How to Start Making Beer at Home

Brewing beer at home isn’t as tricky as it sounds. Plenty of beer enthusiasts have tried their hand at creating bathtub liquor with varying degrees of success, although we wouldn’t recommend actually sticking beer in the washroom – it’s unsanitary. To start your brewing journey, you’ll need a few tools, cleaning practices, and ingredients found in your cupboard. 

Necessary Equipment for Home Breweries 

You can’t just make beer straight away, so find the following supplies to get started.

  • Basics: Fermenting airlock, funnel, brewing kettle, sanitizer, stir spoon, auto-siphon.
  • Beer Making Kit Ingredients: malt, yeast, water.
  • For Fresh Yeast: Heating pot, mash tuns, a sparge arm.
  • For Cooling: Wort chiller.
  • For Storage: Beer bottles, jugs, tubing, caps, capper, filter, corks, spouts, kegs.

If you don’t want to clean your brewing equipment in your sink, you may want to buy a cleaning or sanitized tote that can rinse your items. Be sure to replace your filters regularly.

4 Steps to Making th Best Liquor, Beer, or Spirits 

After finishing your beer, you may want to put your product in a keg and run it through a tap system. Depending on what you’re looking for, your beer tap costs may vary from $100-$1000.

Step 1: Sanitize the Area

All consumable products or items that touch the mixture should be sanitized. Use soap and water on all surfaces, utensils, and buckets to ensure your beer’s flavor isn’t affected.

Step 2: Prepare the Starter Wort (Dry Ingredients)

Yeast is necessary for the beer-making process because it eats the sugars in the malt, creating alcohol. For every 2 quarts of water, add 6 ounces of dry malt and a small packet of yeast. Before adding the yeast, bring the water to a boil, then cool it to 60°F. Finally, cover the container (with either a pot lid or aluminum foil), set it aside, and wait for the wort to do its job. 

Step 2.5: Make a Mash (Fresh Ingredients)

In brewing, a “mash” is a malt and water mixture. If you prefer to make fresh malt instead of using a dry alternative, you’ll need mash tuns and a sparge arm. This article goes more in-depth, but most mashes are made with 1 part grain and 1 part water. Mashing takes about an hour and will turn black if you add a drop of iodine to the mixture if the process was successful. 

To drain the mash, you’ll need to prep a strainer by layering the colander with rice hulls, or you can use a lauter tun to extract the wort. Now, you can extract the runoff liquor.

Step 2.5: Capture the First Runnings (Fresh Ingredients or Dry Ingredients)

The “first runnings” are the runoff liquor you drain from the brew pot. Whether you use fresh or dry ingredients, you need to heat the runoff at approximately 180°F over the grain present in the lauter tun. Capture the second runnings while draining the second time to complete the wort.

Step 2.5: Cool the Wart (Fresh Ingredients or Dry Ingredients)

Cooling needs to occur as soon as possible since this period is when the beer is most vulnerable to outside bacteria and microorganisms. As mentioned, your beer needs to be chilled at 60°F (room temperature). Either use a wort chiller or dip the pot in ice water. Don’t put ice directly into the pot. Once cooled, the beer can start to ferment over the next week.

Step 3: Ferment

Fermenting is a hands-off process, but you’ll need to secure your beer to keep it from spilling. Ensure your beer isn’t wholly covered to let carbon dioxide escape. After a week, you can transfer most beers into another container for consumption, but some beers take longer.

Step 4: Bottling

After 1-2 weeks, you can complete the final part of the fermenting process. Add corn sugar to water and let it boil for 15-30 minutes, then cool the water and add it to the bottling bucket. This mixture keeps the yeast busy while you transfer the beer into kegs, bottles, or jugs (it also makes the mixture bubble!). After bottling your beer, leave it out for 2-3 weeks or until the mixture becomes carbonated. Refrigerate the beer (don’t put it in the freezer) until cold.

Congratulations! You just made your first mixture at your home brewery!