Homebrewing How-to: A Rundown

Here is the basic rundown for an extract + steeped grain recipe. Come in to Barley’s for a detailed instruction guide. A common batch of beer is 23 Liters (that’s about 65 standard sized bottles) and will usually cost about $35 to $50 (That’s only ~$0.60/bottle on average!)

  1. Purchase your equipment. At Barley’s, you’ll find a starter kit with everything you need to get brewing.
  2. Choose a recipe that sounds good. We’ll help you gather the ingredients. You’ll need malt extract, some specialty grains, hops and yeast. You might need some other ingredients, depending on what the recipe calls for. Coriander or bitter orange peel, for example, are quite common in certain beer styles. (Yes, you can find those at Barley’s too!)
  3. Once you’re at home with everything you need, get a large stockpot (19 L stainless steel stock pots are available at Barley’s), fill it about halfway full with water and turn on the heat. We’ll call this your brewpot from now on.
  4. In a separate pot, you can steep your grains in hot water. This will make a nice grain tea that you can add to your brewpot
  5. Add malt extract to your brewpot, stir it up and boil. Congratulations! You have wort!Barley's Homebrewing Supplies
  6. Now it’s time to add your bittering hops. They’ll be in there the entire time it boils.
  7. Depending on your recipe, you might need to add hops throughout the boil. The longer the hops are in the boil, the more bitterness you extract from them but you’ll also boil off much of the hop aromas and flavours. Some recipes require that you add hops late in the boil for flavour and at the end for aroma. The wort will usually need to boil for 60 minutes.
  8. After the boil, you’ll need to cool the wort before transferring it to a sanitized primary fermenter.
  9. Add yeast, seal, wait for five days to a week. Inside the fermenter, there will be a yeast party going on. They bring the alcohol.
  10. Once that yeast party has slowed down, transfer the beer (BEER!) to a secondary fermenter using your sanitary skills and let it settle/condition for about 2 weeks. This is an important step as it allows the yeast to clean up after itself. Undesirable flavours that the yeast produces initially actually get reabsorbed by the yeast before it settles out. When in doubt, give it time.
  11. Ready to bottle. Hope you’ve been saving them! Keep it sanitary. You’ll be adding dextrose or some other bottling sugar during this stage to give that yeast a little extra food. This will allow it to naturally carbonate your beer.Barley's Homebrewing Supplies
  12. After 2 weeks of sitting in the bottle that beer is fizzy and ready to drink. After a few more weeks go by, that beer gets even better. It’s really something you have to taste for yourself!

So if you’ve been keeping track, only about 5 weeks have passed since you got your supplies at Barley’s to the point that you’re drinking your own homebrew. And with 23 Liters of it, you might even be able to share some with your friends. Warning: Friends might begin to worship your new brewing powers.

15 thoughts on “Homebrewing How-to: A Rundown

  1. Glad to welcome you to the Neighbourhood. A buddy and myself live in the San Marino and can’t wait to get started. See you soon.
    Colin

    1. Thanks Colin! But where’s San Marino? California? That’s a long way from British Columbia! I’m still glad I could get you pumped about homebrewing!

  2. Okay Barley, As my friend noted above we are seriously looking forward to some beer making… but the key to our beer freedom is locked in your response to two simple questions. Two questions both our wives are very eager to hear the answer to:

    Does home brew stink up an apartment? Or only at the point of creating the wort?

    and

    b) have you in your experience heard of many bottles (glass or plastic) exploding during the brewing process? (ie while in the waiting period while in a dark cool place)

    I apologize that we don’t just pop down, but I think (and I am sure Colin would agree) written answers that we can point to on the internet serve as a huge plank in our beer brewing argument.

    Thanks in advance

    Scott

    1. Hi Scott,

      Your concerns are common.

      If you like the smell of malt and hops, which, if you like beer, I assume you do, then you’ll love the smell of brewing beer. For me, it’s as simple as that. When it comes to fermentation, ale yeast gives of very little odor. Lager yeast, on the other hand, tends to smell a bit sulphury. And fermenting wine gives off more odor than either but still not enough, in my opinion, to dissuade me from fermenting it.

      I have never had any bottles explode. More often than not, when people talk about “bottle bombs” it’s because an over-carbonated beer will “explode” with foam when it’s opened. Still unpleasant but hardly dangerous. This can be avoided by taking the necessary precautions:
      1) Make sure fermentation is complete before bottling. This is done by taking a hydrometer reading.
      2) Add the proper amount of priming sugar and make sure the priming sugar is completely dissolved and evenly distributed throughout your beer before bottling.

      But the only way to truly put the concerns of your skeptical wives at rest is to share your delicious home-brewed beer with them. It’s a fun hobby. Yes there are things that can go wrong if you get sloppy but the rewards are definitely worth it!

  3. A response to “does brewing beer smell” ? when I brew it is always outdoors, however I have done so indoors with my range fan on full blast. The smell you create cooking on the stove is no big deal and goes away quickly. The fermenting process in my opinion is a different beast. Instead of using air locks on my carboys I use “blow off” hoses that I route from my fermenters to my window and into a carboy half filled with water, This acts like an airlock does. All those undesirable smells head out the window. If you dont have the option to place a carboy outdoors you can run a 1/4 hose from a “double bubble” airlock and out the window. In my place you would never know there was a number of high gravity brews happening in my office. As an added bonus, if you are brewing a high gravity brew and experience an aggressive fermentation where as you have air locks blow off, Using a hose offers less restriction and directs to excess foam outdoors. There is nothing worse than having to explain what that white smelly,foamy goo is doing on the floor to your better half. 🙂

    1. It’s unusual to see dextrose included in a recipe these days but not unheard of. Most recipes will use 100% malt extract but sometimes dextrose/other sugars will be used to lighten the body and or increase the alcohol content. You might find dextrose (corn sugar) or rice sugar in a light American lager. Other sugars are often found in Belgian styles. One thing we do use dextrose for, however, is for bottle priming. The dextrose is easily fermented, producing CO2 and carbonating our beer in the bottle.

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