Home Brew Process

Here is a generic process for brewing extract beer that I use. I'm on my third batch, so I welcome your feedback. All temperatures are in Fahrenheit. This list is not "How to Brew", it's how I brew.

Before your Brew

  1. Read How to Brew and don't be overwhelmed or intimidated. You can do this!
  2. A couple of days before the brew find a recipe
  3. The night before the brew check your equipment.
  4. You are going to need a lot of ice if you are not using a wort chiller. You can start stealing ice from the freezer and bagging it, or you can buy bags on brew day. It all depends on the sink you are filling. I managed to get away with a large bag plus what I was able to scavenge from the freezer.
  5. Fill a sink with 3 gallons of warm water and 6 tablespoons of PBW.
  6. Clean the bottling bucket.
  7. Clean the brew pot.
  8. Start 3 gallons of water boiling.
  9. When the water is done boiling, remove from heat and cover. Allow it to cool overnight.

Brew Day

  1. The day of the brew, "relax, don't worry, have a homebrew". Don't let the huge list of things to do stress you out. Enjoy the process. You are brewing beer!
    Beer
  2. Check your yeast instructions. Do you need to take the packages out of the fridge? Start a starter?
  3. Clean the bottling bucket.
  4. Clean the fermenter.
  5. Put 3 gallons of water into the fermenter and sanitize it with 1 tablespoon of Star San. Make sure every square inch of the carboy is exposed to Star San for at least 30 seconds.
  6. Pour the Star San into the bottling bucket.
  7. Clean and sanitize a carboy cap.
  8. Clean and sanitize a funnel.
  9. Using the funnel, pour the clean water from last night's boil into the fermenter if it is cool enough not to break the glass. Cover with the cap.
    Clean water
  10. Clean the brew pot with PBW to remove any salts that might be on it.
  11. Fill the brew pot with 3 gallons of water.
  12. Bring to 150°.
  13. Follow the instructions for steeping grains in your recipe. If there are no grains, skip the next step.
    Steep
  14. Once the grains have steeped, remove the bag, but do not squeeze it. The problem with squeezing out the bag is that bitter tannins will get released into the beer. Here's how my wort looked after steeping.
    After steeping

    Save the spent grains. They will make great dog treats.

    Dog Treats
  15. Follow the recipe and add the extract stirring constantly to avoid burning the sugar to the bottom of the pot.
  16. Once you are sure the extract is dissolved, start boiling.

The Boil

  1. The boil is a very exciting time, be sure to watch for boil over. We have had one. It happens really quickly. I have a squirt bottle of cold water ready to stop it from happening again.
  2. When the foamy hot break dies down, review the recipe for hop addition times. I noticed the hot break was down enough after 10 minutes. That's when I started the boil timer for hop additions. Here's a picture of the hot break.
    Boil
  3. When the boiling time is up, remove the hops if you used bags. Otherwise, strain them out when you pour the wort into the fermenter.
  4. Chill the wort ASAP. I used an ice bath with ice cream salt. I managed to get it chilled to about 70° in 15 minutes. I gently stirred the wort during the ice bath.
    As the ice melted from the warm pot, I siphoned the melted water and added more ice and salt several times.
    Chill
  5. Make sure to wipe the water off the bottom and sides of your pot, so that water from the ice bath does not drip into your wort. Ice cream salt and beer would not be a good combination.
  6. Pour the wort into the fermenter. I did not strain it because I used bags.
  7. Have an extra gallon of clean water ready in case you are under 5 gallons. I had to add ¾ of a gallon after pouring.
  8. Shake it up for 2 minutes to add oxygen.
  9. Clean and sanitize a racking cane, test jar, and hydrometer.
  10. Using your racking cane, fill the test jar. Measure the gravity with a hydrometer. This measurement is the original gravity (OG) reading. Take a taste, but don't judge the quality yet. The yeast will eat up the sugar, release flavor, and alcohol.
  11. Pitch the yeast into the fermenter.
  12. Place sanitized cap and airlock on top of fermenter
    Fermenting

Fermenting

  1. My lag time was about 18 hours. That's when I started hearing bubbles.
  2. My room temperature is averaging 73°.
  3. Here's what the fermenter looked like after two days. Good thing we had a blow-off tube.
    Fermenting
  4. After three to four weeks in the fermenter, take a final gravity (FG) reading each day for three days. It is safe to bottle if the readings are consistent.
  5. Using your last reading, calculate the Alcohol By Volume (ABV) and International Bitterness Units (IBU)

Bottling

  1. Clean the bottles with PBW and a bottle brush.
  2. Rinse the bottles with water and sanitize with Star San.
  3. Clean and sanitize the a bottling bucket or another carboy.
  4. Prepare a simple syrup to prime the bottling carboy. We boiled ¾ cup of corn sugar in 2 cups of water. I read about this amount in How to Brew.
  5. Sanitize the siphon and tubing.
  6. Now that the bottling carboy is primed with sugar, gently rack the beer from the fermenter into it. Be sure to leave any settled yeast at the bottom of the fermenter alone.
  7. Place the bottling carboy on a counter and a towel on the floor.
  8. Put a large Tupperware bowl on top of the towel to catch spilled beer.
  9. Sanitize the siphon, tubing, and the beer bottle filler.
  10. Fill the bottles to overflowing. As you remove the bottle filler, the volume will drop to just the right amount. Gently stir the beer after filling six bottles.
    Bottling
  11. When all of the bottles are filled, place them in a dark place for 3 - 6 weeks.
    Bottles of beer
  12. Clean everything. Bottling took minutes, but cleaning took hours. Just enter a meditative state and dream of beer.

Enjoying

After cold conditioning in the fridge for a week, I opened my first bottle of homebrew on April, 12th, 2013. There was some sediment at the bottom of the bottle, but that is normal.

You should open a bottle of homebrew in a sink just in case it's over-carbonated.

Pour with vigor into the glass! The sediment should stick to the bottom if the bottle is still cold.

After pouring, save and clean the bottle for the next brew.

Some beers taste better with time. Our Crimson Hefe didn't start tasting really great until it was about four months old. We plan on letting the Donkers, our Belgium Tripel, age for 6 months before we let other people try it.

Stay tuned and be sure to send me feedback on my process.