Fancy brewing beer? Well, you can and should because it is really easy. Did you realize that you can make 40 pints of very good quality beer in about 3 weeks? Most starter beer kits contain very easy-to-follow instructions. So long as you follow them closely, remembering to keep your homebrew equipment clean, then you will soon be enjoying your homemade beer with your mates.
There is some starter homebrew equipment you will need upfront. This can be bought either as a complete beginner’s kit or as individual items. Once you have got them though, your beer will cost you as little as about 40p per pint. And it tastes as good as (better in some cases) any pub beer.
So, what do you need to start with? Well, you can either buy a complete beer making starting kit or the separate bits below: –
- 25 Litre brewing bin/bucket
- paddle / stirrer / big spoon
- Siphon tubing
- Sterilizer powder
- Beer kit (includes yeast sachet)
- 40-pint barrel or 24 1 liter bottles
I usually recommend to people that they start with a complete kit. This ensures you have everything you need.
The following applies to the Woodforde’s Wherry beer kit and some others will vary a little, so do follow the instructions supplied.
OK, so you have your equipment. This is how easy it is: –
Firstly but very importantly, sterilize all of your brewing equipment. The instructions should be printed on the tub the sterilizing powder came in. 3-4 teaspoons of powder are added to the fermenting bin. Add about 10 liters of warm water. Place into this any other equipment you are using such as the stirring paddle, hydrometers, and thermometers. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes. It’s best to swish the solution over the inner sides of the bin a few times.
While you wait, stand the unopened tins of malt extract in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. This softens the malt and enables most of the contents to be easily poured out.
Then open the tin(s) and pour the malt into the clean fermenting bin. You can use a little boiling water to rinse the last bits out but be very careful, the tin(s) will be hot.
Next, add 3.5 liters (6 pints) of boiling water to the extract and mix with the spoon, ensuring all the contents are completely dissolved.
Now top up with cold water to a total of 23 liters (40 pints) and mix thoroughly again. Then snip the top from the yeast sachet and pour in whilst stirring.
That’s all for the moment. Easy isn’t it! Fit the lid on the bucket and leave it to stand for about 4 to 6 days in a warm place (between 18-20 degrees C / 66 – 70 degrees F). In colder months, you should consider buying a brew belt. These are easy-to-use and economical heaters that simply fix around the fermenting bucket and keep your brew at a constant temperature until you start bottling, usually about 5 days.
After a day or two, you will see a thick crust forming on the top of the liquid as the yeast starts to eat the sugar. This means fermentation has started. Fermentation is complete when bubbles cease to rise through the liquid, usually between 4 – 6 days.
You are now ready to transfer your brew to the barrel or bottles, whichever you prefer. This is maybe the trickiest part of the process but is easy once you are used to it. First siphon the beer from the fermenting bucket, avoiding disturbing the sediment. Using the siphon provided, fix the tube to the inside of the fermenter but not quite reaching the sediment.
Then suck the tube to start the siphon process. Fitting a tap or a little bottler if using bottles makes this process a lot easier and will also avoid messy floors and worktops or maybe a divorce! Next, add a teaspoon or two of sugar to each liter of beer. This will condition the beer, using up the remaining yeast in the mix, and provide a little carbonation to result in a nice lively beer.
Now the hard bit. Yes, you have to wait! Stand your bottles or barrel in a warm place for 2 days and then transfer to a cool place for at least 14 days or until it has cleared. Ignore any sediment in the bottom. This may look like a thin white/ brown layer on the bottom of the bottles. This can be avoided with careful pouring when drinking although it won’t hurt you anyway.
So that’s it. How easy is that eh? Now you just need to drink your beer. Oh and don’t forget to start the next batch ready for when it runs out. And of course, don’t forget that the second batch is so much cheaper without the starter equipment costs.