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A 10 minute crash course in brewing beer.

Brewing beer really isn’t more difficult than cooking a meal. If you can follow the directions you’ll be fine! You’re probably aware that beer contains four ingredients:
Water
Good clean water is the basis of good beer. If tap water is good enough to drink, it’s good enough to brew. Otherwise filtered or bottled water is necessary.
Yeast
The real MVPs of the brewing process. These little guys live the high life! Their job is to eat up all the sugars in the wort (another name for unfermented beer). They then convert the sugars into alcohol and CO2, making your beer boozy and carbonated! Here’s to the little guys.

Note: most strains of yeast require temperatures between around 68-74 degrees. If you can't keep your beer temperature in that range, you risk the yeast not behaving normally. Some lager yeasts thrive in a much lower temperature, and some belgian strains need the heat cranked up into the 80s, but most standard styles need to be kept within that range.

Malted Barley
These grains allow fermentation to happen, and are a key determinant of the strength and style of your beer. Ever wonder why a stout is so dark? It’s because dark, roast malts are heavily utilized. When you first start brewing you’ll be using malt extracts, which comes in syrup or powder form. Extracts simplify the brewing process while still yielding delicious beer in your favorite style!
Hops
These buds give your beer flavor and aroma. There are many different varieties of hops, and each impart slightly different effects on your beer. Recipes will advise you on which hops to use, so don’t get overwhelmed at the selection out there.
There are myriad tanks, filters, coolers and other gadgets out there that can make the brewing process seem impossibly complicated. In reality, only a few basic components are required to get started, all of which should cost $50-75 at the most.
5 gallon Stainless Steel Pot
This is what you brew your beer in!
Grain and Hop Bags
Necessary for steeping any non-extract grains and hops during the brew cycle. One-use bags are very cheap, or buy reusable ones for a few extra dollars.
Thermometer
Leave it in the pot and keep an eye on the wort temperature - too hot and the flavor can be impacted!
Auto Siphon and Tubing
The easiest way to transfer your ingredients from one vessel to another. Essentially a hose with a pump on one end.
Fermenter
Where the yeast converts your wort into beer! Can be made of glass (also called a carboy) or food-grade plastic.
Airlock
A plug that sits atop the fermentation tank to keep air out and prevent contamination.
Bottling bucket
Not essential, but a huge time and effort saver. The bottling bucket is a separate bucket with an on/off spigot near the bottom. Allows for easy bottling.
Bottle Capper and Bottlecaps
A necessity on bottling day to cap your beer into bottles.
This is a one-size-fits-all beginner's guide for brewing beer. The recipes section hones in on individual styles, and all you have to do is plug the stated amounts of each ingredient there into this universal recipe.
1. Plan Ahead
Make sure you have everything you need. Getting 80% of the way there only to realize you’ve forgotten something is a real drag. Measure twice, cut once, as my father likes to say. Make sure you have Star-San cleaner, a bag or two of ice, priming sugar and beer to drink while brewing. Make sure any specialty grains you're using have been crushed! Homebrew shops have mills for this purpose, and any grains you buy online should be pre-crushed.
2. Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize!
The number one reason for off-tasting beer is poor sanitization practices. Fill a large bucket (ideally your fermenter if it’s plastic) with water and about an ounce of Star-San. Drop in your siphon, air lock, stirring spoon, lid, a pair of scissors and anything else you may be using during brew day. When in doubt, sanitize again. It never hurts. There's no need to sanitize the pot since you’ll be boiling the contents. Just make sure it's washed and clean.
3a. Slap the Bag!

You Brew You strongly recommends using Wyeast brand liquid yeast. It's by far the easiest and most convenient option. If you're using dry yeast, skip to 3b.

Much like Franzia bags at college parties (so I’m told), Wyeast bags first require a good slap. Feel the bag and locate the inner pouch, give it a good smack (or two), shake it up and listen to make sure it’s started fizzing. Then set the bag aside and watch as it expands over the next few hours. By the time you’re ready to pitch the yeast the bag will have ballooned up and be ready to go.
3b. Get hydrated.
Dry yeast requires hydration prior to use.
  • First, sanitize a cup while boiling one cup of water. Pour the water into the sanitized cup and get the temperature down around 100 degrees.
  • Next, mix in your dry yeast and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in a small spoonful of sugar. Cover the solution again and give the yeast a little while to wake up.
  • After about 20 minute the yeast should be up and at it. Pitch it when ready!
4. Heat the water
Fill your pot with around 2.5 gallons of water. Crank up the burner until the water is roughly 160 degrees.
5. Add Specialty Grains
Some recipes call for specialty grains that are separate from the extracts. Add these to the grain bag and drop them in. Make sure they’re crushed! Steep the grains for 20-30 minutes while maintaining as steady of a temperature as possible. While you're doing this fill a second small pot with a gallon of water and get it up to 170 degrees. This is your sparge water.
6. The Sparge
Some of the sugars we want are still stuck in the grain bag! Suspend the bag over the pot and slowly pour the gallon of sparge water all over the bag (an assistant is really helpful here.) This pulls more of the sugars into your main pot. If you're brewing alone, you can drop the grain bag into the gallon of water, open the bag up without letting the grains out and mix it all up with the water. Then suspend the bag again until the drips slow down. Once you're done sparging you can compost the grains, or dry and grind them into flour for cooking.
7. Add Malt Extract
Crank up the burner. Once it's boiling, take the pot off the heat and add the malt extracts, mixing thoroughly while pouring in. It helps to have an assistant here. Pro tip: spread some of the extract stuck to the bottle or bucket it came in on a piece of toast. It’s delicious.
8. Begin the Hop Cycle
Once the extracts are added and mixed, put the pot back on the burner, get the wort to a rolling boil, and start the timer for one hour, making sure to keep the lid off. Follow your recipe’s instructions for the hop cycle. For example, it might say ‘1.5 oz Cascade Hops - 45 minutes’. This means you add one ounce of Cascade hops fifteen minutes into the cycle, as there are 45 minutes remaining. Put them in your hop bag, tie the bag up, and drop it in. It helps to have the bag easily accessible throughout the cycle, as you’ll be adding more hops throughout.
9. Drop the Temperature
A few minutes before the hop cycle ends, clear out your kitchen sink, plug the drain and put some ice on the bottom. When the cycle ends, remove the hop bag, put your pot on top of the ice, dump more ice around the pot filling the sides of the sink, and fill the sink with cold water, taking care not to let any get in the pot. Keep the lid either uncovered or partially covered, allowing steam to exit. The goal is to get the temperature down as fast as possible.
10. Transfer to the Tank
Once the temperature has dropped under 90 degrees or so (usually takes around 15 minutes) use the siphon to transfer the wort into your fermentation tank. Add cool water to the wort - enough to bring the total volume to five gallons. Close the lid and gently rock the tank to mix together the wort and water.
11. Pitch the Yeast
Open the lid, cut open the yeast bag with your sanitized scissors and add the yeast. Close the lid and rock it again, allowing the yeast to get acquainted with their new home.
12. Let the Fermentation Begin!
Put some water and a drop of star san into the air lock and plug the tank. Put the tank in a corner of your home that is away from sunlight and stays around 68-72 degrees. Wrapping the tank in towels is never a bad idea. Congratulations, you've finished brew day! Check your tank over the next few days - after 12-24 hours the air lock should be happily bubbling away.
13. Dry Hop
Some beers call for dry hopping. This involves dropping a few ounces of hops into the beer for the last 7-10 days of fermentation. Dry hopping imparts little flavor, but can give your beer an excellent aroma boost.
14. Bottling day
After a few weeks have passed and the beer is ready to be bottled, assemble your collection of empty bottles (you’ll need around four dozen 12oz bottles). Sanitize the bottles, bottle caps, bottling bucket, spigot and siphon.
15. Primetime
Boil 16 ounces of water and add 3/4 cup of priming sugar (typically corn sugar.) Stir until dissolved and set aside. Once relatively cool, add to the bottom of the sanitized bottling bucket. This is the priming solution that allows your beer to carbonate in the bottles. If you don't have corn sugar, you can use 2/3 cup of regular white sugar instead.
16. Prepare to Bottle
Siphon the beer from your fermentation bucket to the bottling bucket, allowing the priming solution to mix with the beer. Be careful to not let the hose hit the bottom, as there will be an inch or so of sludge that you’ll want to leave behind. Try to avoid splashing, as that causes aeration which we don’t want at this stage.
17. Bottling Line
Fill the sanitized bottles with beer, leaving about an inch at the top. Cap the bottle, wiping off spills if necessary. Once all bottles are capped, put them in a box, get them into a cool and dark place, and forget about them for another couple weeks.
18. Taste Test
Has it been 7-14 days? Time to try your beer! Throw one in the fridge and give it a taste once cold. Remember - you MADE this! Pay attention to what you like or don’t like about it. Next time you brew, you have the power to make any necessary adjustments to make it the perfect beer for you. Congratulations on brewing! No matter how it tastes, be proud of your accomplishment. Every brewer ruins a few batches so don’t get down on yourself if it isn’t exactly right.