Making beer is not all that complicated of a process. I watched my dad make beer all my life from when I was a young girl. Dad’s way of making beer was very low tech, and the source I used to help me write this article is the way my dad made beer. He never used a hydrometer to check specific gravity, he went by taste. He just knew when the brew was ready for bottling. For those of you that like to sit back with a nice mug of beer, read on. As the price of everything goes up it is still rewarding to be able to make your own beer.
I don’t drink so I have no reason to make it, but I was thinking yesterday how my dad loved making his favorite brew. You can make beer for your own use, but you cannot sell it, or you would be in the bootlegging business. You can order a beer making kit online, or you can have a do-it-yourself brewery that consists of a 10-gallon plastic pail or bucket (should be of food grade) that comes with a lid. You have to have a siphoning hose with a clamp. You can buy a beer making kit online that has everything you need to start making beer. If you buy a beer making kit, you will need to follow those directions and not the directions I am giving you, because the kits come with everything you need to make beer.
If you are going green, making your own beer is one way to help keep more beer bottles and beer cans out of the landfills. You can buy a canister to contain your beer, or you can bottle it in used plastic water bottles. Many folks feel it is unsafe to reuse plastic soda bottles, but my dad did it for years and he never had any ill effects. Before you start making beer be sure to wash your equipment with soapy water, and rinse well and let dry. Be sure to wash your plastic water bottles and caps with warm soapy water also and let drain. Next you will need to sanitize your equipment with a 1 tablespoon of Clorox per 1 gallon of water. Let soak for about 5 minutes and then rinse and drain. Your equipment consists of anything that is going to touch the brew, so the pail, hydrometer, and siphon will need to be sanitized.
Here is what you need to make beer:
1 10-gallon pail with lid for brewing
1 very large boiling pot
1 siphon with clamp
1 hydrometer (optional, but preferred)
1 40-ounce can of malt extract
6 cups of sugar
1 envelope of Brewer’s yeast
7 quarts of water
In a very large boiling pot bring 7 quarts of water to a boil. Add a can of malt extract and let it cook for 20 minutes and then take off the heat. Add the sugar and stir it until it is all dissolved. When you have stirred in the sugar, pour the hot mixture fairly quickly into your 10-gallon pail to aerate the mixture. Now finish filling the 10-gallon with bottled water to make the temperature warm. Before adding the yeast be sure to stir the mixture well to introduce more air into the mix. Now add the yeast and stir it around in the bucket. Mix the yeast in well and then put the lid on the bucket, but not really tight. You have to leave the lid loose enough to let the fermenting liquid lose its pressure. If you don’t leave the lid slightly ajar you may end up with a small explosion of beer. Let the beer brew for about a week to 10 days at room temperature.
How do you know when the brew is ready to be bottled? You can go by taste or measure the brew’s specific gravity with a hydrometer. There should not be any sweet taste from the sugar in the brew. When the brew tastes like beer it is ready to bottle. If you are judging by the hydrometer reading, the specific gravity of the brew should be between 1.010 and 1.015 for a light beer and for a darker beer the specific gravity should be about 1.008.
When you are ready to bottle the beer you will need to siphon the beer from the bucket into the bottles. You must take special care not to put the siphon down too far or you will pick up sediment. You also must siphon, rather than pour the beer into the bottles because you don’t want to agitate the mixture due to the sediment that can make the beer look and taste bad. Once one bottle is filled clamp off the siphon, so no air can go down into it and cap each bottle that is filled. This brew should yield about 80 16-ounce bottles of beer.