Basic Brewing Instructions
Instructions for a partial (2.5-3 gallon) boil*
Required Equipment (all but the kettle is included in a basic kit from J&M)
Fermenter, 5 gallon kettle, Large Spoon,
AirlockBottle, Capper, Racking Cane
Siphon Hose, Bottle Caps, Sanitizing Agent,
Bottling Bucket, Thermometer, Bottle Filler
- Buy 2-3 gallons of bottled drinking water in order to top the fermenter off to achieve a final volume of approximately 5-5.25 gallons. Any brand will do and distilled water is not necessary. Tap water can be boiled and cooled for the same purpose. Because this water is never boiled, it needs to be free from microorganisms.
If your recipe contains grain, make sure the grains have been cracked. If not, using a rolling pin to gently crack them open. Some recipes have no grain and all instructions about steeping grain can be skipped.
Take your yeast, whether liquid or dry, out of the refrigerator. If using Wyeast liquid yeast, read instructions on back and activate the package.
Fill your kettle with 3-3.5 gallons of de-chlorinated water and heat to 160-165°F. Chlorine can be removed through a carbon filter, Campden tablets, or by buying bottled drinking water. Do not heat over 170°F.
Place the cracked grains into the muslin bag that came with the kit and tie the top closed. Suspend the grains in the pot by wrapping the bag around the pot handle or a spoon suspended over the kettle. Steep for 30 min. at 160-165°F. It is okay if the temperature dips lower than this but do not heat over 170°F or tannins will be extracted from the grains.
Remove the grains, let drip, but not squeeze. Bring the liquid to a boil. The grains and muslin bag can be composted.
Turn off the heat and add liquid and/or dry malt extract. Use a spatula to get as much of the liquid extract out of the container as possible.
Once the extracts are fully dissolved, return the liquid to a boil. Watch for a boil-over as it approaches what is called the “hot break”. This is when little chunks appear in the liquid, a head of foam appears on the surface, and it can boil over and make a mess if you turn your head for too long.
- Once the hot-break has passed (foam subsiding and a nice rolling boil), add the bittering hops (the hops that say “60 min.”) and start your 60-minute boil.
- Add the hops according to the recipe. Add the Irish Moss or Whirfloc tablet, along with your immersion wort chiller (if you have one) with 15 minutes left.
Once the wort has boiled for 60 minutes, it is time to cool your wort. Make sure everything that comes into contact with the cooled wort is cleaned and sanitized. If you have a wort chiller, use it to chill the wort. If you don’t, make an ice bath in the sink or bathtub and put the pot into it. Chill to about 70°F. Cover the kettle as much as possible during this step.
Follow instructions on the bottle and mix up a solution of sanitizer in your bottling bucket (whether Star San or Iodophor) and sanitize everything that will touch the wort after it is cool (e.g. thermometer, airlock, stopper, funnel, etc.). Next, transfer the sanitizer to your fermenter and sanitize that and the lid by swirling the sanitizer around in it with the lid on. Keep a small amount of sanitizer in some household container and discard the rest. Place the airlock in the lid to cover the hole but do not fill airlock with liquid yet
Once the wort has chilled to about 70°F, pour it into your sanitized fermenter. Try to leave the really thick sludgy part at the bottom of the kettle behind. Hops can be kept out of the fermenter by containing them in bags or pouring through a sanitized strainer. Pour aggressively as this is the only time you want to introduce oxygen into the beer.
Top it off with the cooled water from Step 1 to around 5.25 gallons. You want the extra amount to bottle a full 5 gallons.
Pour the yeast into the fermenter. If using dry yeast, sprinkle on top and wait 15 min. before shaking to mix. Put the lid on the fermenter and shake vigorously to introduce oxygen. Fill airlock to the line with sanitizer.
If your recipe contains “Dry Hops”, add these 7 days into fermentation.
Put the fermenter in a dark place (or cover) with a temperature around 65-70°F (refer to yeast strain you are using to determine the optimum temperature). You should see the airlock bubbling in 24 hours (if earlier, so much the better!). Fermentation will continue for about 10-14 days even if the airlock stops bubbling earlier.
On bottling day, take your fermenter out and place on your couter (siphons need gravity in order to work). Cover and let sit for a bit to let everything settle.
Sanitize bottling bucket, auto-siphon, tubing, bottle filler, spoon, etc. It is a good idea to practice using your siphon by siphoning the sanitizer out of the bottling bucket. This is also an effective way to sanitize the tubing.
Dissolve priming sugar in 2 cups of water and boil for 5 minutes. Cover with foil and let cool. Gently pour the priming sugar into the sanitized bottling bucket. Rack (transfer by siphon) the beer into the bottling bucket and gently stir with a sanitized spoon.
Using your bottle filler, fill the bottles and cap. If you do not have somebody to help cap, caps can be placed loose on bottles and then capped when you have finished filling all the bottles.
Store at room temperature and wait 2-3 weeks. Enjoy! Your beer will have a layer of yeast sediment on the bottom so the best way to enjoy it is to decant the beer off the yeast by pouring into a glass.
Once you have become comfortable with the process, please ask for some advanced tips for extract brewers to make your homebrew even better.