Get started with our quick-fire guide to the basics of making beer at home
Successful homebrewing begins with sanitised gear (Star San, £18, beerhawk.
co.uk) and, for newcomers, a beer-making kit. The majority of these come with a full recipe and ingredients, including malt extract. Start by boiling this in water to create ‘wort’ (basically, unfermented beer), then add hops. These add flavouring and can be thrown in at various points in the boil. Hops used at the start add bitterness, while hops added later enhance aroma.
The end of the boil is also a good time to add Irish Moss (£1.95, brewbitz.com), a ‘fining’ used to help proteins and tannins coagulate into small lumps for sieving out, resulting in clearer beer.
After boiling the wort, cool it quickly by sitting the pot in ice water. Once it has cooled to around 27°C, transfer it to a fermenting vessel (Fermenter with Airlock, from £5.95, lovebrewing.co.uk). Use a sieve to remove the hops, then add cool water according to the recipe.
Mix in the yeast, then place the lid on the fermenter. Let it all ferment for the time stated in your recipe. After 24 hours or so the airlock on your fermenter should bubble, which means fermentation is taking place.
Know when to bottle it
Use a hydrometer (Beer Wort Refractor, £15.99, amazon.co.uk) to ensure sugar is being converted into alcohol, and to measure the ‘gravity’ of your beer. This will give you a guide to the beer’s ABV (alcohol by volume).
When the bubbling stops, fermentation is over. Add priming sugar (included in most kits) to your mix to ensure carbonation takes place once the beer is siphoned into bottles. Cap them (use a Twin Lever Bottle Capper, £10, wilko.com), then store your bottled beer at room temperature for two weeks.
After that time has passed, move the bottles to a colder room to boost the clearing process, which should take one to five weeks depending on the specific beer you’re making. After that, it’s beer o’clock!