Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beer Is Delicious: Brewing Beer At Home

Last year, I gave Foodgoat home beer brewing equipment and kit for his birthday.  

They sat, unused, for months.  

Until, a) he got a really big pot, which I had neglected to include in the equipment set, and b) he watched this video on youtube that demonstrated how to make beer at home.  The video was great because it  showed, more clearly, than any written instructions could, how to use the equipment and what each step of the brewing process was and how really simple it all was.  Plus, it has a rocking song at the end.  We set up the laptop in the kitchen and played the video while making the beer, pausing and rewinding and replaying when needed, which was helpful. 

Once he made the first batch of beer, Foodgoat was hooked.  Since then, he has made several more batches, with many, many more on the horizon (he recently went on a hops buying binge).  

Brewing beer at home isn't hard at all, and anyone who enjoys beer should consider trying it.  In fact, more people do seem to be catching up to the idea - homebrewing was listed as one of the top food trends for 2010.

Here are the essential steps.

The key to making good beer is cleaning - and this stuff, Straight-A, or its even easier version, One Step, works great, especially at taking off old labels. Remember to clean/sanitize all your equipment that you will be using for after the boiling stage - because after the boiling stage, any foul bacteria introduced can ruin your beer.  So sanitize everything (tubes, buckets, bottles, etc).  It's the most tedious part of brewing, but it's important.

The beer kits have the grains already crushed, but Foodgoat sometimes crushes his grains in a food processor.  And it smells like the best batch of cereal EVER. 
This step of making beer is basically like making a big batch of tea.  Put in the crushed malt grains (in a cheesecloth bag) until it reaches 155F and let it steep for 20mins.   Then take out grains.  Do not let it get over 165F.

Bring your beer tea - I mean, the wort - to a boil, then add the liquid and dry malt extracts.

Watch out - it may boil over!!  But like making dumplings, once the foam breaks you are good for the rest of the day.  Also like making dumplings, using a very big pot and a very big spoon helps.

Add the hops and let boil 1 hour- then add finishing hops for a few minutes.

Bring the hot wort to room temperature as quickly as possible - while using a whisk to stir.  Foodgoat uses an ice bath - the kitchen sink filled with a bag of ice and cold water. 

Next, add yeast - and fill water in the gas exchange thingy.  Close and let sit for 5 days at 65-80 F.  What's it doing?  Fermenting!  Turning sugars to alcohol! Yum!

Transfer beer from the primary fermenter to either a secondary fermenter (using a clean tube to siphon) or go straight to bottling (adding a priming sugar, which makes the carbonation, to the bottling bucket) like Foodgoat did the first time.  

Add a tube to the spigot of the bottling bucket with the filling wand attached and fill the bottles.

Cap it!  Foodgoat generally gets about 4 cases of beer per batch.

Now real hard part - wait 3 weeks and enjoy.


  1. My friend is a home brewer. We gather at his house for Super Bowl and Oktober Fest. He has 10-tap beer kegarators. Yes, 10. Not counting 4 extra for home made sodas his wife makes.

  2. I've always wanted to brew my own beer! I just need to go to the home brew shop and invest! It should be fun to come up with my own unique recipe and then share it with friends!

  3. Brewing beer is one of the best things I have ever done in my life (besides getting married and having a wonderful child).

    Not only is it SUPER fun to hand out your OWN beer to friends, there is a primal sense of pride: to craft BEER. "LOOK ME MAN... MAKE BEER"

    I highly recommend trying it out.

  4. I am amazed by how these beers change over time. About 3 weeks ago, I cracked open a Goatbrew from the first batch... it got really unbalanced, and kinda nasty. Yesterday, I had one from the same batch and it was fantastic. Soon, there must be a Goatbrew IPA, if only for the opportunity to play with hops.

  5. WJW, I think you got a bad one the first time. That batch was my second brew and I have noticed a few bad bottles. I am getting better at producing less bad ones.