If you want to try brewing your own beer, you can buy packs that include the basic necessities, or you may prefer to do it all yourself. The process is fairly simple, starting with some malted barley soaked in a bowl of hot water. This releases the malt sugars, which are boiled up with hops for flavour. Once the mixture has cooled, the fermentation process begins with the addition of yeast, causing the sugars to release ethyl alcohol and CO2. Finally, the liquid is decanted into brown beer bottles with a little sugar to add some bubbles.
Brown beer bottles and other essential kit
To start with you’ll need a fermenting bin – 25 litres is a useful size. You’ll also need a siphon tube, a long plastic spoon, a hydrometer, a home brewing kit and of course some empty brown beer bottles plus caps and a pressured capper. Make sure all your equipment is sterilised before use!
Steps to filling your brown beer bottles
The key to home brew is the fermentation process, and fermentation is all about temperature, so you’ll need to ensure your fermenting brew maintains a temperature between 18-24ºC. You beer kit will come with instructions which you should follow to the letter, but the process will usually begin with a can of ingredients, which should be warmed in hot water before being added to your fermenting bin. You’ll then need to add sugar and boiling water, then stir the mixture together so the sugar dissolves completely. At this stage cold water can be added to make up quantities.
Yeast is then added to the brew, which is left to ferment – leave the bin covered with a clean cloth or just place the lid on top rather than snapping it closed. The mixture will froth away for a while and is ready when no more bubbles appear or a hydrometer produces a reading of 1.004-1.006. You then add beer finings and siphon off your brew into empty beer bottles.
Prime each bottle with sugar at the rate of about half a teaspoon per pint of beer and make sure the bottles aren’t filled to capacity – you’ll need to leave about 5cm of space at the top of each bottle. Bottles then need to be tightly capped. Store the bottles somewhere warm for about a week, then leave in a cool, dark place to mature for at least a week. Ideally wait for about two weeks for the best flavour.