Home brewing isn’t just a “Dad” hobby anymore. It’s becoming increasingly popular with women and people under 30, according to a survey conducted by the Brewers Association. You can purchase ingredients for five gallons of beer for around $50, making it an economical option to store-bought beer—but even more so, brewing your own beer is just plain fun. Here’s how to get started:
What You’ll Need
Visit a local homebrew shop to pick up these supplies, or order supplies online.
- 4-gallon pot to brew your wort
- 6-gallon lidded fermentation bucket to hold your brew (these have an airlock to allow gases to escape)
- 6-gallon bottling bucket (should come with a spigot)
- Airlock and stopper
- Siphon and racking cane, to siphon the brew from your fermentation bucket to your bottling bucket
- Sanitizing powder (to sanitize all equipment)
- Beer bottles (you can get recycled bottles or new ones at a brew store) and bottle caps
- Instant-read thermometer to measure the temperature of the brew
- Hydrometer to measure the beer’s specific gravity and calculate ABV (alcohol by volume)
- Recipe and ingredients (grains, liquid or dried malt extract, hops, yeast)
A few notes about the above: Swing-top bottles (like Grolsch) work well, but they’ll need new o-rings to be used. Apple Rubber can help you size your purchase replacements. And you can find lots of beer recipes online, but we like this list of 10 favorites from Popular Mechanics.
Your recipe will give you exact directions regarding time and temperature, but the general process remains the same. As a start, add water to your brew pot and heat. Pour grains into a cheesecloth sock and place the sock in the brew pot, heating the grains per your recipe and removing the grains when time is up. Bring the liquid to a boil, then add in your malt extract and stir until dissolved. Add your bittering hops and boil for the recommended time, usually 45-90 minutes. Then add your flavoring hops for the last couple minutes of your boil.
When time’s up, cool the wort in an ice bath to 60 or 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’ve done an extract brew and only made 2-3 gallon of wort, add cool water to bring your batch up to the standard 5-gallon amount. Add your pitched yeast to the brew and stir thoroughly. Measure the specific gravity with your hydrometer. Put the lid on your fermentation bucket, place the bucket in a secure area and add your airlock. In two weeks, your beer will be fully fermented and ready to bottle.
Bottling and Storing Your Brew
Before you bottle, clean your bottles by hand or run them through the dishwasher. Have sanitizer, caps and your capper on hand. Add a small amount of corn sugar, which will carbonate the beer. Siphon the beer from the fermentation bucket into the bottling bucket. Using the spigot on the bottling bucket, pour beer into the bottle until 1 inch from the top. Cap and store for at least two weeks, then crack one open and enjoy. Don’t forget to sanitize every piece of equipment that comes into contact with your beer.