HOW TO MAKE BEER
KEEP IT SIMPLE
“Until you master brewing, leave the recipe formulation to other people,” says Zainasheff, who started with a Mr. Beer kit he received one Christmas. Select a battle-tested recipe—stouts and IPAS are most forgiving—or a kit. Before you begin, clean and sanitize your equipment and kitchen.
Heat water to the appropriate temperature (usually about 160 degrees); add grains. This is called a mash. By steeping the oatmeal-like mixture for about an hour, you’re creating sugar-rich wort, a.k.a. yeast fuel.
LET IT DRAIN
Strain excess liquid from the wort into another pot, then rinse grain with hot water to extract remaining sugars, a process called sparging. (If you’re using an extract, add it to the wort now.) Boil the wort, adding hops in stages to impart bitterness, flavor, and aroma. (Fun fact: Hops are cousins to cannabis. And no, smoking them won’t get you stoned.)
Cool the wort in an ice bath to the proper fermentation temperature ( 45 to 60 degrees for lagers, 65 to 72 degrees for ales). Transfer it to the fermentation vessel. Add the yeast, seal the container, and shake. Relocate the vessel to your favorite cool spot—a basement or a closet.
WAIT OF THE WORLD
As your beer ferments over the next few weeks, drink plenty of brews. Clean and sanitize the bottles. Transfer your beer and a little sugarwater mixture to your bottling bucket. (The yeast will referment in the bottle, creating natural carbonation.) Siphon beer into the bottle and cap it. Wait a few weeks for carbonation to build, then invite friends over. Ignore what they say. “They’ll tell you that the beer tastes great or that it tastes terrible,” Zainasheff says. And there’s not much help in that.
JAMIL ZAINASHEFF, COAUTHOR OF BREWING CLASSIC STYLES AND FOUNDER OF CALIFORNIA’S HERETIC BREWING COMPANY