Making beer: Special for your life!

Looking for something special for the beer brewer in your life. While most of us don't have beer for breakfast anymore, for many, beer continues to be a very enjoyable, thirst-quenching beverage that we imbibe on a regular basis. The joy of producing your own beer, experimenting with different varieties and tastes while avoiding the chemicals and additives in commercial beer, can be a very satisfying, healthful and economical hobby that may develop into a passion.
Some beer makers claim that if you can boil water and follow a recipe, you can make good beer. So, the first rule of thumb in beer making is: follow the recipe and instructions that come with your equipment or beer making kit!

You will need a cool, dark space large enough to hold your fermenting bottles, at least two feet by two feet. A closet will do. You'll also need a stove and water.

The procedures involved in beer making can be boiled down to three main stages:
- combining the ingredients and initiating fermentation
- transferring the fermented beer, first into a secondary fermenter and then into bottles
- bottling, capping and storing your beer for further maturation and clarification.

Within each of these stages, following proper sanitizing, measuring, siphoning and sealing procedures are essential to prevent bacteria and produce great-tasting beer.
Temperature control is also essential during all stages and during storage. Yeast and enzymes are especially sensitive to the temperature of their environment, and inappropriate temperatures at any stage can destroy your beer.

Aside from precise temperature control, precise measuring of ingredients is also essential. Many beer ingredient kits will come with pre-measured ingredients, but if you are going 'from scratch', follow the measurements recommended in your instruction booklet and record any variations so you can track successes and failures.

The art of making beer can be as easy or as complex as one makes it. This article is meant to simplify the process and outline the basic elements of homebrewing for the first-timer. It is recommended that you first purchase an equipment kit from your local retailer or online. These generally cost between $60 and $100 and include the essentials you need to get started such as a fermentation bin, bottling bucket, racking tube, fermentation lock, and other accessories.

Now, let’s prepare for our first brewing session. Cleanliness is of utmost importance. Make sure your brewing area is clean, organized, and your equipment is sanitized.

For the sake of ease, we’ll brew what I like to call an "in-and-out" kit. One of my favorites that falls into this category is EDME’s Red Devil Ale. This particular kit includes a 4lb. hopped can of malt extract and a package of dried yeast. The only additional ingredients needed are 2lbs. of dried malt extract and five ounces of corn sugar for priming. Some people may still prefer to add hops for aroma, but this is not completely necessary as our can of malt extract has already been hopped.

We begin by bringing ½ gallon of water to boil in a stainless pot. Then, we add the entire contents of the can of malt extract and the additional 2lbs. of dried malt extract. Continue stirring to avoid scorching. Also, adjust the heat. We’re not trying to achieve a rolling boil. Rather, a light boil at about 160 degrees Fahrenheit for about five to ten minutes is perfect. Once the boil is finished, remove the pot from the burner.

We can now pour three gallons of cool to lukewarm water into the fermenting bin. Be sure to pour from a reasonable height so as to add oxygen to the water. Next, siphon the mixture (wort) from the pot into the fermenting bin, and top off the bin with additional water until the total volume is at five gallons. Place the lid on the fermenting bin to avoid the introduction of airborne particles, and allow the wort to come to a temperature of between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then, you may add the yeast, and thoroughly stir with a sanitized, stainless or plastic stirring spoon. Place the lid and fermenting lock on the bin, and stand the bin at room temperature for approximately seven to ten days. When fermentation appears to have stopped, the beer is ready for priming and bottling.

Siphon the beer from the fermenting bin to the bottling bucket making sure to transfer the smallest amount of the yeast sediment as possible. Stir about five ounces of corn sugar into one cup of boiling water. Add this mixture to the bottling bucket, and stir. Now, siphon the beer from the bottling bucket into individual bottles. Cap each bottle and store at room temperature and away from any light for about two weeks. In all, your beer should be ready for consumption within four weeks from the original date of brewing.

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About The Author, Daniel Jowssey
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