Your Homebrewing Guide
Whether you’re simply a suds fan or want to be a craft beer baron, making your own brew has never been easier.And since this drinkable art was recently legalized in all 50 states, there’s no better time to give it a go. Your beer adventure starts here.
Buy a Kit
You’ll need special homebrewing equipment, like a hydrometer and airlock. The best way to start is to buy a beginner’s ale kit, which has everything you need for your first try, including your ingredients.
Clean & Sanitize
The No. 1 reason your homebrew will go bust (read: smell like diaper)is dust, specks of dirt or other particles (like naturally occurring yeast) infiltrated your batch or bottles. So: you need to wash and rinse all your equipment like crazy and you sanitize anything that will come into contact with the beer after boiling.
This may elicit a “duh,” but before firing up the brew kettle to make your wort, read through the entire recipe and have all your ingredients measured and at the ready. Scrambling to add stuff increases the risk of contamination and can lead to overboiling—a one-way ticket to terrible beer. Trust us.
Shock & Stir
You need to cool your wort in a hurry (shocking it) before you can add yeast. So prep an ice water bath in your sink as your pot boils. Once cooled, pour the wort into a fermentation bucket. Stir vigorously to aerate it, add the yeast and stir it again.
Once the yeast is added, seal the fermenter and put an airlock into the lid so carbon dioxide can escape as the yeast works its magic and converts the fermentable sugars into alcohol. It should rest, undisturbed, for 7–10 days, then transfer it to a glass carboy for another week or so.
Add Suds, Bottle, Shelve & Sip
Before bottling, you need to add fermentable sugar so the yeast can create carbon dioxide. After bottling, shelve at room temperature in a dark place. (Light is beer’s biggest enemy.) After a couple of weeks it’ll be carbonated and ready to pour.
Like custom-crush facilities for winemaking, DIY beer-making outfits are popping up across the country. Here’s where you can go to batch your own brew.
California: Brew Bakers, Huntington Beach
Oregon: You Brew & Pub, Portland
Colorado: Do Your Brew, Westminster
Minnesota: Vine Park Brewing, St. Paul
Florida: Longneck Brew House, Stuart
New York: Bitter & Esters, Brooklyn
Connecticut: Cork & Brew, Southington
Pennsylvania: Copper Kettle, Pittsburgh
By the numbers:
136 podcasts devoted to beer
325% increase in American Homebrewers Association since 2005
409 openings of new American breweries and brewpubs in 2012
(Clockwise from left to right: Jim Koch, Ken Grossman, Sam Calagione, Tomme Arthur)
The No. 1 rule to making beer: Use The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, by Charlie Papazian, President of the Brewers Association. It has step-by-step guides and provides the simple-to-understand science and reasoning behind the processes. Originally published in 1984, several craft beer biggies credit the book for helping them launch their empires.
You Could Be Next
These founding brewers all began in their kitchens armed with Papazian’s book, a dream and a thirst for really, really good beer. Here’s a few of their brewing tricks.
Jim Koch, Samuel Adams
“Brew what you want to brew and the passion will come through. When i first began, I knew the ingredients I wanted were harder to find, but I didn’t want to skimp.”
Ken Grossman, Founder, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
“Get your hands dirty, but keep your equipment clean.”
Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head
“Don’t be afraid to jump from extract brewing to partial-grain brewing. This involves a bag of crushed barley that you steep like tea before you boil.”
Tomme Arthur, The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing
“Treat your yeasts like they are your favorite child (not the red-headed stepchild), and your beers will be awesome.”
- 1Get Brewing
- 2Brewing Minus the Mess
- 3Your Homebrewing Bible