Simple tools and techniques for making beer at home

July 29, 2015

Beer is one of the most popular drinks in the world, as much for the ease with which it can be made as for its good taste. Here are some simple techniques to make the process easier.

Simple tools and techniques for making beer at home

Fine flavour, modest cost

The main ingredients for making beer are brewer's yeast, water, malt and hops.

  • During fermentation, the yeast consumes sugar and produces carbon dioxide and alcohol. Sugar is naturally present in the malt, but more is usually added in the form of glucose or dextrose.
  • Good fresh water is important in making beer, but almost any suburban tap water will produce an acceptable brew.
  • It is the blend of sweet-tasting malt (made from barley) and bitter-tasting hops (the female flower of the hop vine) that gives beer its distinctive flavour.

Simple ways to make home brews

The traditional method of brewing beer is quite complex as well as time-consuming, and is restricted to commercial brewing.

  • Two simpler techniques are used to make home brews.
  • One uses dried malt extract, eliminating the need to process barley grains to obtain malt.
  • Prepackaged home-brewing kits are even simpler to use. They consist of a can (a "beer pack") of concentrated wort — the cooked malt, hops and other ingredients — together with a sachet of yeast. The home brewer simply adds water to start the fermentation process.

How to use a hydrometer

A common problem for novice brewers is not knowing when fermentation has finished and their brew is ready for bottling. The right moment can be determined simply by noting when bubbling in the airlock ceases.

  • A more accurate way is to use a hydrometer, which tests the specific gravity of the brew.
  • To test specific gravity, pour some brew into a glass cylinder, let it cool to 20°C (68°F) and insert the hydrometer.
  • Twirl the meter to release any air bubbles clinging to it, then let it float, making sure that it does not touch the bottom of the cylinder.
  • Position the jar so that the hydrometer's scale is at eye level.
  • Surface tension will make the liquid curve up where it touches the shaft of the hydrometer. Ignore this, and take the reading where the flat surface of the brew would cross the scale.
  • A reading of between 1000 and 1006 means that fermentation has ended and the brew is ready to be bottled.

With an inexpensive home-brew kits and a hydrometer, making your own beer is easier than ever. Keep these tips in mind, and create a delicious brew today!

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