a bucket to ferment it is going to be less of a challenge to get a sample than when using a carboy. Either way recall that anything that touches the wort MUST be sanitary. Home brew supply stores offer a sample-taker to get the wort out from your carboy otherwise you might utilize something like a turkey baster. This hydrometer reading is known as the original gravity. It'll be used with the final gravity reading taken when the beer is fermented to compute the alcohol percentage. Skip this step if you do not have a hydrometer. It isn't essential to acquire these readings however, you will surely want to get one if you continue to make your own beer. 9. Pitch The Yeast. It is now time to pitch (add) the yeast. Ensure that the wort is 70-75 degrees F if you're pitching an ale yeast. For beginners I wouldn't suggest using lager yeast considering that it requires cooler fermentation temperatures and takes much longer to ferment. When you are using dry yeast follow any directions for hydrating the yeast on the package prior to pitching it in the fermenter. If you are utilizing liquid yeast, shake it in the tube and then immediately add it directly to the fermenter. After the yeast is pitched insert the rubber stopper with the airlock in the top of the carboy or put the lid on the bucket and insert the airlock. Carefully agitate the fermenter to stir the yeast around. 10. Fermentation. Place the fermenter in a location that is around 65-70 degrees F. Also it's necessary to keep it somewhere dark or wrapped in a towel to keep light out. The airlock should be continuously bubbling in about 24 hours. Fermentation times will vary but it normally takes 3 to 7 days for ale yeasts. Once the initial fermentation stops allow an additional 7 days for settling for a total of around two weeks before bottling the beer. I hope that these directions were helpful to you. When you have completed these steps you will be well on your way to having your very own home brewed beer to enjoy!