Brewing beer consists of the following basic steps:
1. The Mash – in this phase malt grains are steeped in hot water. This coverts the starches within the grains into fermentable sugars and causes them to be released into the water, the resulting solution becoming the wort.
2. Sparging – Basically rinsing any remaining sugars from the grains, we do this by straining the grains using our brew bag.
3. The Boil – the liquid wort is boiled & hops are added to it. The boiling allows hop oils to be taken up by the wort adding bitterness, it also ensures unpleasant aromas are driven off by evaporation and it concentrates desirable flavours and sugars in the wort.
4. Cooling – in our case we will simply allow the hot wort to cool to room temperature by removing it from the heat and leaving it to stand.
5. Fermentation – Yeast is added to the wort which converts its sugars to alcohol – turning it into beer.
6. Bottling & conditioning – After first fermentation has finished, the beer is bottled with a small amount of additional sugar. This sugar is converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide inside a sealed bottle. The trapped CO2 adds fizz to the beer. Extreme flavours are rounded off during conditioning allowing the beer to become more rounded in flavour.
The time-scale for brewing a beer using our kit are as follows:
1. The Mash – raising the water to temperature will take around half an hour, then you can relax for 50 minutes while the beer mashes.
2. Sparging – takes 10 minutes and is carried out whilst you start bringing the wort to the boil.
3. The Boil – bringing the hot wort to the boil takes around half an hour, then you boil it for one hour.
4. Cooling – you need to be attentive for the first half hour of this process, which can then continue overnight unattended.
This is all you need to do on the first day. A very relaxed time commitment of around 3 hours.
5. Fermentation – preparing for fermentation is carried out the day after the boil and will take around half an hour.
The beer is then left for 2 weeks to ferment.
6. Bottling & conditioning – Bottling takes around an hour and then the beer needs to condition for between 2 and 52 weeks. Flavours change with time and some beers are best drunk fresh, whilst some are best left for longer.
All of our current kits drink well within 3 weeks of bottling.
So, from buying the kit to drinking your beer should take a total of around 4-5 hours of 'contact time' and around 5 weeks of patient excited waiting.
You can take several different approaches to bottling your beer.
- If you have a lot of empty standard commercial beer bottles around they can be washed and sterilised and re-capped.
- If you have a lot of swing top Grolsch style bottles around you can wash, sterilise and re-use them.
- If you are on a tight budget you can buy packs of 500ml carbonated water from Lidl or Aldi (around £1 for 6 bottles, 3 packs will bottle a full brew). Simply unscrew the cap, empty the water out, fill with beer and screw the cap back on.
- You can buy a variety of bottles here. Each pack contains enough to bottle a full brew.
Detailed instruction for our brewing process can be found in these documents:
- General Brew Instructions (V3)
- Chestnut Brown Ale Instructions
- Chocolate Fountain Specific Instructions
- Craft Melb-A-le Specific Instructions
- Plum Porter
- Saison of Satan Specific Instructions
- Sheffield Stout Porter Specific Instructions
- Simcoe Masher Specific Instructions
- Smoked Cherry Ale
- Smokestack Darkening
- Wake and Bake Weizenbock
- Yankee PA Specific Instructions