How to Make Beer at Home

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Start to Finish: 2 1/2 hours for brewing; 3 to 8 weeks fermentation and aging time

Servings: 5 gallons

Difficulty: Intermediate

Beer making lets you craft the perfect beverage -- one that's customized to your tastes and preferences. Home brewing became legal in October 1978, although certain states prohibited it until 2013. It is now legal to brew beer for personal consumption throughout the United States, although some states have restrictions on transporting it.

This recipe is loosely adapted from the Hoppy Red Ale recipe published by Serious Eats.

Warning

  • It is illegal to sell home brewed beer. If you want to turn your home-brew hobby into a business, you will need to license your recipe to an established brewer or open a licensed brewery outside your home.

Ingredients

  • 1 package Irish Ale yeast
  • 5 pounds pale malt
  • 1

    pound crystal malt

  • 1

    pound toasted malt

  • 2 ounces Centennial hops
  • 1 ounce Amarillo hops
  • 6 gallons purified water
  • Ice
  • Priming sugar

Things You'll Need

  • 1-step sanitizer
  • Fermenting bucket
  • 5-gallon brew pot
  • Airlock
  • Long handled spoon
  • Hydrometer
  • Bottles and caps

Sanitize

Fill the fermenting bucket with 3 to 4 gallons of tap water. Add 1 tablespoon of sanitizer per gallon of water.

Soak all of your brewing equipment, except for the brew pot, in the sanitizing solution for at least 2 minutes.

Tip

  • It is not necessary to sanitize the brew pot because it will be filled with boiling water that will kill any bacteria present.

Make Wort

Bring 2 1/2 gallons of purified water to a full boil in the brew pot.

Mix 1 cup warm tap water with 1 tablespoon sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over this mixture and let it sit at room temperature until needed.

Add the malts, and stir until they're completely dissolved. Bring the pot back to a full boil. The wort will foam up, then reduce. Once the foam has reduced, add 1 ounce Centennial hops, stirring constantly to prevent boil-over.

Continue to boil for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add another ounce of Centennial hops to the mixture, and stir to combine.

Boil for 10 minutes, and then add the Amarillo hops.

Cool the Wort

Remove the brew pot from the heat. Set it in an ice bath to cool the wort to below 80 degrees Fahrenheit as quickly as possible.

Warning

  • Be extremely careful while moving the brew pot. If you can, have another person help you. Five gallons of boiling liquid is heavy and will cause serious burns if it splashes on your skin.

Tip

  • A copper wort chiller is an optional but useful piece of equipment. It allows you to pass the hot wort through coiled copper pipes in the ice bath, cooling the liquid much more quickly than an ice bath can.

Ferment

Vigorously pour the cooled wort into the fermenter, allowing it to splash against the sides of the bucket, aerating the liquid. Add the proofed or liquid yeast, and stir gently.

Use your hydrometer to take an initial gravity reading. This number will tell you how dense the wort is compared to plain water. You use this reading as a baseline, allowing you to judge how much alcohol the yeast has produced.

Cover the fermenter with an airtight lid.

Insert the airlock and place the fermenter in a cool, dry place with a relatively steady temperature of between 65 and 68 degrees F. A basement storage room is ideal.

Allow the beer to ferment for two to three weeks, until the bubbling in the airlock stops.

Mix priming sugar from your beer kit into the fermented beer.

Fill and cap your beer bottles, and allow them to age for an additional two to six weeks.

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