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support of beernexus.com and the
generosity of "Captain Mike" Orloski
You are about to enter the exciting world of homebrewing that mixes art and science together to create one
of the truly enjoyable pleasures in life - quality beer. As we go through the process I will explain to you what I
have found to be the most practical way of brewing using equipment commonly found in local brew supply
stores or catalog outlets. You will find that the more you brew the easier it gets. So relax and enjoy!
In choosing to brew your own beer, you will eventually consider brewing outdoors although at times your
kitchen is the only choice. By keeping it outside you won’t hear complaints about odors or messy kitchen
counters or floors. Everything can be accomplished outdoors using the yard as a brew area and the garden
hose as your water for cleaning and rinsing. When done for the day the patio or deck can be rinsed off and
be ready for the barbecue. Neighbors will stop by to see that the roar is the gas burner and the odor is from
ingredients in the kettle that will someday be the best beer they ever had. One neighbor will offer to help
and then wind up being your brew partner. The next one might become the main bottle washer. Brew day
will be planned and don’t be surprised to have all the help you need. Basically the only time you’ll need the
kitchen is when bottling time comes around and even that can be avoided.
Brewing beer occurs in varying stages with the basics learned in the beginner phase. As you progress and
become more acquainted with the techniques involved you will move on to the intermediate phase where you
experiment with different recipes. The final stage is the advanced where brewing becomes more involved
and you find yourself reading more and more to learn as much as possible. You can take yourself into any
realm you choose and who knows what possibilities are out there.
Well anyway, brewing beer involves combining four basic ingredients, malted barley, water, hops and yeast.
This book will guide the reader in a practical way to achieve some of the best quality brews that will leave
most people pleasantly surprised and the brewer happily amused at their reactions. ENJOY!
The very first thing you need to know about brewing is that beer is created under the strictest sanitary
conditions. All your equipment has to be clean and sterile especially when you transfer your wort or
unfermented solution to the fermentation container. Transferring is called racking. I have found the best
cleaner to be a product called B-Brite or another called One-Step. These cleaners use carbonates and
oxygen bleaching agents. Many people use household bleach but it must be rinsed thoroughly so no
residue comes in contact with your product. When getting started brewing day mix up a solution of B-Brite
using 2 Tbs. Per gallon of tap water. Use a new water plastic gal. jug. Remember cleaners remove
contaminants and a sterilizer is needed to keep equipment clean and I recommend Star San. Star San is
an iodine and phosphoric acid sterilizer and I found that .66 tsp. or a little over ½ tsp. in a half-gallon of
water works well. You could use a growler from the local brewpub. In a clean 5 Gal. bucket put a bunch of
B-Brite and water to soak tubing and the plastic parts you’ll need later. On brew day get these solutions
ready and then move on.
Some households are also home to pets that shed and leave fur around no matter how well you clean. A
benefit of backyard brewing is that the deck and patio can be cleaned and hosed off prior to your session.
Rain and windy days also present their own risk of contamination and so must be dealt with in your own
unique way. Sturdy temporary windbreaks could be set up or working near the garage are some
alternatives. Always keep safety in consideration. Burners and boiling kettles produce vast amounts of
heat and must be respected. Your main concern with contamination is after the boil when cooling and
transferring takes place.
A few days prior to brewing soak the fermenter by filling partially with water, add some B-Brite, then fill it all
the way to the top. After using any piece of equipment try to rinse it as soon as possible to prevent any
caking or drying. Cleaning is easier later. Tubing is cheap and should be replaced often. Very hot water
(over 175 F) will sterilize and I boil any rubber stoppers used and the stainless aeration stone.
The equipment and procedures we will be incorporating are on the beginner level and at times other
processes may be discussed if they are relevant to the topic. All the equipment you will need can be found at
a brew supply house and they will be happy to get you started. Page 17 has an equipment list. To brew
outdoors requires a burner that can handle the large kettles that you will be using. They can be hooked up
to a natural gas line or in my area I have to use propane. For 5 Gal. batches an 8 Gal. stockpot is needed to
boil all the ingredients and water at the same time. Stainless steel, copper, or ceramic steel is required and
never aluminum since the acid can leach out the metal and destroy yeast. As you advance and see the need
for larger batches an old discarded keg of 15.5 gal. Is great for the brew kettle. You’ll have to cut a large
hole in the top and have a lid that fully covers it when needed. See if you can get your hands on a tempered
glass lid that fits. It is a good idea to use a kettle that can hold the whole volume of liquid so no additional
adding of water will be necessary, this way avoiding contamination. If you lack the proper size always top off
the fermenter with previously boiled and cooled water or sealed bottled water. A fermenter is a vessel where
the final product you boiled will be transferred to and allowed to ferment over a period of time. This can be a
new 5-6 gal. plastic pail bought at a brew supply. All my fermentation will be in a glass jug called a carboy.
Those are the containers that were used years ago by bottled water distributors. The preferable size is the 6
or 6 ½ gal. since this will usually give a 5 gal. batch enough space to ferment. Transferring is accomplished
by siphoning from one vessel to another with clear tubing. You will find a complete equipment list on page
17. All equipment purchased will be reused, excluding caps and ingredients, so only the initial costs may set
you back a little bit.
Gather everything you will need well in advance and review the functions of each so you are familiar with
each item. A large plastic container with a lid can be purchased to store these pieces when clean and dry to
keep them away from dust and grime. If your equipment is put away properly it will be ready for use in
|Brief Overview of the four ingredients: 4
The major ingredient in beer is malt and this can be purchased in different forms. A liquid or honey-like form
is called liquid extract and the powder form is called dry malt extract. The liquid form can have hops already
added but we are going to use unhopped and add the hops we have chosen. As a beginner we will be using
extracts and possibly some grains to create beers so no mashing equipment will be needed. Mashing is a
term used to describe a process where malted barley is added to a certain amount of water at a certain
temperature and held for a period of time. This process allows the enzymes in the grain to convert the
malted barley starches to sugars that the yeast uses for food. Extracts are the result of this process where
the breweries do all the work mashing then remove some water. Advanced homebrewers do this processing
which Involves considerable time and effort along with a vast array of equipment.
Any malted barley or grains we will be using are called crystal malt and these can range from light to very
dark. We can use these grains to accent the flavor and create different styles. They are rated in degrees
lovibond ( L) with 7 L being light to 120 L being dark. The grains are placed in a special bag to steep in the
kettle water at 150 F for 15-30 minutes. Recipe # 3 will use this step.
Liquid malt extracts can be purchased in cans of 3.3 or 4 #, prepackaged 6# or bulk. A good start for a 5
gal. batch is 6# with a # or 2 of dry malt extract added for a heartier brew. Liquid extracts are produced all
over the world and usually offer a selection that typically mimics a style particular to that area. Prepared and
ready to use they range in flavors from light to dark, including specialties like reds, I.P.A, nut brown, stouts
and porters. Dry malt extracts come in light to dark, as well as adjuncts such as wheat, rice, and corn sugar
powders. Advanced brewers often use oats and other specialty grains.
Once malt and other grain sugar is dissolved in water the liquid is called wort. The wort is boiled, hopped,
cooled, and then allowed to ferment. When fermentation is over the liquid is called beer.
|2. Hops 5
Hops give beer its distinctive flavor. Hops for brewing are sold as pellets, flowers, plugs and oil. The easiest
to use are the pellets and all my recipes will use this form. There are many varieties of hops and they are
chosen for the qualities they impart in the final taste. They can be split into two groups known as bittering
and aromatic. Bittering hops are added to the kettle at the beginning and or during the boil depending on
the intensity of bitterness desired. The process is referred to as the hop schedule where hops may be added
at time intervals of 60, 45, 30, 10 min. before or at the end of the boil. Aromatic hops are usually added at
the end of the boil to give the beer that floral aroma often associated with fine pilsners and robust ales.
Generally, when creating a recipe follow the hop profile charts to recreate the style you are shooting for.
My recipes will specify the type and amount of hops as well as the schedule. This determines the
characteristics of the beer outlined in the recipe section of this book.
All hops differ in the strength of bitterness they impart to the beer so a system was set up to measure this.
Hop varieties are judge for their quality and assigned an alpha acid unit percentage. These percentages
typically range from around a 3% of a Kent Golding to a 10 % of a Bullion variety. So choosing the right hop
will result in a beer that closely resembles the style that you are trying to duplicate. Consult your supplier or
check the profile chart listing all the available stock.
|3. Water 6
The quality of the water used can greatly affect the quality of beer produced. The water has to be free of
bacteria and chlorine. Tap water can be used even if it is chlorinated, just boil the volume you will need to
drive off the chlorine. Chlorine will also dissipate if the uncovered container is filled and set aside a day or
two. Water disinfected with chloramines cannot be used since it will not dissipate, so check with your
provider. Well water is great if it’s the water you usually drink. In brewing, hard water is used to make dark
beers and generally lighter beers use softer water. Darker grains are more acidic than the lighter varieties
and using harder water tends to result in the proper pH levels. Hard water can be “softened” by boiling
and cooling since the minerals will drop out of solution. Avoid using water from softener conditioning
systems since the sodium content may be too high, altering your final product. If you have access to
spring water and know it is safe to drink, test for hardness , or bring it to a pool water tester to get an idea
of what you are working with. Hey, promise to let them sample one of your great creations. A safe bet is
to use bottled water because it’s recognized as being clean and sometimes even has the mineral levels on
the label. Don’t be too concerned right now with water chemistry , as you grow from beginner to advanced
you will be experiencing different recipes and techniques on your own and from other sources that unfold
in a curious way.
Additions of certain chemicals can alter mineral content of brew water. Food grade Gypsum, or Calcium
Sulfate, lowers the pH and is used to add a vital yeast nutrient, Calcium. Calcium Carbonate can be added
to increase the pH and also add this nutrient. No more than a teaspoon of either should be added to a five
Water comparison charts are available to see how your water matches those used by famous breweries
throughout the world. Light pilsners are brewed by using the soft water of certain regions in Europe while
heavy ales and stouts are created using high mineral content waters of the British Isles.
|4. Yeast 7
Beer yeast comes in two types, ale and lager, with several varieties in each group. It is also available in
different forms with the most commonly sold being dry, liquid and cultures. Two liquid yeasts come from
Wyeast in a smack pak and White Labs in a vial. A few days before brewing the pak is smacked to break
the inner pouch, shaken and then left in a warm place to ferment. The pak swells and it’s ready to be
used. Simply pour the entire contents into your fermenter. This is called pitching the yeast. This amount
of yeast is adequate for a 5 Gal. batches however larger colonies of yeast produce quicker and more
complete fermentations. For this reason I recommend a yeast starter.
Once the pak has swelled it can be increased in volume by adding it to a sterile container that has a pint or
quart of sterile wort in it. This can be achieved by boiling a pint of water with an 1/8 cup dry malt extract,
cooling the pan in an ice bath (carefully avoiding contamination) and pouring it into a sterilized growler with
the contents of the smack pak. Shake well. Top off the container with a sterile cotton ball clump misted with
vodka and set it aside covered in a warm place for a few days. Those that have canning experience can
make up 12 1-pint starters using 1.5 # dry malt extract with appropriate amounts of water and process
accordingly. I use this method since it is the most convenient way to have starter on hand, especially in
hectic schedules. White Labs yeast is a pint starter “condensed” into a vial so for 5 Gal. it is sufficient.
When choosing a particular style of beer you want to brew an appropriate yeast must be used. Check with
your supplier or read the yeast profiles they furnish to make your own decision.
Observing the temperature of the fermenting area that will be used can give a good indication of the style
that will do best. Remember, ales do well between 60 and 70 degrees F and lagers between 50-60
degrees. Yeast that was started can be stored in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks if the brew day had to
be postponed. Then place the growler in a warm area and give it a feeding of a few ounces of sterile wort
a few days before needed. Allow fermentation to resume and then use to pitch. A quality dry yeast can
be used if a brew session wasn’t planned and yeast is needed without allowing for a starter. Always use 2
packets for 5-Gal and 3-4 for 10-Gal. batches.
|Beginner Brewing Tips
and Secrets Revealed!
By Michael Orloski