So now that you’ve got all your equipment, it’s sanitized, and ready to go, it’s time to brew. But first, let’s talk about the ingredients you’ll need for your first brew. Essentially the basic parts of beer are malted barley, yeast, and hops. A lot of recipes call for more additions, but for your first brew, that’s really all you need.
Most home brewers brew in 5 gallon batches, and most kits out there are fitted to this quantity. Most people recommend boiling half of your batch. So you’ll want to put 2 1/2 gallons of water into your brew pot, and then bring it to a boil.
Once the water is boiling, you’ll want to take it off the heat, and then add your malted barley extract. Stir it in slowly and make sure that none of it sticks to the bottom of your pot. You wouldn’t want any of it to get burned on the bottom.
After your malt extract is mixed in thoroughly, return the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add in your hops.
Be Careful: Boil overs are common during this process, especially when you first add in your ingredients. They can be very messy and hard to clean. If you see an excess of foam collecting at the top, remove the pot from heat until the foam subsides.
Different recipes call for different boil times, but on average, you’ll want to boil your mixture for about 60 minutes. Once your boil is complete, take it off the heat, and now it’s time to cool.
Cooling your mixure, now called wort, is an important part of the process. After it’s cooled, you will add your yeast, which will ferment the wort. Yeast needs to ferment at certain tempatures to achieve best results. So your wort needs to be cooled to approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Wort chillers are available for purchase, which can help speed up this process. A lot of home brewers simply fill a tup with ice water, and place the brew pot in it.
Once your wort is chilled, it’s time to add it into your primary fermenter. This usually is a large plastic bucket. Before your pour your wort in, you’ll want to fill the bucket with the remaining 2 1/2 gallons of water.
Now that everything is in the fermenter, it’s time to pitch your yeast. A lot of people rehydrate the yeast before adding it to the wort. You can do this by filling a cup with 100 degree water, sprinkling in the yeast, and letting it sit for 10 minutes. A lot brewers skip this step and still have good results.
Once you’ve added your yeast, seal the bucket with the lid, and insert your airlock. Many kits come with lids that have a hole drilled and grommetted for the airlock. Others have a rubber stopper with a hole in the middle for the airlock. Either way is fine.