Homebrewing – a rapidly growing hobby, yet still a time-honored tradition. Brewing your own ales, lagers and stouts allows you total control in your beer’s taste, strength, crispness, etc. By having creative control over your bottle of brew – beer lovers can enjoy beers to their exact taste. Not to mention the sense of accomplishment, knowing that your efforts produced something of value to you.
Beer brewing kits help make this happen – but what goes into the brewing process? Beer brewing comes in five stages, which means you’re just five stages away from enjoying a delicious cold one.
What’s in wort? – Pale malt extract and hops are boiled together with water for about an hour to sterilize the extract and release the bittering qualities of the hops. Frequently grains are steeped in the mixture prior to the boil to add additional color and flavor complexity. This hot mixture is called a wort.
Chill Out and Ferment for a While – The hot wort is cooled to room temperature and siphoned to a fermenter where it is combined with more water to achieve the desired batch size. Once the mixture drops to room temperature, brewing yeast is added to start the fermentation process. Cleanliness and sanitation are very important since bacteria in this state can easily infect the wort. An airlock is used to keep the fermenter sealed during fermentation. Your beer will ferment for 1-2 weeks.
All Bottled Up – Once the beer is fully fermented, it is siphoned once again, this time to a container for bottling. This begins the priming process, when priming sugars such as corn sugar are mixed with the beer. The beer is siphoned into bottles and each bottle is capped with beer bottling equipment.
Age is more than a number – Once the beer has been bottled it needs to age for 2-6 weeks. During aging the yeast will ferment the remaining sugar you added and create carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide will naturally carbonate your beer so it is nice and bubbly. In addition, undesirable sediments such as excess yeast and proteins will drop out of the beer during aging and this will enhance the flavor of your beer. In may take several months to reach peak flavor, though homemade beer usually drinkable after a month.
Enjoy – Once the brew is properly aged, pop them in the fridge to cool once last time. Then, lay back, crack one open and enjoy!