Friday, June 25, 2010

Hydrometer Use When Brewing Beer

I was lucky enough that when I purchased my first beer brewing kit that it came with a basic hydrometer. I knew nothing about hydrometers but it seemed to me that it was a device that was used for measuring alcohol.

I guess  I was partly right. A hydrometer measures the density or specific gravity of a liquid. The first beer kit that I used had asked you to obtain the original gravity and final gravity. My hydrometer showed a gravity setting, balling, and potential alcohol. To be honest with you I've never used the balling setting and I only occasionally look at the potential alcohol reading to get an idea if I'm course when I'm brewing my latest beer. Hmmmmm..... about 4 more weeks and my American Cream Ale from Brewers Best will be ready for summer drinking.

Ok.. you simply sanitize the hydrometer and the tube which holds the beer that you will be testing from and you are ready to go. Once I brewed my beer and was adding it to the plastic bucket (or carboy) I filled the tube up about 3/4's of the way and spun the hydrometer inside of the tube. I carefully took a measurement (let some foam dissipate) and had my original gravity. Then along the way after all fermentation was done and just before bottling, I took another hydrometer reading and wrote down my final gravity.

Here is the formula that I use to determine alcohol by volume (ABV).

Original Gravity - Final Gravity * 131.25 = Alcohol By Volume

Friday, June 11, 2010

How To Brew Beer

I know there are plenty of folks who would like to learn how to brew beer so I'll do a very quick walkthru according to how I make my own homemade beer.

Truth be known, if you are making your very first beer, I would go about it the easy way. Go out to your local home brew store and pick up a homebrew beer kit. I'm not trying to sell you on anything but it will make your beer brewing experience that much better and if you continue making your own beer years down the line, you can use the same equipment that you buy today. I do, as I brewed beer today (an American Cream Ale from Brewers Best) with my original homebrew beer kit. If you don't have a local home brew store, you can find them online at Amazon.

Here are the items that I use when I brew beer:
5 gallons of drinking water
A beer kit (includes malt, dried malt extract, sugar ie corn sugar and priming sugar, hops, possibly beer caps, and directions).
5 gallon stainless steel pot (do not use aluminum... I bought my pot at Target)
Plastic bucket - Drilled and grommeted lid (6 gallons)
Airlock (goes on top of plastic bucket which has a small hole in it)
Carboy (or another bucket)
Rubber grommet with a hole in it for the airlock when placing in the carboy.
Auto siphon
Beer bottle capper
Candy Thermometer
Glass beer bottles (about 60 should be good). Make sure to get non-screw type and I like brown bottles
Caps for bottles
Stirring spoon (I use plastic. I recommend stainless steel)
Cleaning agent (C-Brite, B-Brite, or worse comes to worse... bleach)
Bottle brush

Read all of the following through before attempting to make your first homemade beer.

How To Brew Beer

Start by sanitizing all of the equipment (with either C-Brite, B-Brite, or bleach) that will be used in the brewing process. This includes the carboy or plastic bucket, airlock, 5 gallon brewing pot, hydrometer, candy thermometer, and stirring spoon.

Follow the directions on the brew kit. If you don't mind, follow me as I go through the brew that I did today. It is an American Cream Ale from Brewers Best.
  • I put 2.5 gallons of drinking water in my 5 gallon stainless steel pot and worked on getting it to a rolling boil. While waiting for the water to boil, I put the LME (liquid malt extract) in a bowl and added very warm water. When adding the malt extract in the next step, by having it slightly warm, it pours easily. Oh yeah, having the lid on the pot helps to get it to the boiling point quicker and you don't lose as much water in evaporation.
  • At that point I added the malt extract. The malt extract is stirred thoroughly (don't let it collect at the bottom of the pot) and reached to a rolling boil. You now have wort.
  • The bittering hops are added. Again, get the wort to a boil. Make sure you do not go over the top of the pot. I continually adjust the heat to make sure the wort is boiling but there is no chance of it ever going over the top of the pot. Everything in the pot is boiled for 40 minutes.
  • I now add the corn sugar and DME (dry malt extract). It is thoroughly stirred and boiled for 5 minutes.
  • Finally the aroma hops are added and everything is boiled for 10 minutes.
Ok. Now comes the fun part. We have to take our concoction off the heat and get it cooled as quickly as possible. If you've been reading my previous posts you may have read about a wort chiller. No need to buy one for your first home made brew unless you don't mind spending the money. So, you can use either a sink or bathtub and load it full of about 10 lbs. of ice and the rest water. Put your wort (in the pan) in the sink or bathtub to get it cooled to 70-75 degrees as quick as you can. Make sure to use your candy thermometer to monitor the temperature.

Once the temperature reaches about 75 degrees, I moved the wort from the stainless steel bucket to the plastic bucket (the one with the small hole in the top for the airlock). Now it is time to pitch the yeast. Yes, just sprinkle the yeast on top of the wort and then thoroughly stir it into the wort.

Last step. Fill the airlock half full of water and push the airlock into the hole in the plastic bucket. Move the
bucket to a dark cool that is between 64 to 72 degrees. Make sure your wort is no where near fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting causes beer (or wort) to go bad. I use the plastic bucket in this instance but some folks use the carboy. Its just a personal preference. For me, its much easier to pour the wort into a plastic bucket versus a carboy with an opening of about 2 inches diameter.

Within about 24 hours you should start to see bubbles within the airlock. These bubbles usually start at intervals about a couple of minutes apart and can get to the point where you will constantly see bubbles. It really depends on the beer. As an aside, if brewing a belgian tripel, I recommend a tube going to a bucket filled water rather than using the airlock. In that case I also start fermentation in the carboy rather than the bucket. Belgian tripel's are known to have about 9% alcohol and are violent in their bubbling.

After 4-6 days the bubbling should subside. You'll notice that where at one point bubbling was going on every second or two.. well now it is ever few seconds and then ever minute and then every couple of minutes. At this time you should make sure your bottles are sanitized. Once the bubbling has stopped for two straight days, we will begin the bottling process.

Get two cups of water boiling in a small saucepan. Add the priming sugar and boil for 5 minutes. Now siphon that priming sugar into the bottling bucket. Make sure to stir the priming sugar into the bucket very easily. Do not stir hard as this will aerate the beer and we don't want to do that. Yes, I called it beer. Once it ferments (even before adding the priming sugar) it has changed from wort to beer. Of course I wouldn't drink it at this point although from time to time I do take a sip before bottling the beer.

Now we are going to take out our auto siphon and grab our sanitized bottles. I put the wand from the auto siphon about 2 inches from the bottom of the bucket so I pick up as little sediment as possible when moving the beer from the plastic bucket into the bottles. You will have to prime the auto siphon and then you will notice the beer start to flow. Move from one bottle directly to the next and fill to about an inch and a half from the top of the bottle. Once I've filled 24 bottles I grab the bottle capper and caps and proceed to put the caps on the bottles. Then I quickly go auto siphon my next case of bottles. I've brewed 41-42 bottles at one time and 52 bottles the next time. Depends on how much water you lose when boiling, the amount of ingredients that came with the beer kit, and how much sediment you want to leave on the bottom of the plastic bucket when auto siphoning from the plastic bucket to the bottles. I try to move as little sediment into the bottles (no one wants to drink sludge and it clouds up the beer as well) and when I've tipped the bucket to the side and gotten as much good beer out as possible, I stop... and then go cap the rest of the beers.

As you progress with you homebrewing, you will start to do a double fermentation process where you will move your wort/beer from one bucket to another bucket, or the carboy to the bucket or vice versa so that you reduce the amount of sediment in the final transfer to your bottles.

Put your bottles in a place with no fluorescent light and at about 64-72 degrees for 2 weeks.

After 2 weeks, your beer will have carbonated and its time to drink your beer!!!

If you've enjoyed my personal guide on how to brew beer and I highly recommend that you continue your brewing beer education with the following book. If you want to learn how to brew beer from an experts point of view but talking in layman's terms, I cannot give enough praise for this book.

and if books aren't your thing,  this video series well teach you how to brew beer

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wort Chiller

Over the next week or so, I'm going to talk about a few items that may help your homebrewing endeavors either in time, precision, or sanitation. In no particular order, the first such item is the wort chiller. Simply put, a wort chiller does exactly that, as it chills down wort (your brew after being boiled but before it is beer). The idea is that the wort needs to be chilled quickly, otherwise there is a chance that bacteria can enter your brew. Bacteria equals a bad tasting beer. Yeast cannot be added to the wort until it is chilled.

So, what does a wort chiller look like?

Immersion or Counterflow wort chiller?

An immersion wort chiller is dropped into the hot wort while cold water circulates through the copper tubing (usually hooked up to a garden hose). As that cold water continually moves through the copper tubing within the wort, the hot wort has no choice but to cool down. I've seen wort moved from 165 degrees to 75 degrees in a matter of 25 minutes.

A counterflow wort chiller works while hot wort goes through the inside of the copper tubing and at the same time cold water passes around the outside, thus the name counterflow. To picture this you should imagine about 25 feet of copper tubing inside of something that looks like a rubber/garden hose. Again, with hot wort running one way and cold water the other way, this device is very quick to cool off your wort. The negative is that the counterflow wort chiller becomes clogged easier and cleanup can be a chore.

Here is what I'm using:

This device wraps around your pot or keg and by continually running cold water through the copper tube, the volume area of the wort chiller helps to cool your wort rapidly. How well does it work? Well, let me put it this way. I brewed a beer this past winter (January in the Chicagoland area) and it was 5 degrees outside at about ten in the evening. We had a really nice snow only a couple of days earlier so my thought plan was to grab the wort while it was still in the pot, take it outside and wrap snow around the pot. 40 minutes later I went to check on the pot and to my absolute amazement, it was still hot. So I repacked the outside of the pot (my hands were numb) and left it out for another 30 minutes. It just started to cool down. Took about another half hour before I felt comfortable that it had gotten down to 75 degrees and I could add the yeast. Gheeeez.

Or you can work with a wort chiller. Prices range but my local shop has one for about $85. Basically there are two thoughts on wort chillers. Get one that wraps around your pot or keg or get an immersion wort chiller in which you place the device (of course completely sanitized) directly into the wort.

So, I talked above how it took 100 minutes to cool down my wort. 100 minutes of worrying that it will cool quickly enough to avoid bacteria. What is the alternative? Plop your pot in a sink full of ice water. Been there done that as well. How quickly will the wort cool down with a wort chiller? Well, it depends on how it is used (immersed directly into the wort or wrapped around the keg or pot) but 15 to 30 minutes is not unheard of.

With a little bit of work, you can have your own homemade wort chiller.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hybrid Microbrews

Cream ale/American lager/blonde ale
This blend produces a mild, pale, light bodied ale.
I will be brewing a beer starting this evening. I decided
to choose a light summer beer. Light compared to my prior
beers (a stronger red ale and a belgian tripel) but I believe
this American Cream Ale from Brewers Best hovers in around
5.5% or so ABV.

The hop bitterness in this style is normally very
low, with hip aroma often very slight or absent altogether.
Sometimes they are referred to as cream ales, yet they are crisp
and very refreshing.

As an aside, I had to upgrade to a larger 20 quart (5 gallon)
stainless steel pot for my brewing.

American wheat ale/American wheat lager
This type of beer can be made by using either lager
yeast or an ale. Brewed with 50 percent wheat,
the hop rates are higher and the carbonation is
lower than German styles of wheat beers.

At low levels, a fruity estery aroma and flavor
is normal, although clovelike characteristics
shouldn't be perceived. The color is normally
golden to light amber, with the body being light
to medium in character.

Fruit beers
These types of beers are made by using fruit as
an adjunct in the primary or secondary fermentation.
Fruit beers provide a very unique taste, and
they can also be quite potent if made in the right

Vegetable beers
These beers use vegetables as an adjunct in primary
or secondary fermentation, helping to provide an
obvious, yet harmonious quality. These beers
shouldn't be overpowered by hop character.

Herb and spice beers
Herb and spice beers use either herbs or spices
other than hops to create a very distinct taste
and character. The spices can be derived from roots,
seeds, fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

Hybrid microbrews offer you a break from the
ordinary beers, providing unique tastes and very
distinct character. There are many types of hybrid
microbrews available, all you have to do is look
around or experiment.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Microbrew Guide

Below, you will find a guide to a few microbrews.

Long Trail Brewery - Bridgewater, Vermont
This brewery offers several brews that will easily
quench your thirst. The long trail ale is a very
good choice, as it's very tasty and not too heavy,
just right. The hibernator is also good, although
it's winter seasonal and high in alcohol. With a
pinch of honey, the pollenator provides a thirst
quenching solution to a hot summer haze. Nice names, huh?

Catamount Brewery - White River Junction - Vermont
The best seller here is the Catamount amber, as it
is very tasty. The Catamount gold is also good,
as it is lighter than the amber and offers plenty
of refreshment on a hot day. For winter months,
the Catamount Christmas ale offers a crisp taste
for the cold.

An Amazing Microbrew Success Story

7 Barrel Brewery - New Hampshire
The 7 Barrel Brewery is a restaurant as well as a
brewery. The best brews here are the Dublin brown
ale and the red 7 ale, although you really can't
go wrong with any of their offerings. They also
offer live music every Friday night with many
great bands.

Vermont Pub - Burlington, Vermont
This pub is the sister brewery of the 7 Barrel
Brewery. They offer a great bar that serves two
rooms, with plenty of fresh and tasty beer. The
brown ale and dog bite bitter are the best, as they
are both very tasty.

Magic Hat Brewery - Burlington, Vermont
This brewery offers some of the best in the state
of Vermont - as well as the entire United States!
Their well known popular number 9 can be found on
taps around the state. When you visit, don't
forget to look under the cap, as they call it
"Magic Hat" for a reason!

Tomlinson Brewery just finished a belgian tripel.
Great taste for a strong beer. Paul is currently
working on an American Cream Als as of 07/08/10.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Home Brew Beer Bottles

I was asked what type of home brew beer bottles I use for my home personal home made beers. My first thought on this is a standard 12 ounce brown glass bottle. This is the kind that does not have a twist top. Of course these bottles must be sanitized and be absolutely clean before being used. I say that because my bottles are used over and over again. Oh yeah, we will need to buy new caps every time we are ready to bottle our beer. These caps are cheap enough and you'll have to throw the cap out (they cannot be used) as soon as you've opened your bottle.

I didn't always think this way. In fact, my father used to make his own beer and although I did not participate in the beer making with him, I was interested in the procedure. My dad reused Grolsch bottles. These were the kind that had a flip top that could be used over and over again. The only issue is that some of these bottles were green (more about that later) and after 20+ years, the seals on nearly half of the bottles were going out. Now don't get me wrong. I love these Grolsch bottles... the brown ones. Lucky enough, my local home brew supply store sells new flip tops for these Grolsch bottles.

I may show my ignorance here but when I think of beer coming out of green bottles, I think of a skunky taste. Some people will flat out tell me that I'm wrong and then we can get into an argument over whether a record or CD sounds better. The fact is that somewhere between shipping and when the green beer bottles land on your local  liquor store shelf, if a good amount of light hits these bottles, it can change the taste of the beer. So, in reality it is not the beer that is skunky but rather the green beer bottles (combined with light) which cause the beer to taste "off".

Ok. So you can find empty brown beer bottles (the non screw type) or brown Grolsch bottles usually at your local brew supply store. If you do not have a brew supply store nearby, you are going to have to suck it up, go buy some brown bottles (no screw type) and maybe invite some friends over so you will have empty bottles. And one other thing. You will need a bottle capper. A bottle capper will insure that you get a tight seal on your bottles. Ok.... thats it for now. Any questions?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Homebrew Kits

I'll take this article in a different direction. If you are familiar with the supplies necessary to make beer (as in a big pot, carboy, plastic bucket, blow off tube, siphon, and bottles), you want access to a variety of homebrew kits to choose from. I'm talking great tasting home made beer.

While some of the beer making kits will give you all of the necessary supplies and beer making ingredients for a cost of around $130+, you can buy the ingredients together in a kit for $35+. So what is your favorite type of beer? Is it an ale, pilsner, a lager, or perhaps you enjoy the smooth taste of a stout? We're just barely touching all of the possibilities out there.

Speaking of Ales, do you know that there is more than just one version? How about Belgian Ale, Bitter Ale, Brown Ale, Old Ale, India Pale Ale, and Scotch Ale just to name a few.

I live within 4 miles of a home brew supply store where we can purchase supplies, and beer and wine ingredient kits. I understand that most of the world is not that lucky. I recently picked up a Brewers Best American Cream Ale and its in secondary fermentation right now! Brewers Best has a great selection to choose from.

Traditional European Bock Homebrew Beer Ingredient Kit    Steam Beer Homebrew Beer Ingredient Kit   Scotch Ale Homebrew Beer Ingredient Kit

So how do you determine which beer kit you would like to purchase? What type of beer do you like to drink? Would you like something with a little more taste as compared to what you currently drink? My recommendation is to try a red pale ale for starters. You don't want to do what I did and quickly make your way to a belgian tripel. Whereas some beer kits will have you drinking your first beer in about 3 weeks, that belgian tripel took about 5 months before it tasted right.

So long as you already have the beer making supplies, homebrew kits are meant to give you everything you need in one box or tub. You'll have one or more of the following ingredients: Grain, barley, malt, hops, yeast, and priming sugar. If you are lucky enough to have a local brew supply store, sometimes they can help you pick individual ingredients so that when you have experience, you won't be restricted by the "beer kit". If you don't have a local store, you can find many premium kits online.

MR.BEER Premium Edition Beer Kit

Don't be afraid of the process. You will soon find out that homebrewing and use of the homebrew kits can be one of the most satisfying hobbies that you can get into. Start planning a party and invite your friends over for the 4th of July.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Beer Making Supplies

So you are out at your local beer establishment or pub and you try one of their in house beers. Usually you'll find that they have much better flavor than the standard beers that you may be used to without that watered down taste. With any luck they might have a sampler where you can try anything from an ale, a lager, a malt, belgian tripel, and on and on. Its amazing that sometimes you will find chocolate stouts that taste incredible and a pizza beer on the same beer menu. You think to yourself, I would love to be able to brew my own beer but I don't know where to start!

Some of us are lucky enough to have a local brew supply store and they can help guide you along the way. Pretty much what happens though, is that if you don't have a job at the store, you won't have the time for someone to sit there and hold your hand with all of your questions. Its amazing when you get into the home beer brewing hobby, the range of questions that will cross your mind. How many different types of hops there are? What brand of hops do I need when brewing a specific beer? What type of sugar do I need to use? How do I ferment the beer? What does ABV mean? How do I bottle? The questions can go on and on.

So, what beer making supplies do you need to begin brewing your first beer? Well, for me, I needed a large pot to boil the ingredients, a glass carboy, a plastic bucket with a lid that seals and yet allows CO2 to escape, a siphon, and 48 non screw top empty beer bottles. I can tell you that what I mentioned above is a good home brewing supply starting point.

What you will find in time is that some specialty brews require larger pots to handle all of the ingredients. You'll come to realize though time that some home brewed beers have a higher CO2 (carbon dioxide) level and may require a larger tube to let out the gas. If you do have a local brew supply store, you will not only be able to choose from a variety of beer kits but you should also be able to purchase either a beginners or advance home brewing supply kit. Of course some of us are not lucky enough to live within a few miles of such a store.

It sound complicated when you are a beginner but the truth of the matter is that home brewing is fun and the end result is something that you can be proud of and share with friends.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Home Of Microbrews

Everyone knows that if your looking for the best in
coffee, you go to Seattle. For wine, you go to
California. When it comes to the best in beer, you
go to Portland Oregon, where your never more than
15 minutes away from a quality brewpub.

The Williamette River in western Oregon has been
the center of hop growing and brewing since the
days of the pioneers. When the microbrew revolution
began, the history and the hops were already there,
along with the spring water, the grain, and the
fruit for summer beers. As a result, regional
brewers and microbrewers began to pop up all over
the place.

After that, it didn't take long at all for the
brewpubs to follow. These beers weren't just for
washing down food anymore. The hand crafted beers
could be used in cooking, just like wine. In
the brewpubs of Portland, the beer also forms a
base for salad dressing, spices up marinades, and
even helps to sweeten the desserts as well.

Many brewpubs will offer a sampler of the best
in beer tasting. You can think of it as wine tasting
without the snooty steward. You sip on small
amounts of a variety of brews to see what the
brewer can do, from the light and hoppy to the
dark yet sweet brews.

What to expect
1. Good head on the beer. Good head
ensures that you'll get a strong smell of the
brew, so be sure to pour it into your glass very
2. Always use a glass. You should always
use a clean glass, a very clean glass. In most
brewing establishments, the glasses are always hand
washed and air dried to ensure that there isn't a
speck of grease in the glass to deflate the head
and leave soapy looking bubbles behind.
3. The English are right. As the English
know, refrigerated beer is too cold to fully
appreciate the taste. In brewpubs, the beer is
served at temperatures that are cool but not that
cold. The iced and chilled glasses are saved for
4. Vocabulary. Beer has a mouth feel,
which describes the body of the brew - light,
medium, and full. The color can be misleading,
as even light bodied beers can be full bodied.

Anytime you are looking for the best in microbrews,
you can count on Oregon to deliver the best in
beer. There are hundreds of brewpubs here, with
everything you could ever want. Anytime you
are in the area, don't hesitate to stop off and
see why the microbrews here are easily among the
best in the United States - or the world for
that matter.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Is There A Beer Culture?

Social context
Many social traditions and activities are very
associated with drinking beer, such as playing cards,
darts, or other games. The consumption of beer in
isolation and excess may be associated with people
drinking away their troubles, while drinking in
excess with company may be associated with binge

Around the world
All over the world, beer is consumed. There are
several breweries in the Middle East countries as
well, such as Iraq and Syria. There is also
breweries in African countries and other remote
countries such as Mongolia as well.

Glassware serving
Getting an appropriate beer glass is considered
desirable by some drinkers. There are some drinkers
of beer that may sometimes drink out of the bottle
or can, while others may choose to pour their
beer into a glass. Drinking from a bottle picks
up aromas by the nose, so if a drinker wishes to
appreciate the aroma of a beer, the beer is first
poured into a mug, glass, or stein.

In my college hometown, there was a local pub
that kept mugs for its regulars on a hook behind
the bar.

Similar to wine, there is specialized styles of
glasses for some types of beer, with some breweries
producing glassware intended for their own styles
of beer.

The conditions for serving beer have a big influence
on a drinker's experiences. An important factor
when drinking is the temperature - as colder
temperatures will start to inhibit the chemical
senses of the tongue and throat, which will narrow
down the flavor profile of beer, allow certain
lagers to release their crispness. My father who
came from England, almost always drank his beer at
room temperature and in a pint glass.

The process of pouring will have an influence on
the presentation of beer. The flow rate from the
tap, titling of the glass, and position of the
pour into the glass will all affect the outcome,
such as the size and longevity of the head and the
turbulence of the bar as it begins to release the

The more heavily carbonated beers such as German
pilseners will need settling time before they are
served, although many of them are served with the
addition of the remaining yeast at the bottom to
add extra color and flavor.

Beer rating
The rating of beer is a craze that combines the
enjoyment of drinking beer with the hobby of
collecting it. Those that drink beer sometimes
tend to record their scores and comments on various
internet websites.

This is a worldwide activity, as people in the
United States will swap bottles of beer with those
living in New Zealand and Russia. The scores may
then be tallied together to create lists of the
most popular beers in each country as well as
those throughout the world.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Troubleshooting Home Brewing

Stuck fermentation
Stuck fermentation occurs when your beer fails to
ferment to completion. This can result from the
use of old yeast or poor ingredients. The best
way to take care of this problem, is to prevent
it from starting. To do this, you should:
1. Re-hydrate the yeast by adding it to
some water and adding wort to the yeast an hour
or more before you pitch. This will help ensure
that your yeast is still active.
2. Use an all malt or a recipe that has
a lot of it, as yeast needs nutrients to stay
alive. Corn and sugar lack these nutrients. If
your yeast still fails to survive, it cannot
reproduce. For this very reason, distilled water
shouldn't be used when making beer.

Under carbonation
If you've used the proper amount of priming sugar
and your beer is still flat, it's probably due
to the fact that you didn't properly rise the
sanitizing solution from the bottles. If too
much sanitizer is left in the bottles, it can
kill the yeast, which results in flat beer. The
only way to prevent this is to stop it from

Over carbonation
Over carbonation can cause your beer to turn into
a foam disaster. It can result from these causes:
1. Too much or uneven priming sugar. You
should measure your primer carefully and dissolve
it thoroughly in boiling water and allow it the
proper time to cool. Before bottling, make sure
to stir this into your beer.
2. Bottling your beer too early can also
result in too much carbonation.
3. Poor sanitization is also a cause. If
you allow your beer to come in contact with wild
yeast, it can result in over carbonation and
possibly even off flavors.
4. Bottles that are under filled can
also contribute to over carbonation. You should
allow 1/2 inch of head space to allow your
beer time to pressurize.

By taking the proper time to fix problems, you'll
ensure that your brew comes out great every
time you brew it. If you happen to run into a
problem, always take the time to rationalize it
before you rush into fixing it. If you rush into
fixing a problem, you may start another one.

From everything I've read, the biggest issue that
most homebrewers run into is sanitation, or lack thereof.
Meaning, do everything in your power to have your buckets
clean, your bottles clean, anything that touches the
wort clean, the brew pot clean, any utensils must be clean,
etc.... Otherwise you risk the possibility of your beer
turning out with an "off" or rancid taste.

You should expect problems, especially if this
is your first time brewing. Even for expert home
brewers, problems can occur from time to time -
which is something you'll learn to deal with.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Home Brewing Process

Brewing is the actual process of alcoholic beverages
and alcohol through fermentation. This method is
used with beer production, although the term can
also be used for other drinks as well. The term
brewing is also used to refer to any chemical
mixing process as well.

The process of brewing has a long history indeed,
which archeological evidence tells us that this
technique was actually used in ancient Egypt as
well. Many descriptions of various beer recipes
can be found in Sumerian writings, which are
some of the oldest writings of any type.

Even though the process of brewing is complex and
varies greatly, Below, you'll find the basic
stages relating to brewing.

1. Mashing - This is the first phase of brewing,
in which the malted grains are crushed and soaked
in warm water in order to create an extract of the
malt. The mash is then held at constant
temperature long enough for the enzymes to convert
starches into fermentable sugar.
2. Sparging - At this stage, water is
filtered through the mash to dissolve all of the
sugars. The darker, sugar heavy liquid is known
as the wort.
3. Boiling - The wort is boiled along
with any remaining ingredients to remove any excess
water and kill any type of microorganisms. The
hops, either whole or extract are added at some
point during this stage.
4. Fermentation - The yeast is now added
and the beer is left to ferment. After it has
fermented, the beer may be allowed to ferment again,
which will allow further settling of the yeast and
other particulate matter which may have been introduced
earlier in the process.
5. Packaging - At the final stage, the
beer will contain alcohol, but not too much carbon
dioxide. The brewer will have a few options to
increase the levels of carbon dioxide. The most
common approach is force carbonation, via the direct
addition of CO2 gas to the keg or bottle. I'm not a
big fan of this. I normally let my home brews gain
CO2 by simply sitting in the bottles for a minimum
of three weeks.

After it has been brewed, the beer in normally a
finished product. At this point, the beer is
kegged, casked, bottled, or canned. Beers that
are unfiltered may be stored for further fermentation
in conditioning tanks, casks, or bottles to allow
smoothing of harsh alcohol or heavy hops.

There are some beer enthusiasts that consider a
long conditioning period attractive for various
strong beers such as Barley and wines. Depending on
the beer enthusiast and what he likes to drink,
it will vary.

Home Brew Supplies

So you are out at your local beer establishment or pub and you try one of their in house beers. Usually you'll find that they have much better flavor than the standard beers that you may be used to without having that watered down taste. With any luck they might have a sampler where you can try anything from an ale, a lager, a malt, belgian tripel, and on and on. Its amazing that sometimes you will find chocolate stouts that taste incredible and a pizza beer on the same beer menu. You think to yourself, I would love to be able to brew my own beer but I don't know where to start!

Some of us are lucky enough to have a local brew supply store and they can help guide you along the way. Pretty much what happens though, is that if you don't have a job at the store, you won't have the time for someone to sit there and hold your hand with all of your questions. Its amazing when you get into the home beer brewing hobby, the range of questions that will cross your mind. How many different types of hops there are? What brand of hops do I need when brewing a specific beer? What type of sugar do I need to use? How do I ferment the beer? What does ABV mean? How do I bottle? The questions can go on and on.

So, what home brew supplies do you need to begin making your first beer? Well, for me, I needed a large pot to boil the ingredients, a glass carboy, a plastic bucket with a lid that seals and yet allows CO2 to escape, a siphon, and 48 non screw top empty beer bottles. I can tell you that what I mentioned above is a good home brewing supply starting point.

What you will find in time is that some specialty brews require larger pots to handle all of the ingredients. You'll come to realize though time that some home brewed beers have a higher CO2 (carbon dioxide) level and may require a larger tube to let out the gas. If you do have a local brew supply store, you will not only be able to choose from a variety of beer kits but you should also be able to purchase either a beginners or advance home brewing supply kit. Of course some of us are not lucky enough to live within a few miles of such a store.

It sound complicated when you are a beginner but the truth of the matter is that if you have the right ingredients and home brew supplies, home brewing is fun and the end result is something that you can be proud of and share with friends.With any luck, you could be drinking your own home made beer in the next few weeks.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Process Of Home Brewing

The normal batch of homebrewed beer is five gallons
in volume, which is enough for 2 cases, or 48 12
ounce bottle of beer. However, take it from someone who
has brewed beer before. I don't like sediment in my beer
so I often end up with anywhere from about 41-43 beers or so...
give or take + or - 3.

The typical homebrewed beer is produced by boiling
water, malt extract and hops together in a large
kettle and then cooling the resulting wort and adding
yeast for fermenting. Experienced homebrewers will
make their own extract from crushed malt barley by
a more complicated process of mashing the grain in
boiling hot water.

With both cases, the wort is boiled for 15 min to
an hour, to help remove some impurities, dissolve
the character of the hops, then break down some of
the sugar. The wort is then cooled down to a
pitching temperature.

The cooled wort is then poured into the primary
fermenter in a manner of aggression, as to aerate
the wort. Sufficient oxygen is also necessary for
the yeast's growth stage. The yeast is then put
into the wort.

The primary fermentation will take place in a large
food bucket or carboy. Sometimes it is left open
but often stoppered with the carbon dioxide gas
that's produced by venting through a fermentation

The process of making microbrews takes a lot of
time indeed, although you can take the necessary
short cuts once you learn more about how the
process works. If this is your first time brewing,
you should always use common sense and know what
you are doing.

One of the best things about making your own
homebrews is the fact that you can experiment with
ingredients and brew your own creations. You can
brew almost anything, providing you have the right
type of equipment - which can easily be found.

Microbrew - Beer Ingredients

The main ingredients found in beer are water, malted
barley, hops, and yeast. There are other ingredients
such as flavoring, sugar, and other ingredients that
are commonly used. Starches are used as well, as
they convert in the mashing process to easily
fermentable sugars that will help to increase the
alcohol content of beer while adding body and flavor.

Seeing as how beer is mainly composed of water, the
source of water and its characteristics have a very
important effect on the character of the beer. A
lot of beer styles were influenced by the
characteristics of water in the region. Although
the effect of minerals in brewing water is complex,
hard water is more suited to dark styles, while
soft water is more suited to light styles. I
personally use distilled water in my brewing.

Among malts, barley is the most widely used due to
its high amylase content, and a digestive enzyme
that facilitates the breakdown of starch into
sugars. Depending on what can be cultivated locally,
other malts and unmalted grains can be used, such
as wheat, rice, oats, and rye.

Malt is obtained by soaking grain in water, allowing
it to germinate, then drying the germinated grain
in a kiln. By malting the grain, enzymes will
eventually convert the starches in the grain into
fermentable sugars.

Since the seventeenth century, hops have been
commonly used as a bittering agent in beer. Hops
help to contribute a bitterness that will balance
the sweetness of the malts. They also contribute
aromas which range from citrus to herbal.

Hops also provide an antibiotic effect that favors
the activity of brewer's yeast over the less
desirable microorganisms. The bitterness in beer
is normally measured on the International
Bitterness Units scale.

Yeast is a microorganism that's responsible for
fermentation. Specific strains of yeast are chosen
depending on the type of beer produced, as the
two main strains are ale yeast and lager yeast,
with other variations available as well.

Yeast helps to metabolise the sugars that are
extracted from the grains, and produces alcohol
and carbon dioxide as a result. Before the functions
of yeast were understood, all fermentations were
done using wild or airborne yeasts.

Clarifying agent
A lot of brewers prefer to add one or more
clarifying agents to beer that aren't required
to be published as ingredients. Examples include
Isinglas finings, which are obtained from swim
bladders of fish and Irish moss, which is a type
of red algae.

Since these ingredients can be obtained from animals,
those who are concerned with either the use or
consumption of animal products should obtain detailed
information from the brewer.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Microbrew Equipment

Before you can start brewing beer, you'll need to
have the right equipment. If this is your first
time brewing, you should start simple. Before
you begin, the first thing that you'll need is a
brewpot. Before you rush out and buy one, you
may already have one that will work just fine.
I'll tell you my experience. I found that by going
to my local home brew establishment, I was able
to buy a complete kit for about $120.

The pot should hold at least three gallons of
liquid. The next thing you'll need is a fermenter.
For the average five gallon batch, the fermenter
should hold six gallons or more, allowing space
for a foam that will form during the vigorous
process of fermentation.

For this stage, a glass carboy or food grade
plastic bucket is often used. You'll also need
an airlock for your fermenter to allow the C02
to escape while also keeping the air out. A
siphon hose is also needed to transfer beer from
the fermenter when it's ready, without having
to mix air into it.

A bottling bucket will also help to make the
process much easier. Bottling buckets are
similiar to fermenters, except the fact that they
have a spigot at the bottom that allows you to
fill the bottles directly, which makes the
entire process less messy and gets things done
much quicker. You'll also need a capper to
seal your bottles; as bottles and caps or even
a keg will be needed to store and serve your

If you look around, you may be able to find a
kit that will contain everything you need. You
can purchase kits on the internet, many of
which offer the top quality equipment you'll
need to brew. All you have to do is look around
the net, as there are many different web sites
that offer equipment for microbrews.

If you don't want to buy a kit, you can always
buy each piece of equipment seperately. This
tends to be a bit more expensive than buying
a kit, although you'll be able to pick each
piece of equipment yourself, without having to
take what's included in the kit.

Once you get all of the necessary equipment
together, you should know how to use it before
you get started. This way, you won't run into
any problems once you start brewing. The
equipment needed for brewing is easy to use, so
you shouldn't have any problems.

Brewing microbrews can be both fun and exciting,
especially when you start brewing your own
creations. You can drink the brew yourself,
or serve it to friends and family. Microbrews
are fun to drink and create - which makes having
the proper equipment all the more while.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Original Microbrews

Beer is almost as old as civilization itself. It is
mentioned in Sumerian texts that date back more than
5,000 years ago. Beginning in the 1950s, scientists
debated the notion that beer, not bread, was actually
the start of the development for agriculture.

Almost every culture around the world has invented
its own concotion of beer. History says brewing
was a home based operation, as part of the preparation
in meals. From South Africa to China, the production
of beer grew in scale with the rise of society,
then later became primarily a function of the state.

The physical evidence of ancient brewing isn't easy
to obtain. With most cultures, home beer brewing
required only the basic of ingredients, such as a
fire, cooking vessels, and some jars. None of these
materials are unique to the brewing process. Jars
that were found near a kiln could have been used
for storing barley or wheat for bread, while cooking
pots could have been used for heating liquids.

So far, archaeologists haven't been able to find a
complete set of evidence. One of the oldest
breweries was found in southern Egypt and dates back
to over 5,000 years ago. At this site, teams found
well heated vats that were encrusted on the inside
with a cereal based residue.

Another ancient brewery was discovered along the
Nile in the middle of Egypt. The site was located
in what is thought to be the Sun Temple, where
a king's wife was buried. Archaeologists found
a complex set of rooms that had been used for
cereal processing. Ovens, grains, and larger jars
indicate that the rooms were used as a bakery or
a brewery.

In a different area of the world, excavators found
a brewery dating back to the times of the Romans.
On this site, there were preserved tables that
date from A.D. 100, with beer being specifically
mentioned on several of the tablets.

The chemical evidence of beer would prove to be a
site's purpose once and for all, although that
normally isn't easy. Alcohol is much too delicate
to last for centuries, as any cereal based residue
found could have come from baking just as easily
as from brewing.

Throughout the course of time, there will always
be evidence of beer being brewed many centuries
ago. Without actually finding physical evidence
though, it can be really hard to determine. If
there were physical evidence, it would be really
different indeed.

Now the original microbrews may date back thousands
of years but won't you join me in this wonderful hobby
and learn the fine art of home brewing. No, you won't be
one of the original microbrews but you can make your beer
your own original "brew".

Monday, May 24, 2010

Introduction To Microbrews

With their varying flavor intensities and alcohol
contents, microbrews are here because beer
distributors noticed a market demand and took a
gamble on imports like Corona in the 70s. This
type of flavorful beer sold to a limited yet very
enthusiastic crowd.

Beer manufacturers create what sells, therefore
they didn't believe there would be a significant
maket with those types of beers. Consumer studies
and sales showed that the biggest part of the
American audiences enjoyed watery brew.

Then, out of nowhere, microbrews popped up after
the first successful brew, Samuel Adams, fought
with import distributors to try and convince them
that a flavorful American beer would sell. Now,
we have more microbrews than ever before with more
coming out each and every day. Heck, I brew beer out
of my home, recently completing a great tasting
Belgian Tripel.

ATTENTION: You're About To Discover The Secrets To Brewing Delicious Beer In Your Own Home! "If You Can Boil Water, You Can Single Handedly Brew Your Own WILDY SENSUOUS Beer!"


Microbrews really hit when distributors really
believed that at least some people would buy them.
On the other hand, home brewers and brewpubs had
legal wars. In 1968, home brewing was legalized
and home brewers now had the support and assistance
of supply and advice stores.

Until 1983, brewpubs were illegal in all states.
Late in 1983, California first began to allow
brewpubs to brew and distribute their brands of
beer on site. These charming, yet small batch
breweries experienced high sales, especially in

Around a century ago, the United States had more
than 2,000 breweries making many different styles
and variations. By the 80's, there were only 40
brewing companies that offered a brand of American

Today, there are over 500 microbreweries and brewpubs
in the United States. Over the past few years,
brewpubs have been popping up all over th e place,
even in bars that used to only carry the top beers.

The History Of Microbrews

Many historians believe that the ancient Sumerians
and Mesopotamians were brewing as early back as
10,000 B.C. Even though this product would have
been different from the bottles varieties of today,
it would have still been recognizable.

The ancient Egyptians and the Chinese brewed their
beer, as did civilizations in America, where they
used corn instead of barley. Back then, thousands
of years ago, microbrews were very popular and
on their way to what we now know and love today.

In the middle ages, European monks were the
guardians of literature and science, as well as
the art of making beer. They refined the process
to perfection, and even institutionalized the use
of hops as both flavoring and a preservative.

It wasn't however, until Louis Pasteur came along
that a final, important development was determined.
Until this time, brewers had to depend on the wild
yet airborne yeast for fermentation. By establishing
that yeast is actually a living organism, he opened
the gates for controlling the conversion of sugar
into alcohol.

Grapes grow well in warmer climates, while barley
grows better in cool climates. This is how the
northern areas of Germany and England first became
famous for their beers.

In the U.S., a microbrew is a beer produced either in the home or in
a microbrewery that brews no more than 15,000 barrels of beer per year.
Some call these microbrews, craft beers.

Everything in America went dim until the dark day
of 1920, when prohibition took effect. A lot of
breweries went out of business or switched their
production to soda pop. Not everyone stopped
drinking, but gangster related products weren't
known for high quality.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president, he
quickly appealed the very unpopular law. The
new breeds of now famous beer came after World War
2 were generally mass produced and very bland.