How To Brew

Let’s Brew Some Beer!

 

This page has information regarding both extract brewing and all grain brewing.  The first section covers the process for extract brewing and the second, for all grain brewing.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us any time at learntobrewmoore@gmail.com

 


 

 

Extract Brewing w/ Grains

 

In this section you will find tips and techniques for brewing beer using malt extract and steeping grains.  If you are new to home brewing or want to expand your understanding of brewing we recommend that you watch our full length DVD More Than Just the Basics available at www.learntobrew.com.  This will give you an interactive visual aid to the process of brewing and get you started brewing award-winning beer.

 

Equipment

 

The equipment for brewing can be found in our equipment kits on our website at www.learntobrew.com.  These kits will include all the equipment needed for fermenting 5 gallons of beer.    The only item you will need to add to the equipment kits is a kettle for boiling that will hold at least 4 gallons of water as you will boil three gallons.  Most often, our customers already have a stainless steel kettle of this size.  If you need a kettle, however, we recommend the 5 or 7.5-gallon stainless steel kettles for any beginner. 

 

Ingredients

 

The basic ingredients for extract brewing include either dry malt extract or liquid malt extract.  The extract is the source for fermentable sugars that have been derived from malted barley.  These sugars will be converted by the yeast into carbon dioxide and alcohol. 

 

You will also typically find some specialty grains that you will use to steep in hot water to add flavor to the beer.  Specialty grains range from light malt grains, crystal or caramelized grains and dark roasted grains.

 

Hops provide the bitterness taste and citrus, floral and spicy aromas to beer. In order to extracts these flavors we will need to boil the hops.

 

The water used for brewing must be drinkable and taste good to you. Water makes up 95% of beer.  If you have off flavors in the water, then they will show up in your final beers. The brewing water also needs to be free from contamination and have a sufficient amount of metal ions present. For example Calcium and Magnesium. Distilled water does not contain any of these metal ions and therefore does not make a good brewing water.  Brewing water is the water that we will add to our brew kettle.

 

We recommend that you start brewing using any of our extract brew kits that come complete with all the ingredients for a five gallon batch of beer.  You can find these kits at www.learntobrew.com

 

Cleaning and Sanitation

 

Everything needs to be cleaned and sanitized that will come contact with the cooled wort.  An Iodophor solution contains iodine and phosphoric acid. One benefit of iodophor is that it is a no rinse solution. Remove your equipment from the bath and allow the equipment to drip dry. A fifteen-minute soak of your carboys, racking hoses, rubber stoppers, air locks and funnel in an iodophor solution is sufficient.  I also recommended that you add some of the iodophor solution to a spray bottle for later use. 

 

Milling the Grain

 

Mill the malted barley to reduce the size of the malt and expose the starch inside the kernel.  The milled grain will be placed in a steeping bag during the steeping process.

 

Steeping the Grain

 

Start off by bring 1.5 – 2 gallons of water to 165 degrees in your brew kettle.  Once you have reached 165 degrees, add the milled grain to the steeping bag and submerge the bag in the heated water.  This the steeping process and can be thought of as a process similar to making hot tea.  You will want to steep the grain for 20 – 30 minutes maintaining a temperature between 150 – 165 degrees.  If you are using a large amount of light grain, the aim for 150 – 155 degrees.  If you are using a large amount of caramel or dark grains, then aim for 155 – 165 degrees. 

 

When the steep time is over, remove the bag from the steep and gently pour  approximately 1 gallon of water over the and through the grain to rinse out any sugars that may still be in the grain.  Be sure not to rinse out the husks with the grain as the husks contain particles that will cause off flavors in the beer if heated over 180 degrees.

When you are finished rinsing the grain, bring the water up to three gallons.

 

Boiling

 

Bring the water up to a boil.  When a rolling boil is reached, turn off the heat source and gently add and stir in the malt extract to the kettle.  Start the boil again once the extract has been added.  A boil of 1 hour is recommend.

 

Hop Additions

 

During the boil you will add 1 or more hop additions.  Hops provide two chemicals brewers are most interested in.  These two are hop resins and hop oils.  The resins are the acids that will rearrange during a vigorous boil to a bitter compound named iso-alpha acids.  The hop oils are volatile compounds and provide the citrusy, spicey, floral, or other hop aromas to the beer and because the oils are volatile, the oils will vaporize and leave the kettle if boiled to long.  The longer you boil the hops the more bitterness you will extract from the hop addition.  The shorter you boil the hops, the more aroma you extract out of the hops.   Bittering hops are usually boiled for 60 minutes, flavor and aroma hops are usually boiled for 0 to 30 minutes. 

 

Cooling

 

After the boil, it is important to quickly cool the hot wort (wort is unfermented beer) to 70 – 80 degrees F.  The quicker this is accomplished the less likely you will contaminate the wort or oxidize the wort.  Cooling can be accomplished using an immersion coil or an ice bath in the kitchen sink.  Remember to keep the lid on the kettle during cooling.   Carefully pour the cooled wort into your primary fermentation vessel.  Once the wort is in the vessel, add sterile water to the vessel until you reach five gallons.  Always use sterile water to true up the volume.  We recommend natural spring water that has been treated with micro filtration and UV light.  

 

Aeration and Sample

 

Next, take a sample of the wort and measure the specific gravity.  The gravity is a measurement of the density of the wort compared to the density of water.  This information is needed to track the fermentation and trouble shoot if you experience something out of the ordinary.  After the sample is taken, aerate the wort by shaking, stirring or by means of an aeration stone.  This will add oxygen to the wort, which is needed for a healthy yeast metabolism.  With the wort aerated, add your yeast to the wort, place an airlock on your vessel and move the vessel to a cool room about 65 – 75 degrees out of light. 

 

Fermentation

 

Primary fermentation will take 5-7 days for ales and 7-12 days for lagers.  After fermentation, siphon the beer into a secondary vessel for maturation and clarification over the next 7 – 20 days.  After the secondary maturation phase, you are ready to keg or bottle the beer.

 

That’s it, your now ready to begin mastering the art of beer making!

 

 

 

 


 

 

All Grain Brewing

 

Here you will find tips and techniques for brewing all grain beer.  If you are new to All Grain Brewing, we highly recommend that you start by watching our full length DVD Advanced All Grain Brewing by Learn To Brew available at www.learntobrew.com

This will give you an interactive visual aid to the process of all grain brewing and get you started of down the right track for brewing all grain. 

 

With all grain brewing you will have control over ever process of brewing and infinite possibilities.  Good luck!

 

Equipment

 

You will use many of the same items for all grain as you did for extract.  For boiling, you will need a propane burner used to fry a turkey. For the mashing process you need a device called a mash/lauter tun.  This device has a false bottom and is used to separate sweet wort from the grain.  These are easily made from a picnic cooler with our cooler conversion kit at www.learntobrew.com.

 

Ingredients

 

The malt is malted barley that has been partly crushed to expose the sugars inside the grain.  There are many types of malted barley available for brewing.  The malt recipe you will use consists mostly of a base grain that will provide the fermentable sugars and then specialty grain that will add more flavors and aromas.

 

Hops provide the bitterness taste and citrus, floral and spicy aromas to beer. In order to extracts these flavors we will need to boil the hops in our brew. Hops also provide some protection against staling and bacterial contamination, but this is very minimal and you must have a good focus on cleaning and sanitation.

 

The water used for brewing must be drinkable and taste good to you. Water makes up 95% of beer.  If you have off flavors in the water, then they will show up in your final beers. The brewing water also needs to be free from contamination and have a sufficient amount of metal ions present. For example Calcium and Magnesium. Distilled water does not contain any of these metal ions and therefore does not make a good brewing water.  Brewing water is the water that we will add to our brew kettle.

 

Cleaning and Sanitation

 

Everything needs to be cleaned and sanitized that will come contact with the cooled wort.  An Iodophor solution contains iodine and phosphoric acid. One benefit of iodophor is that it is a no rinse solution. Remove your equipment from the bath and allow the equipment to drip dry. A fifteen-minute soak of your carboys, racking hoses, rubber stoppers, air locks and funnel in an iodophor solution is sufficient.  I also recommended that you add some of the iodophor solution to a spray bottle for later use. 

 

Milling the Grain

 

Mill the malted barley to reduce the size of the malt and expose the starch inside the kernel.  Starch is a long chain sugar; we need this starch exposed so that these chains can be broken down to simple sugars during the mash process.  The yeast will later consume these simple sugars and turn them into CO2 and alcohol. The husks should remain fairly intact during milling because the husk will act as a filter medium during the separation phase in the mash/lauter tun.

 

Preparing the Strike Water

 

Strike water is the term given to the water you will mix with the milled grain.  This water is always warmer than the target mash temperature from somewhere between 11 – 20 degrees Fahrenheit.   

 

The volume of strike water that you prepare is also important.  How much water you mix with the grain will affect the enzyme action in the mash.  A thick mash, one with little water, will result in a product inhibition; this is where there is too high of a concentration of enzymes.  When the mash is too thin, too much water, the enzymes will begin to denature and will limit the enzyme action in the mash.  There is a balance of where the mash thickness is optimal.  For home brewing this is approximately 1 gallon of water to every 2-3 lbs of malt. 

 

Mashing

 

Mashing is the process where the grist (milled grain) is mixed with the strike water so that enzymes present in the malt can convert the long chain starch molecules into fermentable sugars.  This is a biochemical reaction and depends on specified conditions like maintaining the proper temperature and water to grist ratio. 

 

Enzymes are temperature sensitive.  The temperature range for brewing is usually best set at 147 – 158.  This is known as the brewer’s window.  Temperatures in this range will give good enzyme activity within the mash.  The lower end of this range will yield a wort that is very fermentable but low on extract.  The high end of this range will give a wort that is very high in extract but somewhat lower in fermentability. 

 

The enzymes in the mash take time to attack the starch.  Conversion will be incomplete in less than 30 minutes.  It is recommended that you mash for at least one hour to one hour and a half for a fermentable wort. 

 

The acidity of the wort must be in the right range for the enzymes to work best.  This range is around 5.2 – 5.4 pH.  For buffer to hold the pH in the proper ranger see our product call 5.2 pH Stabilizer at www.learntobrew.com

 

When the mash is finished, it is time to recirculate the wort to help clarify it and set the grain bed.  To do this, draw off some wort form the picnic cooler valve, collect it in a bucket, and return it to the mash by gently pouring the wort over the top of the mash.  Repeat this for 10 – 20 minutes.

 

Run-off (Lautering – Separation)

 

You should understand that the bottom of the lauter tun, or where the holes are dilled in the pipes in the picnic cooler are not the actual filter itself.  Instead, the husks will bridge over the holes and are used as the filter medium.

 

You should draw off the wort slowly.  Drawing off the sweet wort too fast will increase the pressure on the bottom of the grain bed and most likely cause a stuck mash where you won’t be able to collect much wort at all.   Patience is a virtue when it come to separation.  The entire run-off should take some where between 1 – 2 hours.

 

It is important to watch the level of the wort above the grain bed as you are lautering.  You will want to maintain about 0.5 - 2 inches of liquid above the bed.  Once the liquid level drops below this height, you need to add sparge water to the grain bed to maintain the level.

 

Your sparge water needs to be approximately 170 degrees.  It is important that you do not exceed 180 degrees because sparge water above 180 degrees will extract the tannins in the malt and your beer will very bitter.  You want to slowly, gently, and evenly add the sparge water above the grain bed.  The easiest way to do this is to collect a little water in a pitcher or large measuring glass and gently pour the sparge over the grain bed.

 

Boiling

 

Once the target volume of sweet wort has been collected, it is time to begin the boil. Boil for 1.5 hours.  The fist half hour is used to boil off volatile chemicals and stabilize the wort.  After the first thirty minutes of the boil, add the first hop addition and continue boiling and brewing just as you did with extract brewing. 

 

After the boil, chill the wort to yeast pitching temperatures and ferment just as you did with an extract brew.