HOMEBREWING Geoffrey C. Davis

Basic homebrew kit. Essential equipment needed to start the hobby. Also needed is at least a three gallon brew pot. Most home brewers will eventually upgrade or add components in order to add capacity or use advanced brewing techniques.
Standard homebrew ingredients. All that is needed to make beer is water, malt, yeast, and hops. Most home brewers make beer from malt extract, available in syrup and dried. Some will transition to "all grain" brewing, where they start with sacks of whole grain malt.
The ingredients are mixed and boiled. Hops, which are available in whole/leaf or pellets, are added at various times to add bitterness, aroma, and flavor. The concoction is now called "wort".
Once cooled, the wort is transferred to a fermenter and yeast is added. An air lock prevents oxidation while allowing carbon dioxide produced by the fermentation process to escape. Beer yeast is available in liquid and dry forms and in dozens of different strains, each of which will impart a different flavor and alcohol profile.
Fuller-bodied beers can benefit from spending time in a "secondary" fermenter. This allows the flavors to mellow and fermentation to finish. Fermented beer can be kept in a glass fermenter like this one (called a carboy), for a long time prior to bottling, when stored in a cool, dark space.
Fermenters come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are made of plastic, glass, or metal. This "wide mouth" version allows for the addition of "dry hops", a technique to add extra hops flavor and aroma. It is also easier to clean.
Priming sugar, usually corn sugar, is added to the fermented beer, which is then transferred to bottles. Having a helper makes this step go a lot quicker.
Anything that will touch the beer needs to be clean and sanitized.
Brand new, sanitized bottle caps will crown each bottle.
The caps are crimped on the bottles, forming an air-tight seal. When the residual yeast in suspension ferments the added priming sugar, the resulting carbon dioxide will be trapped and eventually carbonate the beer. Shown is a double-level capper, included with most homebrew equipment kits.
For higher-volume bottling, a bench capper will speed up the process.
For those who don't want to mess with caps, swing-top bottles are a great alternative.
Once capped, the beer needs to sit quietly for a couple weeks to develop carbonation.
Good beers don't wear caps for very long!
To avoid bottling at all, some home brewers opt to keg. Soda kegs are perfect for home brewing! This allows for natural carbonating with priming sugar, or "force carbonating" with pressurized CO2. Force carbonating can produce desired carbonation levels in hours rather than weeks.
A few of the author's recent projects. A standard homebrew batch is five gallons, about two and a half cases. Bottling some in larger bottles reduces the total number of bottles.

Yeast can be the single largest recurring cost in home brewing. Many brewers harvest yeast from one batch to use in the next.

Harvested yeast can be stored in mason jars in the refrigerator.

Some beers are so special, they are treated as precious. This is a two year old Bourbon Barrel Porter, poured in celebration of a return to home brewing from a one year hiatus.

Adding a "blow off" hose will keep smaller fermenters from exploding. It will also produce "cleaner" beers.

The alcohol content can be determined by comparing the "Specific Gravity" of the wort and the fully fermented beer.

Created By
Geoffrey Davis


Created with images by mrbill - "Homebrew Kit" • ilovebutter - "Ingredients" • marissa - "bottling2" • Phil Aaronson - "Home Brew Bottling Day!" • taubinphoto - "Caps" • purdman1 - "Bottle sealing" • seanmasn - "untitled image" • Digital-Designs - "Home Brew" • taubinphoto - "Full Bottles" • BruceTurner - "honey, i need to borrow the refrigerator" • AJ Gulyas - "Washing yeast from homebrew batches for future use. Enough here for 4 batches of Belgian ale--will save me about $30 for an hour's work." • DoodleMatt - "Blow-off tube" • ilovebutter - "Measuring the original gravity (OG)" All other photos were taken by Geoffrey Davis

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