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Brewing Your Own Beer

brew beerBeer brewing isn’t as difficult as you might think. With the right equipment and clean, filtered water, anyone can make their own ales at home.

Home brewing kits are the easiest way to start making your own suds, but the layout’s a bit expensive. If you want to try your hand at brewing without making a large financial commitment, you can find plenty of beer recipes online for five gallons worth of beer, all of which follow the same general process.

To brew, you need the right ingredients. Here’s a list of items you’ll need before you start the fermentation process:

  • Grains specific to your recipe
  • Grain bag
  • Large pot capable of holding three gallons without boiling over
  • Malt extract
  • Kitchen thermometer
  • Glass carboy
  • Strainer
  • Brewers’ yeast
  • Sugar
  • Bottling bucket with spigot
  • Three feet of ¾” plastic tubing
  • Bottle filler tube
  • Bottles
  • Bottle capper

Step One: Clean Everything
Beer brewing relies on clean, sanitized equipment. Most brewing problems can be avoided simply by ensuring everything is as clean as possible. Wash and rinse all equipment using hot filtered water. You can also use a powdered brewery cleanser. Don’t scrub however—scrubbing leaves small scratches that harbor bacteria and other pathogens.

Water and Grains—the Source of All Beer
Great beer starts with great water—pure, filtered, and soft. So important is water quality to brewing the folks at Guinness refer to their water as liquor. A Pelican whole house filter or countertop filter will provide cleaner, purer water for use in home brewing.

Add your grains to a grain bag, and immerse them in three gallons of hot, filtered water (150 Fahrenheit). Let the grains steep for thirty minutes. Remove the grain bag, and allow excess moisture to drip back into the pot. Resist the urge to squeeze liquid out of the bag. You’ll release astringent tannins that affect the beer’s flavor.

Bring the liquid to a boil and add your malt extract. Adding the malt early in the boil gives beer added bitterness, while adding it at the end of the boil brings out more flavor. Congratulations! You just made wort.

You need to chill the wort as quickly as possible. Placing the entire pot in a sink filled with ice water helps. If the sink’s too small, use the bathtub. You can encourage cooling by gently stirring the wort, but this requires a light touch. Splashing aerates the wort and affects flavor.

When the wort reaches 80 Fahrenheit, or room temperature, you can add it to your fermenter, usually a glass carboy. Use a strainer to remove hops as you pour the wort into the carboy. Top up the carboy with enough water to make five gallons, and add the amount of brewer’s yeast specified in your recipe.

Stopper the carboy, and store in a dark location at room temperature (unless you’re making lager, in which case the carboy must be refrigerated). Leave it alone for two weeks while the wort ferments.

After two weeks, boil sugar in a small amount of water and let cool. Add the sugar solution to an empty bottling bucket with a spigot. Use the plastic tubing to siphon beer from the carboy to the bucket, avoiding excess aeration and trying not to siphon any sediment.

Attach a clean bottle filler to the spigot, and push the bottle filler to the bottom of the bottle. Fill the bottle until it just barely overflows. When you remove the bottle filler it leaves enough airspace in the bottle. Use you bottle capper to cap the bottle and repeat until you run out of beer.

Leave your bottles to age for a couple of weeks at room temperature, and then refrigerate. When pouring, leave a little beer in the bottom of the bottle to avoid adding any remaining sediment to the glass.

Good luck, and happy brewing!

Pelican Combo System Salt-Free Water Softener Whole-House Water Filter