So Marcus an English man, good friend of mine decided to offer me a beer kit for my birthday. I know this is a great gift to offer to a friend, because you know your friend is going to make some beer, and you will probably enjoy it too, if the result is acceptable of course.
So I had a little kit with some hops and malt concentrate powder. The malt was for a wheat beer, easy for a first try. You just have to respect some rules and it should be fine. A really good cleaning of everything you use, with some particular product.
I will try to show you the entire process.
First you need to sanitize everything who will be in contact with the wort (beer). Once you sanitize everything, you will need to bring to a boil 10 gallons of water (for 5 Gallon of beer).
I use an old keg and I cut the top to use it to boil my water, I installed a valve and a filter inside.
During the boiling process I prepared all the ingredient and quantity needed for my recipe, different kind of hop, sugar, paradise seed, cardamom, etc…
Also I put all my grains in a big cooler. In the cooler I also put a valve and a copper pipe inside with a lot of little hole so it filtered and only let the liquid go thru.
I know, this look like weed, and I am going to tell you it is not but it is from the same family.
Once the water is boilled you can add it, little by little, gently over the malt, don’t forget to steer so there is water going in every single grain to take all the sugar.
Then the goal is to keep a temperature of 149 F for a period of 90 mn, that is why the cooler is a good idea it will keep the wort warm.
After 90 mn it is time to open the valve at the bottom of the cooler and put that precious juice in my kettle.
See the malt will retain a lot of water. At this point you can decide to add more boil water and repeat the process this will make a lighter beer.
Ok now my wort is in the kettle I start the burner, I have to bring it to a boil and keep it for 90 mn. then you follow the recipe, you might have to put some hop at the beginning with some sugar (I use home-made candy sugar).
I use some cheese cloth to retain the hops, that help a lot, I don’t clog my filter at the bottom of my keg!
Now we have to bring to a boil our wort, be careful because when it start to boil it will make a huge foam on top, make sure you can control the temperature because it can be a big mess!
So after the 90 mn boil we are really close to have beer, we need to add the yeast. the problem is, if we put the yeast right now we are going to kill the yeast because the wort is too hot. We need to cool down the wort and as fast as possible. Why? Because this is in that range of temperature than some natural yeast can attack your wort and make it go bad! So you need to be quick and make sure everything is sanitize.
I built a wort chiller, it is a coil of copper pipe, and some hose adapter, the idea is to put the wort chiller in the keg and run cold water into the coil, the thermal exchange should cool the wort quickly.
The trick to sanitize the wort chiller is to put it in the wort 5 to 10 mn before the end, so the boiling will kill every bacteria, but I always put it in a sanitize solution before doing that.
When the wort is around 75 F, you can pitch the yeast, and stir gently, you can now poor the beer from the kettle into a fermentation bucket. Some people add oxygen into the beer with an air pump, the yeast like that.
During the fermentation, the yeast will eat the sugar (from the malt and the one you add) and will generate ethanol and CO2. You need to let the CO2 escape otherwise your bucket will explode. The yeast will start to react in the next 24 hours, and you should see a lot of bubbles coming out from the airlock. The reason we put an airlock is to keep all bacteria away from the beer, with an airlock the CO2 can get out of the bucket but the water in the airlock keep air from going inside the bucket.
Remember also that you will have to keep the fermentation bucket in a certain temperature depending of the type of beer you are making.
After a week, depending of the type of beer you are making, you will have to transfer to an other bucket, the purpose of that is to clean the beer from all the particles in suspension who drop down to the bottom of the first bucket. You use a syphon for the transfer, you need to keep your beer away from oxygen, you know what oxygen do on the beer, it give a bad taste right? so when the transfer is over put the lead and an airlock on your fermentation bucket and keep it in 68 F for a minimum of 3 weeks.
After the fermentation process, you will be able to bottle your beer. Again you will have to clean all your bottle in a sanitize solution. Now we have a beer with some alcohol but no carbonation, so the idea when bottling is to add a little amount of sugar so we will have the desire carbonation, all depending of the kind of sugar you are using. Not enough sugar can result in a poor carbonation and too much sugar can result in bottle bomb! So the rule of thumb is 7 grammes of sugar for 1 Liter of beer.
You will have to transfer the beer again in a bottling bucket who have a spigot at the bottom, so you will be able to put the sugar in that bucket and transfer your beer into it. This process should keep away all the deposit at the bottom of your fermentation bucket. Use a syphon so there is a little amount of contact with oxygen. Generally I keep the beer for 15 mn and stir occasionally, so the sugar I added can dissolve in the beer uniformly.
Then fill your bottles of beer and cap them, put a label on it, and keep those bottle in a dark at room temperature, not in the fridge because the yeast will go to sleep and will not do his job which is CO2 and alcohol, yes there is still some yeast in the bottle!
Wait, wait, wait, it is the hardest thing to do, I know you want to try the beer. For some strong dark Belgian beer you will need to wait at least 2 month after bottling. And it will taste better after longer time, but I have the same problem I can not resist.
After those really hard and long 2 month you are ready to try your first brew! Put the beer to chill in the fridge for 48 Hours, and then open it and I am sure you will say this is awesome, that is a really good beer, better than the one you will find in store. Better because you made it!