Instructions for the beginner
Follow these instructions for brewing a standard 5 gallon batch of beer or ale from a malt extract kit instead of the instructions that come with the kit.
First of all, you will need 5 gallons of water. Any bottled drinking water will be more than adequate. However if you have access to a drinking water vending machine such as an Aqua Vend Machine, this offers a less expensive alternative to bottled water. The author has had great success with such water. Chlorinated tap water is not acceptable as the chlorine will kill the yeast. Water from a Reverse Osmosis system is not recommended either as it is lacking in minerals important to the flavor of your beer. You can use R.O. water if you replace the minerals that it is lacking. Burton Water Salts, Gypsum, and Epsom Salts can be used for this purpose. If you have an artesian well you may want to try a batch (not your first batch) using this water. However, if you have a high iron content or other minerals in high concentrate present in your well water, this can also have an ill effect on your finished beer or ale.
. Cleanliness is perhaps the most important aspect of the brewing process in producing a quality batch of beer. Wash the brewing equipment by using ordinary dish soap and a sponge or towel, and rinse with tap water. Next fill the sink with hot water and prepare a sterilizing rinse made from 1 oz of chlorine bleach to each gallon of water in the sink. Then submerge and sterilize your equipment. Also sponge down any counter tops the brew equipment will come in contact with. Do not rinse off the equipment with tap water, just let it air dry. Then put your can of malt extract and your can opener into your hot rinse, remove the label from the can and let sit until ready for use. The hotter the water the softer your extract will become, which makes it easier to get every drop from the can. There are other commercially available disinfectants available such as B-Brite and Iodophor, but these will only cost more than bleach and bleach is all you really need
Put 4 gallons of your water into the primary fermenter and the rest into your brew pot. Turn on the heat and bring water to a boil. Add 1 tsp. of non-iodized salt. The iodine in regular table salt will kill or inhibit the growth of your brewing yeast so it is very important to use salt of a non-iodized variety. Morton's makes non-iodized salt, but if this is not available, both Kosher salt and sea salt are suitable for home brewing.
Add 1 packet of Knox unflavored gelatin or if you prefer 1 tsp. of Irish Moss. Either of these ingredients will cause the dissolved proteins in the malt extract to coagulate during the boil and settle out when the wort cools. Personally, I prefer to use Irish Moss.
Literally all kit beers will require you to add malt or other fermentable adjuncts to boost alcohol and/or "stretch" your malt. If you bothered to read the instructions that were included with your kit, you have discovered it calls to add dextrose (corn sugar) in almost ridiculous amounts. Corn sugar will work as a malt stretcher if your largest concern is making a cheap beer, I recommend against it. The addition of DME (dry malt extract) is your best bet although it is more expensive. Each pound of DME added will produce 1% alcohol by volume in a five gallon batch. Anyway now is the time to add your DME.
Remove your brewpot from the heat after the water boils, open your can of malt extract and empty contents into pot while stirring. Return to heat only after malt is fully dissolved. A common mistake is to scorch the bottom of the pot so bring back to boiling slowly. Another problem that could occur is a boil over so have a boiling stone or some ice cubes handy just in case things get out of hand. Best to go slowly and avoid the mess. Some brewers boil with the open can in the wort just to get every bit of extract out. If you aren't going to use any hops, boil the wort for twenty-five minutes and skip the next two paragraphs. If you are going to use hops then one of the next two paragraphs will apply to you
If your kit was pre-hopped you can still add 1 oz. of finishing hops (leaf or whole hops) for aroma in a boiling bag after boiling the wort for twenty minutes. Continue boiling for another five minutes keeping hops submerged in the wort with your spoon or paddle. If the hops are boiled for more than five minutes the aromatic oils will evaporate and the alpha acids will begin to bitter the wort. This would defeat the purpose of using a finishing hop for aroma
If your kit was unhopped, you'll want to add 1 to 2 oz. of bittering hops (I recommend pelletized hops although whole hops can also be used) as soon as the wort is maintaining a steady boil. Boil for an additional 30 minutes to extract the full flavor from the hops. At the end of this boil, finish with 1 oz. of whole hops for aroma as outlined in the previous paragraph.
After the boil, you'll need to force cool the wort. This is the time your beer is most apt to be contaminated by micro organisms, so the faster you can bring the temperature from boiling down to 80 - 85 degrees F. (yeast pitching temperature) the better off you will be. There are two methods readily available to the home brewer. You can force cool the brew pot by immersing it in a sink full of ice and stirring the wort until steam ceases to rise from it. Or if you can afford it, a commercially available wort chiller can be purchased. This method is highly recommended. Once steam has stopped rising, pour the wort into your plastic fermenter already containing four gallons of water. Stir the contents to equalize the temperature of your future beer. Now is the time to take temperature and hydrometer readings. You will have to correct the specific gravity (SG) for temperature to determine the original gravity (OG) of your brew. There is a temperature correction chart included in this booklet. You can pitch the yeast when the temperature is 90 degrees or less. Some brewers prefer to make a yeast starter solution prior to pitching, but you can pitch yeast by simply stirring it into your beer. If you are going to use yeast energizer, now is the time to add this also.
Next, close the fermenter lid tightly, insert airlock in lid and fill airlock halfway with water. Record all information relating to your brew re: type and quantities used of all ingredients, date and OG in your notebook
Now it's time for patience. The yeast can take up to 48 hours to start working visibly. If you take your stopper out of the fermenter lid, you can safely peek at your brew. After a couple of days you should see your beer krausening (bubbles and foam on top, and yeast stuck to the fermenter walls above the liquid level). Leave your brew in the primary for 1 week unless you are only using a single step fermentation. In this case let your beer sit in the primary for 10 days
After a week, it's time to rack (siphon) your brew over to the secondary fermenter (5 gallon glass carboy). Remove your spring bottling tip from your siphon set up for this procedure. Set your primary up on a table, bench or other raised surface since you are going to rely on gravity for the transfer of your beer. Sterilize your carboy and racking tube (siphon setup) and you are ready to roll. You are going to want to leave most of the trub (sediment) behind when you transfer your beer to the carboy, so your cane shaped tube should have a tip on the straight end to keep the tube off of the bottom of the primary. Insert this end into your primary and start a siphon over to the secondary which should be on the floor or at least considerably lower than the primary. Rack all of the brew over to the secondary and top off with water if needed to only leave an inch or two of air space in the neck of the carboy. Insert your stopper and airlock into the carboy and fill halfway with water as you did before. Now we wait again. Let your brew ferment for another week in the secondary. Some brewers will put their hydrometers right into the secondary as to monitor the progress of their fermentations. If you don't want to do this you will need to pull a sample from the carboy for testing purposes (with clean equipment only!). When the hydrometer reading hasn't changed for three days, record the terminal gravity (TG) in your notebook, it's time to bottle.
You will need approximately 54 twelve ounce bottles to accommodate 5 gallons of beer. You can buy these new, accumulate them, or if you know someone with a bar or liquor store you can probably buy them for the cost of his/her deposit. The bottles will need to be cleaned and sterilized before use. If you are using used bottles, make sure that they are free of any sediment garbage, cigarette butts, or mold before you sterilize them. You can utilize the same method of sterilization you used to prepare your other brewing equipment. However, if you have a dishwasher with a high heat drying cycle this is a much less labor intensive method of preparing your bottles. Simply run your dishwasher through a normal cycle, but add a cup of bleach before the last rinse.
After the bottles have been sterilized, you'll need to prime your beer or ale for bottle conditioning, this is where the bubbles come from. I recommend batch priming as it is much more consistent than bottle priming. Other equipment needed for this procedure will be your primary fermenter (doubling as a priming bucket at this point), your racking tube setup with spring tip, your spoon or paddle, bottle caps and 3/4 to 1 cup of corn sugar. Make sure that all of your equipment is clean before you start. Next put your corn sugar into the priming bucket. It is very important that you add the beer to the sugar and not the other way around. If you were to add the sugar to the beer it would foam over and make a serious mess. After the dextrose (corn sugar) is in the bucket you can rack your beer into the bucket with your racking tube minus the bottle filler spring tip. After all the brew is in the priming bucket, you'll want to stir well enough to ensure the sugar is dissolved and in solution, however you want to stir in as little air as possible
Now it's time to fill the bottles. Place your priming bucket high and your bottles low (that old gravity thing again). Replace the spring tip on the straight end of your racking tube, remove your other tip and start your siphon. You can now fill the bottles by inserting the tube end into the bottle and pushing the spring tip down until the bottle is just about to overflow, when you lift the spring tip off of the bottom of the bottle the flow will stop, and when you lift the tube out of the bottle your beer level will be about 1 1/2 inches from the top, perfect! Cap your bottle and repeat and repeat and repeat. Actually I usually will fill a six pack and then cap a six pack.
Now it's time to wait again. Your bottled beer will be fully carbonated in 2 to 3 weeks. Nobody ever waits this long though. After 4 or 5 days it will be carbonated enough to taste and enjoy. You should bottle age your beer or ale at room temperature and cool a day or two before consuming. The shelf life of your beer should be about six months. However the higher gravity (stronger) beers may last longer.
Congratulations, you've made your first batch of beer! I'm sure you'll enjoy it. When you are ready to go to the next level consult your home brewing professional for suggestions or recipes.
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