Malt, Hops, Water, Yeast...the building blocks of beer
In the Brewhouse, people look on at "the magic"...note our Brew Kettle
Malt, Hops, Water, Yeast...the building blocks of beer
Hopfen und Malz - Gott erhalt's
Hops and Malt - God's Gift
We're all about learning through doing. As we find new things, we'll post them here.
This page is continually updating...check back for updates.
Afraid to brew beer at home? Did it before and it was a disaster? Don't think you have enough space?
Homebrewing is as complicated as you want to make it. We keep it simple, so anyone can do it....we promise. After all, it's just beer!
Enjoy our homebrewing page. Want a private lesson? small class? brewhouse tour? Check out our experiences!
Homebrewing Myths...We've Busted!
I need to buy a lot of fancy, expensive equipment: NO
You should be able to get your first homebrewing kit for about $180 and that includes a $40 recipe kit (ingredients + instructions) and all the necessary equipment. And all the brewing equipment can be used again and again for subsequent batches. It pays for itself in about 3 batches.
I need a lot of space (because I need tons of gear): NO
If you have a counter area that will support a "Homer bucket" you are good to go...so about 2x2 feet. (Please do not use a "Homer bucket!")
I need to understand a lot of fancy "beer-speak": NO
Impress your friends with your great beer, not with your Scrabble scores. If you know how to heat, boil, stir, pour...you have the basics. Read this page and we will give you a few more, but nothing too fancy.
I need to know chemistry: NO
People have been making beer for centuries under some questionable conditions. You need to understand sanitation and some basic concepts. With these your beer will be just fine.
What if I do something wrong? No one will die!
The worst you get a funky tasting beer (aka "skunk beer"), from bacteria or mold that were introduced during fermentation due to sanitation issues. It may look/taste bad, but it is the same mold that grows on old bread and some are actually strains of penicillin. Trendy Sour Beer is "skunked" beer.
I'll get in trouble with Alcoholic Beverage Control! NO (unless you break one of 3 simple rules)
ABC is not really concerned with the small-batch hobbyist homebrewer who is following the rules.
It is when the homebrewer stops following the rules, that ABC gets concerned.
- Do not make more than 200 gallons/yr - Do not sell or distribute - Do not give it to anyone <21
See our ABC section for all the fine print, legislation, and details.
If you can read a recipe,
boil water, and tell time,
you can make good beer.
If you have patience,
you can make great beer.
The first ABCs
Key Concepts You Need to Know to Brew
Homebrewing really has just 4 primary steps: prepare, brew, ferment, and bottle/keg. Each step has a few basic rules, with the most complicated being in prepare.
Quick note: Sometimes brew is also called boil, just to confuse things.
It is under prepare where you have the greatest number of decisions to make that will affect the final beer. They fall under method/approach and ingredients.
You will need to make 3 simple decisions at the very start. How you want to brew will help make these decisions.
So long as you end up with about 6.5 gallons of properly chilled wort (pre-fermentation beer), you're ok.
How am I getting my sugars?
Yeast needs sugar to make alcohol (aka fermentation). The source of sugar in beer is the malt/wheat/grain. Sugar is "washed" off the grain and captured in a solution.
All-Grain vs Extract
In "All-Grain" brewing, sugar comes only from the grain (hence the name), whereas with "Extract" brewing, you add essentially "grain molasses" (aka Extract) to get the required sugars.
Both "All-Grain" and "Extract" start with adding malt to water and heating it. "All-Grain" then forces that water through pumps to cycle it back over the grain many times. Whereas, "Extract" does not cycle the water back over the grain, instead you add an Extract to the grain solution.
More grain, more time, more equipment?
Less grain, less time, less equipment, need an Extract?
No right or wrong answer. Entirely about your choice. Either way, in the end, you get beer.
How much grain am I using?
Sugar comes from the malt so amount of grain is determined by source of sugar and amount of sugar required.
Partial-Mash vs Full-Mash
"All-Grain" vs "Extract" essentially determines Partial vs Full-Mash.
"All-Grain" requires Full-Mash
"Extracts" are generally Partial-Mash
some recipes want more grain (a "partial full-mash").
How much water am I cool?
Yeast needs sugar in solution and it needs to be at the correct temperature to ferment vs. die. How much water do you want to cool down at the end of the boil period.
Partial-Boil vs Full-Boil
This decision has to do with the amount of "grain water" (aka wort) you bring to the boiling point and thereby the amount of wort you need to cool down before you can add the yeast. "Full-Boil" you bring 7 gallons to sustained boil and cool, whereas with "Partial-Boil" you boil 3-4 gallons and then add more cold water during the cooling down process. This is sort of like making soup from concentrate.
You will need to make 3 simple decisions at the very start. The beer you want to make will help make these decisions.
Note: Changing or substituting any of the ingredients below will change the final beer you produce. In fact, the largely American IPA craze is really around changing the hops used in brewing.
Don't be afraid to experiment with these ingredients. You can start with a base recipe and then substitute something. Keep a record so if you like it, you can do it again.
Do you know which of these 4 basic beer ingredients is not mentioned in the Bavarian Beer Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) of 1516?
Yep, it's Yeast, since yeast was not realized as a fermentation agent until 1857 by Louis Pasteur. Prior to that, fermentation was considered magic or a divine act.