Beer Brewing Basics: What You Need to Know to Craft Your Own Brew
Brewing your own beer has many benefits. You can save money, spare the environment the impact of manufacturing, and most of all, the obvious: You can create your own concoctions with little effort. And don’t some things just taste better if you’ve made them yourself?
With summer just around the corner, home brewing is all the more enticing: You can swap your beach beers for one of your own, or even invite friends over to share in the process. Whatever the case, this step-by-step process will have you converted in no time.
Read on as we break down the basics of homebrewing, with help from our friends at Brew Your Own magazine.
The four ingredients
Malt is a grain that has been prepared for brewing by a process called malting. Malted barley is the most common base grain used in beer, but malted wheat is also prevalent. In some beers, unmalted ingredients — e.g. corn and rice — are used. Malt provides the sugar that the yeast consumes during the brewing process and therefore determines the strength of the beer. Simply put, more malt equals stronger beer. Still, most brewers do not malt their own grains. They simply purchase malt produced by “maltsters” or they use malt extract, a more highly processed form of malt.
Hops provide the bitterness to balance the sweetness in beer. Compared to malt, hops are added in small quantities to beer, even in the bitterest IPAs you’re probably used to tasting. Most home brewers use pellet hops in their brewing as this is a convenient form to store and use.
Yeast converts wort (or the unfermented beer) into beer by consuming sugars from the malt and converting them to alcohol and carbon dioxide — both necessary to give beer its kick and fizz.
Typically, most beers are more than 90 percent water by volume. Because of this, make sure you choose your water carefully: If your tap water doesn’t taste good, try using bottled spring water instead.