For some time now, I have wanted to present you a “how to brew at home” article. Being a huge fan of beer, it has always appeal me to do my own beer. It will come soon enough…now that I know how !
Let me present you my good friend Dominick Scott. Dom is a bio-chemist (and maybe soon Doctor ?) passionate by beer since I know him. He has been brewing his own beer for quite some time now and it is one of the best, if not the best, home brewed beer I have ever tasted ! Even in comparaison of big brewers, his recipes are quite good ! And they don’t even give a hangover like cheap alcohol can do 🙂
For any questions addressed to Dom, don’t hesitate to write to me and I will redirect : firstname.lastname@example.org
Beware, this is a long read, but it will be very useful !!!
Your first home-brew
In this first article, we will explain the basic steps of home-brewing without entering in the complex biochemistry beyond brewing. We want to keep this article as simple as possible and give you the resources to brew with an all-grain recipe. It is not in this article that you will understand how to create the best beer in the world, but at the end, you will be able to brew a good beer with limited equipment. All you need is:
- Mash tun
- Large kettle or pot
- Carboy Cap
- Spoon (18”)
- Sanitizer (e.g. Star Stan)
- Soap (e.g. PBW)
Home-brewing is easier than you think, it only requires five steps. The first step is the mashing where you will extract the soluble elements in the beer. Then, you can collect your wort and transfer it for the second step, the boiling. Finally, you need to cool your wort before you add the yeast. Then the last step is to transfer your beer into your clean bottle. Let’s take a deeper look at each step.
The mash is the first step you will do. During the mash you mix the hot water and the malt into your mash-tun. It is during this step that the starch, proteins and other macromolecules will be extracted from the grain. The starch will also be digest by the enzyme in the grain to make simple sugar. Numerous factors can impact your final product during your mash, but the two most important are the temperature and the pH. The pH of your wort should be between 5.0 and 5.5 for a good extraction.
After this step you have a sweet liquid, the wort.
The mashing methods
There is three different methods that are mostly used for the mash. The easiest is the infusion where you add hot water and keep it at the same temperature during the whole process. It is this type of mash that we will use in the recipe below. You keep the same temperature for around one hour. The next step is the sparge, which will allow to extract as much macromolecules as possible.
The second type is the step mash where you will extract the macromolecules at different temperature. You also have to add a protein rest where you allow a more efficient digestion of the macromolecules by the enzyme. In most recipe in an home-brew context, using this more complicated technique is not useful.
Finally, the last type is the decoction which looks like the the step mash. The malt is soaked into hot water, the wort is then boiled and return into the grain. This cycle is repeated several time (e.g. three time for a triple decoction mash)
Now that you finally have your wort, the next step is to boil it. You must boil your wort for numerous reasons. First of all, it is to eliminate any bacteria and other living organism of the beer. If no boil is done, you will probably have an infection in the beer, and if you have an infection, it will be gross!
The boil is also very important for the flavor of the beer. Numerous chemical reactions happen during the boiling of the wort but the most important is the isomerisation of alpha acid. Alpha acids are found in the hops and when they are isomerized, they produce the bitterness of the beer. So the bitterness of the beer will depend of the amount, the variety of hops and the boiling time. Iso-alpha-acids are also bacteriostat that prevent the growth of the gram positive bacteria.
At this point, you still have the wort, but with the bitterness of the hops and a little bit of the aroma of the hops.
Next you need to cool down your wort to allow the yeast to survive. There is a lot of methods to cool your wort. The easiest and cheapest is the immersion chiller but it is not the fastest to cool your wort. It consists of a copper tube in which cold water is circulating. The counterflow chiller is my favorite type, because it is easy to build, relatively cheap and really efficient compared to the immersion chiller. It is a copper tube in which your wort is circulating and around this tube, there is another one filled with cold water. Depending on the speed your wort is circulating, you can control the temperature at the end of the tube. The last type is a plate chiller which is the fastest, but also the most expensive. It is a great type of chiller, but the price is high for a beginner brewer.
Your wort is now chill, it is time to make beer!
From sugar to beer
It is almost the end of your work. Now you need to pitch some yeast into your wort. Each variety of yeast have their own propriety and will give different results. All you have to do is keep the temperature in the range that is indicated on the company site and the yeast will do all the work. To thrive, the yeast will eat the sugar and produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. With standard yeast you will let the yeast work for 3-4 weeks. You can use two different carboy for the fermentation. This will allow you to throw away the dead yeasts and their waste. This is optional and it add a step where a contamination could happen.
To the bottle
It’s almost the end…I promise ! You now need to add a little bit of priming sugar to your beer, this website is perfect to calculate the amount of sugar for the beer style. Adding sugar will add food for the yeasts and they will be able to produce CO2 to make the bubbles. And for the grand finale, one last step : bottle it, cap it, and wait two weeks before drinking 🙂
Time to brew!
|Pilsen Malt 2-row||4,5 kg|
|Crystal Malt 60L||1,0 kg|
|Vienna Malt||500 g|
|Northern Brewer||20 g||90 min|
|Golding||14 g||30 min|
|Coriander||1,479 mL (1/3 tsp)||Last 15 min of the boil|
|Orange peel||1,479 mL (1/3 tsp)||Primary|
Wyeast French Saison
- Add 4.5 kg Briess – Pilsen Malt, 500 g Vienna Malt, to the mash tun.
- Bring 12.421 L water to 78.426 C (173,1668 F), 16.668 L water to 81,709 C (179,0762 F) for upcoming infusions.
- Add 12,421 L water at 78.426 C to mash to bring it to 66.667 C (152.0006 F). Hold for 1.25 hr.
- Add 16,668 L water at 81.709 C to mash to bring it to 74.000 C (165.2 F). Hold for 15 min.
- Bring the wort to a boil and hold for 1,000 hr.
- Put 2o g Northern Brewer into boil for 1.5 hr.
- Boil or steep 1 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L .
- Put 14g Golding into boil for 30 min.
- Put 1,479 g Coriander Seeds into boil for 5 min.
- Stop boiling the wort.
- Add water to have a final volume in the primary of 23 L.
- Cool wort and pitch Wyeast French Saison Ale yeast, to the primary.
- Put 1,479 mL Sweet Orange Peel into primary for 3 days.
- Let ferment until FG is 1,010 sg.
- Transfer beer to secondary.
- Add 107,6 g of dextrose as priming sugar.
- Bottle your beer.