If you’re at the very start of your home-brewing journey and need some extra guidance before you start brewing, you’re in the right place! In this beginner’s guide, we’ll give you a rundown of all the equipment and ingredients you’ll need to brew beer successfully and where to source them from. This guide also explains the basic brewing process, and directs you to some easy-to-follow recipes so you can make your favourite style of beer from the comfort of your own home!
Sourcing a DIY brewing kit is a must before you make your first beer. Without the correct equipment, creating a high-quality, delicious final product will be difficult. Luckily, DIY beer kits are quite easy to come by, both online and at specialty brewing stores. You can also put together your own kit with materials you’ve sourced yourself.
- What You’ll Need:
- Large saucepan or brewing kettle
- Fermenting vessel with a lid and air lock
- Spoon for stirring
- Measuring flask or hydrometer
- Bottles and caps
THE BASIC INGREDIENTS
Most beers, both home-brewed and commercial, are made using the same basic ingredients. You can source all of these ingredients from specialty brewing supply stores and online marketplaces. Take a trip to supply stores in your local area for your first few attempts at brewing – the many ingredient varieties can be overwhelming, especially for a beginner, and a supply store will be able to help you pick out varieties that suit your needs.
1. Grain or Malt
The first essential ingredient in any good beer is grain or malt. The grains are combined with water to create wort, a sugar syrup that forms the base of your beer. The variety and colour of the grains you choose will affect the taste and appearance of your finished product – a black malt will produce a darker brew with a stronger, more intense flavour than a light-coloured grain. We recommend doing your own research before purchasing grains for your first brew to ensure you choose one with your desired flavour profile.
Another crucial component of any home-brewed beer is yeast. Yeast is a tiny, single-cell organism that, as well as being a rising agent for bread and other baked goods, is a key part of the beer fermentation process. The yeast in beer converts the sugars found naturally in the grain or malt into alcohol and carbon dioxide, creating the familiar, fermented flavour that beer drinkers love. There are hundreds of different strains of yeast, and many of these are appropriate for brewing. The type of yeast you use in your brew will dramatically change its flavour and aroma. The yeast you use also determines the style of your beer – whether you end up with an ale, lager, stout, or other style of beer depends on the type of yeast you use.
A typical craft beer will contain hops. Hops are small, green flowers used to balance the flavour of a beer, and to help preserve it naturally. There are over 100 varieties of hops, and the quantity used and stage of the brewing process that it is added affect the bitterness, flavour and scent of the final brew.
4. Optional Extras
While grains, yeast and hops are the essential ingredients, many brewers choose to add additional ingredients to add flavour and change the texture of their beverage. For example, brewers making fruit beer add fruit in either its natural form or as a syrup or extract.
THE BREWING PROCESS
Brewing your own beer requires time, precision, knowledge, and a whole lot of patience. The brewing process has four stages:
- Combining the grain or malt with water to create a thick mixture called mash;
- Boiling the mash in a brew kettle or large saucepan, turning the mash into wort;
- Fermenting the wort by adding yeast and setting aside; and
- Conditioning the beer, either naturally in bottles or by force carbonation, to add carbon dioxide.
The first two steps are standard procedure for the vast majority of beer recipes, but the third and fourth steps change depending on the style of beer you are brewing, the extra flavours you wish to add, and your own preferred conditioning method. Each beer recipe calls for a different fermentation time, with some requiring only two weeks, and others calling for longer, depending on the type and quantity of yeast you use.
If you’re ready to brew your very first beer, you’ll first need to find a recipe that suits your preferred tastes and beer style. Read through this list by Home Brew Talk for some beginner-friendly amber ale, dry stout, hefeweizen, and Berliner Weisse recipes. Check out these recipes from VinePair if wheat ale or porter and stout are more up your alley. There are plenty of great resources out there, so if none of these suit your tastes, keep searching and we’re sure you’ll find a recipe that’s perfect for you!
Remember, don’t be discouraged if your first batch doesn’t work out. Beer brewing is an art that takes practice, and with some time, experience, and plenty of trial and error, you’ll be a pro in no time!
If you’d like to learn more about brewing your own beer or other brewed drinks, be sure to check out Careerline Courses’ online Making Wine, Beer, Spirits and Fermented Drinks short course! Beer enthusiasts and kombucha addicts alike will learn all about home brewing their favourite drinks. Get in touch with our friendly team to find out more.
1. Making Wine, Beer, Spirits, and Fermented Drinks: Whether you’re a beer lover or kombucha enthusiast, you’ll love learning how to brew your favourite beverages at home with this short online course! Over 20 hours of self-guided study, you’ll learn all about the history of alcohol, the science of brewing and fermentation, and brewing methods for wine, beer, cider, spirits, and other non-alcoholic fermented drinks. This course is designed for beginner homebrewers, as well as anyone with an interest in brewing their own alcohol.
2. Self Sufficiency II: This online Self Sufficiency course will teach you how to grow, harvest, and preserve your own nutritious food. You will study the process of growing fruit, vegetables and herbs in your own climate, bottling, freezing and drying produce to extend their shelf life, and the principles of animal production for meat, eggs, and dairy. Anyone who would like to rely less on shop-bought produce for their food supply, start their own home garden or hobby farm, or learn more about the practice of self-sufficiency will benefit from this course.
3. Human Nutrition A: If you’re passionate about healthy eating, Careerline’s online Human Nutrition A course is designed for you! Fitness professionals, nutritionists, chefs, and food enthusiasts alike will all benefit from the knowledge gained from this course. While studying Human Nutrition A, you will learn about her roles of different food types and food groups in maintaining human health, as well as the recommended amounts of different vitamins, minerals, and major food groups in a healthy diet. You will also study the digestive system and process, as well as learn symptoms of common nutrient deficiencies and disorders.