Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Overview of the whole Brewing Process

Preparation of Ingredients.

The majority of grains used in brewing require crushing through a grain mill to open up the grains. This process is greatly eased thanks to the readily available pre crushed grains available from your Home Brew Shop. In other words this process has been done for you saving you time.

The grains then need to be weighed out according to your chosen recipe.


Mashing involves adding hot water to your crushed grains in order to extract the sugars from the ingredients. The usual process for mashing is to slowly add hot water, usually at a temperature of around 66° C, and leave standing in an insulated container (Mash Tun) to retain the heat for about 90 minutes. After 90 minutes the water (liquor) is drained off into a separate container ready for boiling.

Sparging (Rinsing the remainder grains)

The grains in the now empty Mash Tun will still have valuable sugars and flavours left in them. Sparging is a process of slowly rinsing these remainder grains in order to extract these sugars. The sparging process requires sprinkling hot (66° C) water over the grains while drawing off the water simultaneously.


Once the correct quantity of the sugary water has been extracted from the mash process this liquor then needs to be boiled for at least 90 minutes. During various points in the boil hops are added to add bitterness and aroma. This lengthy boil sterilises the liquor and gets rid of the unwanted proteins. This remaining liquid is usually reffered to as wort in brewing circles.

Wort Cooling.

The wort needs to be cooled before the next stages of brewing can commence. There are various devices for cooling the wort available to home brewers, the most common and possibly cheapest being a large coil of copper piping attached to two lengths of hose pipe. Cold water from the tap is passed through this coil for about half an hour to quickly cool the wort. (The cleaned copper tubing is placed in the boiler several minutes before the end of the boil to sterilise it). The hot wort can however be left overnight to cool naturally but I would advise cooling as quickly as possible to prevent airborne bacteria entering the liquid.


The now cooled wort is transferred into a fermentation vessel (most commonly a large lidded bucket). Here the yeast is added and the fermentation process begins. A hydrometer reading is usually taken at this point to attain the original gravity of the wort. This is where the majority of sugars are turned into alcohol. The fermentation process usually takes between 5 and 10 days. I usually start taking hydrometer readings after four days. When the readings are similar over a couple of days and the airlock has stopped bubbling it is time to either bottle or barrel the beer.

Bottling and Barreling.

Once you have determined that the fermentation has stopped we can now bottle or barrel the beer. The choice is yours and both methods have their own benefits.

When barreling a solution of sugar is made by dissolving 2-3oz of sugar in a pan heated on the stove. This is then allowed to cool and poured into your pressure barrel. You then syphon your beer from your fermenter vessel using your racking cane into the barrel, making sure that the end of the tubing is submerged beneath the surface of the syphoned contents and taking care not to disturb the settled sediment in the bottom of your fermenter. Once full, the barrel should be moved to a warm place to allow secondary fermentation to take place. After about four days the barrel should be left in a cool place to allow the barrel to clear and condition.

After 3 to 4 weeks, sometimes earlier, the beer should have cleared and is ready to drink.

Bottling is a similar process except that 1/2 teaspoon of sugar is added per 500ml bottle instead of the sugar solution. Home brew shops now sell tablets that are correctly measured for this process. The beer is syphoned into the bottles and the bottles are capped. Secondary fermentation is allowed to take place in a warm environment before moving the bottles to a cool place to clear and condition.

Home Brew using the Malt Extract Technique

Home Brew using the Malt Extract Technique

The benefits of Malt Extract Brewing

Beer Kits are a great way to start making your own beer but do lack the flexibility and control of the more advanced brewing methods such as Malt Extract brewing and All Grain (Full Mash) brewing. Malt extract brewing is where we start to gain more control over the finished beer and it is also a cost effective step up from brewing with beer kits.

Additional Equipment required for Malt Extract brewing

Assuming that you already have the equipment necessary for making commercial beer kits you will need in addition a boiler. This is basically like a large kettle with upward of a 5 gallon capacity containing either one or two heat elements. There are numerous models available from your home brew shop. Alternatively a large pan and a suitable hob style heater can be used. The other main bit of kit required is a wort cooler, the most cost efficient being one that is fashioned from a coil of copper tubing. This rapidly reduces the temperature of the hot liquor allowing the fermentation process to start as soon as possible therefore protecting the liquor from bacterial infection. There are various methods for wort cooling and some home brewers basically let the wort cool naturally overnight in a sealed fermenter.

Let's Make Beer with Malt Extract


Malt extract comes in either liquid concentrate form or dried (spraymalt). There are also different categories of malt extract, usually light, medium and dark. Light extract is ideal for most types of beers in particular lighter beers and lagers. Medium extract is usually the choice for bitters and slightly heavier beverages while dark extract is more generally used in stouts, porters and milds. Malts are basicly barley which has been kilned to different degrees, the longer the kilning, the darker the colour. This is then prepared into either spray malt or concentrate for use in malt extract brewing eliminating the mashing process for the end user.

Liquid Malt Extract usually contains about 20% water therefore 5kg of liquid malt extract is the equivalent of 4kg of dried malt extract.

Although malt extract brewing offers the home brewer relative flexibility in creating recipes there are some limitations to the ingredients that can be used at this stage. Cereal Adjuncts that require enzymic conversion through the mashing process can not be used. This includes ingredients such as torrified and flaked wheats, flaked barley and flaked maize.

Hops are also required. A wide variety of hops are now available and readily stocked at your home brew store.

In some recipes you may also be required to add extra sugar.

The final ingredient is a fining agent such as Irish Moss or Protofloc. These are used to remove the unwanted proteins that develop while boiling.

Where do I start ?

If you are new to this process the best place to start is with a malt extract kit available from your home brew store. Once familiar with the practise of malt extract brewing it is worth checking out recipe lists, many of which can be found on the internet or in home brew books. As your practical knowledge becomes more advanced you will find yourself altering recipes and eventually experimenting with your own recipes.

It is good practise to keep detailed notes of your brewing process so should you need to re-create your perfect beer your recipe will be at hand. Notes should be taken on temperatures, ingredients, boil times, hop introductions, yeast types etc. It is also good to include a section on tasting notes.


The water you use can have a great effect on the quality of the beer produced. Water treatment is an art form in itself therefore I am writing a seperate article on this subject which I will publish in the next few days. This will be well worth reading before starting your beer. In some areas the water is fine straight from the tap with little or no treatment however this all depends on your geographic location. Certain minerals and additives such as chlorine found in water can have a detremental effect on the outcome of your perfect beer. I have often purchased budget bottles of mineral water from my local supermarket to avoid treating water to great effect. On many occasions all that is needed is to boil the water that is going to be used the evening before brew day.

The Boil

Fill your boiler with the required amount of water. If you are using flavouring grains such as chocolate malt or roasted barley etc., fill a hop bag (muslin fine mesh bag) with the required amounts of the grains and add to the boiler while heating up allowing them to steep. These will need to steep in the water for about half an hour. If the water reaches around 77°C turn off the boiler and allow the flavouring grains to continue steeping for the full half hour. Once the half hour or so is up remove the hop bag.

Make sure the heat is turned off and add the required quantity of malt extract, dry malt extract and sugars (if required). The heat must be turned off to avoid burning the extract on the hot element or bottom of your boiler. Stir in the malt extract to help dissolve it.

Turn on the boiler and bring to the boil. You may find that a head forms on the liquor therefore it is important to keep a watch on all parts of the boil. If it looks as though it is going to boil over the top of the boiler or pan you can either turn off the heat or use a fine spray of water to ease the head development. This threat of a boil over can last between 5-15minutes. Once boiling add your first quantity of hops. These will be your bittering hops and require a long boil to extract the bittering alpha acids. Again, on adding your first quantity of hops you may find that a boil over is possible. This again will eventually subside after several minutes but you will need to keep an eye on it.

With about 20 minutes left to the end of the boil time we need to add our Irish Moss or Protofloc. These are known as Copper Finings, the Copper being brewers speak for the boiler. These finings attach themselves to proteins that have been created throughout the boil and helps them settle out of the liquor.

In the last 10 minutes of the boil it is time to add the aroma hops. It is important that these are not added to soon as we do not want to boil out the resins that create the flavours. Also at this time if you are using a copper wort chiller it is time to immerse this as the boiling water will sterilise the tubing. (The wort chiller should be washed before hand though !)

Boil for a total time is usually recommended at 90 minutes.

Wort Cooling

Now it is time to chill the completed wort. The quicker the better as we do not want any unwanted bacteria entering the wort. If you are using a copper tubed wort chiller it is now time to connect the water supply and run it through. This process usually takes between 20-30 minutes to get the wort down to a fermentable temperature.

Transfer the cooled wort to your fermenter vessel then continue the fermenting process here.

Ingredients for Making Beer

Ingredients for making beer are usually referred to as fermentable ingredients. Beer is primarily made up of Malted Barley, Hops, Water and Yeast. In this section I am going to explain some of the different varieties of primary ingredient available along with other beneficial additions to the basic recipes.

The ingredients used not only have effects on the flavour of the beer but also the colour of your final brew. When purchasing ingredients from your home brew shop you will notice an EBC rating on the packets. EBC stands for European Brewing Convention and the number corresponds to the colour created by that particular ingredient. The lower the number, the paler the colour.

These colour indications should be used as a rough guide as there are other factors in brewing than can have an effect on the intensity of colouring.

Malted Barley

Malted Barley is the primary ingredient to most ales and beers. It must be crushed before adding to the mash tun. The King of the Malted Barley family is Marris Otter although Pearl Malt is becoming popular with many commercial breweries.

Pale Malt is the most commonly used barley. It offers a pale golden colour through being lightly kilned by the maltster. Colour: 5 EBC

Extra Pale Malt is an even lighter version of standard Pale Malt and is becoming commonly used in light refreshing 'Summer Ales'. Colour: 2.5-3 EBC

Amber Malt is made from Mild Ale Malt, a barley with a higher nitrogen content allowing it to be kilned longer without it loosing it's fermentable properties. It has a refreshingly dry taste and a dark golden colour. Colour: 40-80 EBC

Chocolate Malt as the name suggests is a very dark malt that gives beer a dry full flavour and a dark colour and is used in many of the darker ales such as Porters and Stouts. Chocolate Malt is not just limited to being used in the mash tun but can also be added to the boiler if using the Malt Extract method of brewing.Colour: 900-1200 EBC

Mild Ale Malt is made from a barley with a higher nitrogen content allowing it to be kilned longer and develop a much darker colour than Pale Malt. Mild ale malt can be used in both the mash tun and also be added to the boiler if you are using the Malt Extract method of brewing. Colour: 7 EBC

Crystal Malt is a widely used malt in brewing and comes in several different colours, Standard, Light and Dark. The process of making crystal malt which includes wetting high-nitrogen barley and letting it soak in an enclosed vessel and then drying at high temperatures converting starches into sugars, imparts many nutty yet dry flavours. It also aids head retention of your finished brew and is also said to increase the shelf-life of the beer. Colour: Standard 150-170 EBC; Light 50-70 EBC; Dark 200-400 EBC.

CaraMalt is a sweeter, lighter version of Crystal Malt with all the benefits of head retention and body of crystal malt.

Roasted Barley is unmalted barley. The barley is roasted to a dark almost black colour and is used mainly in stouts. It has a dry burnt flavour and imparts a thick creamy head. It can be used in both the mash tun and the boiler. Colour: 1000-1400 EBC

Other Malts

Wheat Malt is primarily used in Wheat Beers giving a unique taste and body to the beer however more and more commercial brewers are using it in conjunction with traditional ingredients to produce some very palatable brews. A small addition can aid head retention in normal ales. Colour: 4 EBC

Rye Malt gives off a distinctive nutty, dry flavour to the brew and can be added to most types of beer as required. It is sold as Crystal Rye and Roasted Rye. It is a relatively new ingredient that has become commercially available to the home brewer and is worth experimenting with. Colour: 100-120 EBC; Roasted Rye Malt 800 EBC.


These are usually made up of unmalted grains and are used for subtle flavourings, body and head retention of the beer. They add very little to the overall colouring of the beer. They are often referred to as Cereal Adjuncts.

Flaked Barley has a grainy flavour and is used a lot in stouts. It can be used sparingly in other, lighter beers but you need to be careful about not using too much as it can create a haze.

Flaked Maize imparts a subtle corn flavour to the beer and can aid clearing of the beer.

Flaked Rice adds very little flavour to the beer but does add body and aids clearing.

Torrefied Wheat is used mainly for head retention and is great for European style lagers.

Malt Extract and Dried Malt Extract

Malt Extract and Dried Malt Extract are processed malts that are created to eliminate the Mashing stage of home brewing thus saving time for the home brewer. There are many types available from your home brew shop although the use of extracts does limit the recipes available to the brewer.


Hops are a major flavouring ingredient to beer and give individual beers their particular individuality. There are many hops available to the home brewer today, many being imported from other countries. Hops add to the bitterness of the brew and also the distinctive aroma of a beer. Certain hops are used for the bitterness qualities and others are used for there aromatic qualities. Bittering hops are usually added at the start of the boil where as aroma hops are added in the last few minutes of the boil.

For a more detailed description on using hops click here.


Sugars are essential in the creation of alcohol. Many All Grain recipes do not require any added sugars as the sugar need is extracted from the malts. However if using certain beer kits or if a recipe requires additional sugar - which is the best ?

Spray Malt is used generally as a replacement to sugar and imparts malt flavours and body to your brew. Spray Malt is often combined with dextrose or glucose and sold as a Beer Enhancer.

Glucose is a better alternative to household sugar and gives the beer a crisper taste. Ideal especially for lagers.

Lactose Sugar is an additive derived from milk and is non-fermentable. It can be used to sweeten beer and is often used in the production of wine.


Once again there are many varieties of yeast available to the home brewer. Many home brewers through personal experience have developed a preference to the type of yeast they use and the method of pitching the yeast. Yeast comes in liquid or dried forms, some of the liquid forms include a separate yeast nutrient to enable the yeast to work fast once added to the wort. Yeasts can also be divided into two groups - top working yeasts and bottom working yeasts. Bottom working yeasts may need 'rousing' every 24hrs to keep the fermentation process working. Bottom Working yeasts are commonly used in lagers.

Beer Finings

Finings are aids to clarify the beer quickly. The majority of finings are added before bottling or barreling however 'copper' finings are added during the boiling stage to extract the unwanted proteins from the wort. The use of finings at the bottling stage is not always necessary as over time the beer should clear naturally however the use of finings can help contain any sediment in the bottle making it easy to pour.

Irish Moss is used in the boiler in small quantites (100mg per Litre) towards the end of the designated boil time. It is derived from seaweed (chondrus crispus) and assists in the coagulation of proteins that may create a haze in the finished beer.

Whirfloc and Protofloc are tablet forms of finings, again used in the boiler instead of Irish Moss. Again these 'tablets' are derived from seaweed.

Isinglass is made from the swim bladders of fish, in particular the sturgeon. The main problem with isinglass is it's poor shelf life and storage requirements. Isinglass is added to the wort before bottling or can be added to the barrel.

Gelatine Finings are easier to use and store than isinglass. It is added to the wort before bottling or barreling and has the benefit of not just clearing the beer but also compacting any sediment well at the bottom of the bottles/barrels.

Other Ingredients

Although the main structure of this site focuses on producing standard ales and beers it can be said that there are many other ingredients that can be added or substituted to create a good beer. Coriander beers have become popular, Honey Beers, Ginger Beers and Nettle Beers are all drinks that you may have come across. Once you have learnt the basics of brewing the room for experimentation is huge.


Hydrometers measure the 'gravity' of your wort. The more sugars in the wort then the higher the gravity. As the sugar is converted to alcohol the gravity readings will lower.

This is useful to the home brewer as he/she can use the hydrometer to both check the content of alcohol in a beer and also check to see if fermentation has ceased.

The process of hydrometer readings starts with a reading from the fermenter prior to fermentation. This reading is known as the Original Gravity (OG). Through this reading the brewer can check if the gravity is that indicated by the recipe and add sugar if required to raise the gravity.

Once the airlock has ceased bubbling the brewer should then check the gravity of the brew. This is known as the Final Gravity (FG). If the FG is too high then the brewer may gently stir the wort to reactivate any yeast and continue fermentation and leave for 24 hours or until there is no bubbling from the airlock.

To ensure that the fermentation process has ended it is worth taking a couple of readings over a 24 hour period. If the FG remains the same then it is time to bottle or barrel the brew.

It is possible to take a hydrometer reading directly from your fermenter however it is easier to take a reading using a sanitised test jar filled with a sample of the wort.

Hydrometers are calibrated to be accurate at a certain temperature ie. 20°C. It is vital that you take a temperature reading when taking both the OG and FG readings. There are many correction charts available on the internet but you will need to find one that matches the calibration of your hydrometer.

Don't forget your hydrometer and thermometer must be clean and sanitised.

Calculating the Alcohol Content. ABV.

There are many methods for finding out the Alcohol By Volume (ABV) of your beer - some more accurate than others.

I use a simple equation to work out the ABV although if you do searches on the internet you will find many other more complex equations to determine alcohol content. I am only concerned about the ABV to the nearest 10th and the equation I use seems to be adequate and simple.

ABV% = (Original Gravity - Final Gravity) ÷ 0.79

Example: A beer with an Original Gravity of 1.045 and a Final Gravity of 1.008 will have an ABV of 4.9%.


Hops are the ingredient that give a beer its distinctive flavouring. Hops are used for both their bittering qualities and their aroma qualities. There are many varieties of hops available to the home brewer but it is important to know which hops do what. They can be broken down into three categories - Aroma Hops add flavour to the beer through the natural oils contain in the hops. Aroma hops are usually added in the last few moments of the boiling process.

Bittering Hops are primarily used for the bitterness imparted from the hops. These hops are usually added quite early into the boil as it takes the vigourous boil to separate the alpha acids contained in the hops that create the bitter flavour. Dual Purpose Hops can be used for both their bittering qualities and their aromas depending when the hops are added to the boil.

Alpha Acids

Hops contain both Alpha Acids and Beta Acids, the most important one to the home brewer being the alpha acids. Alpha acid is the bittering agent in the hop. Different types of hop contain different quantities of alpha acid - the percentage is usually stated on the packet - but there are many factors contributing to the level of alpha acid contained in any one variety of hop so any indication should only be used as a rough guide.

Below is a chart containing various hop varieties with an indication of the alpha acids present. Note though that the percentages of alpha acids can vary from harvest to harvest.

Hop Alpha Acid Chart

Hop Type Alpha Acid Location Type
Admiral 14.6% UK Bittering
Amarillo 5% USA Aroma
Bodecia 7.9% UK Dual
Bramling Cross 6.3% UK Aroma
Brewers Gold 6.1% Germany Aroma
Bullion 6.5-9% Bittering
Cascade 5-7% USA Aroma
Centennial 7.5-11% USA Aroma
Challenger 7.6% UK Dual
Chinook 14% USA Bittering
First Gold 8.3% UK Dual
Fuggle 4.9% UK Aroma
Golding 5.7% UK Aroma
Herald 12.7% UK Bittering
Hersbrucker 2.9% Germany Aroma
Liberty 4.5% USA Aroma
Mount Hood 4.4% USA Aroma
Northdown 8.4% UK Dual
Northern Brewer 8.2% Germany Dual
Phoenix 11% UK Bittering
Pilgrim 11.6% UK Bittering
Progress 6.4% UK Aroma
Saaz 3.4%% Czech Aroma
Sovereign 5.7% UK Aroma
Styrian Golding 4.5% Slovenia Aroma
Target 11.4% UK Bittering
Whitbread Golding 6.4% UK Aroma

Beta Acids

Beta Acids are not normally calculated as their impact on the flavourings of beer is negligible unless your hops are old. Even then they will only tend to impart a slight bitterness.

Hop Swap

Sometimes when following a recipe you may not be able to obtain a specific hop variety that is required. As we have seen above different hop varieties impart different quantities of alpha acids. A simple way of working out the different quantities required is:

(Amount of Hops Specified (grams) x Alpha Acid of Specified Hops (grams)) ÷ Alpha Acid of Replacement Hops

Essential Oils

Essential oils are released from the hop at temperature however prolonged boiling will diminish the effect the oils will have on your finished brew. These oils are what specifically adds aroma to your beer. To utilise these oils it is usual for the brewer to add the aroma hops into the boil in the last few minutes. As these hops will not be vigorously boiled the oils will not be cooked out and the alpha acids will not add any bitterness to the brew.

Hop Methods

Primary Hops

Primary hops are the hops added to the boiler at the beginning of the boil. They are the hops that have been chosen to add bitterness to the beer.

Late Hopping

Hops that impart aroma are usually 'late hopped' as little as a couple of minutes towards the end of the boil giving the hops just enough time to impart their aroma.

Post Boil Hopping

This is basically a process of steeping aroma hops in the wort after the boil has finished and the temperature has dropped reasonably.

Dry Hopping

Dry Hopping is the process of adding a few hop cones to the cask and letting the flavours impart. Care should be taken when using this method as a grassy taste can be emitted from the unboiled hops.

Hop Tea

This is basically the procedure of making a tea out of hops by infusing the hops in a pan of hot water and letting brew for about 30 minutes. Hop 'tea bags' are now commonly available from your home brew store.


The bitterness of the hops in Europe is calculated by in European Bitterness Units (EBC) or International Bitterness Units (IBU). This standard gived the brewer a good guide to bitterness when formulating recipes. In many cases EBUs or IBUs are indicated on the hop packaging.

Hop Utilisation

As matters relating to hops seem to be becoming clearer we hit upon the topic of hop utilisation. This basically relates to the efficiency of alpha acid extraction related to the conditions of brewing. In many circumstances only 25-40% of alpha acid is transferred to the finished brew. Hop utilisation is used to calculate as near as possible this extraction.

Factors effecting utilisation include the type of hop used - usually slower conversion with whole hops, slightly faster with pellets and even faster with hop extracts. The boil time has an effect - it is seen that the longer the boil the more alpha acids will be isomerised although if the boil is too long the extracted alpha acids can diminish. Hop rate can also have an effect on the amount of alpha acids extracted and some brewers add their bittering hops gradually instead of all at once.


Fermentation is where the magic begins - where the sugars and yeast are added to the wort and alcohol is made.

Clean and Sanitise all Equipment.

It is important that all equipment used at this stage is thoroughly cleaned and sanitised. This includes your fermenter vessel, the lid of the fermenter, the airlock, your thermometer and hydrometer and your brewers paddle.

If you are using a beer kit then a more detailed process of the fermentation process with beer kits can be found here.

Prepare the Yeast

Many people use dry yeast and simply sprinkle this onto the wort and then let nature take it's course however a rehydrated yeast or yeast starter is preferable as this allows the yeast to start fermenting almost as soon as it has been added to the wort. The yeast head produced during fermentation acts as a barrier to any airborn bacteria that could infect your brew.

To rehydrate dry yeast is simply a process of adding the yeast to a sanitised jug of about 225ml warm water (30°C-35°C) and after 15 minutes add a teaspoon of sugar or malt extract that has been boiled in a little water. Cover with cling film and leave to start the fermentation. The benefits of this is to check that the yeast is still alive or not too old - after about 30 minutes the yeast should start to foam. If not it may be wise to use a different batch of yeast.

A yeast starter uses liquid yeast. There are various types of liquid yeast including 'smack packs' which contain a yeast nutrient in a separate pack inside the main package. The nutrients are simply added by bursting the inner pack when needed. Liquid yeasts should be stored in the refrigerator until needed to keep the yeast dormant. Liquid yeasts need to be prepared at leat 4 days before they are added to the fermenter.

To make a yeast starter the liquid yeast must first be placed in a warm place overnight - the yeast pack (if using a smack pack) will swell overnight. Add roughly half a cup of dried malt extract to a pint of boiling water and stir to mix. Cool the mixture (putting the pan in a sink of cold water works well) until the temperature is around 30-35°C. Pour the contents including the sediment into a sanitised bottle or similar container. Pour the yeast into the bottle and cover well and give the solution a good shake to mix the contents thoroughly. Either cover the bottle with a loose fitting piece of cling film secured with a rubber band or fit an airlock to the bottle and leave to ferment. Eventually the sediment should drop to the bottom of the liquid and the liquid should clear. It is now ready to pitch when required.

Take a Hydrometer and Temperature Reading

Once the wort is in the fermenter it is time to take a hydrometer and temperature reading to find out the original gravity (OG) of the beer. We use this to calculate the alcohol content of the finished beer by comparing it to the final gravity (FG) reading we take later. Again make sure your hydrometer has been sanitised. Make a note of the readings for future reference. A hydrometer reading is affected by the temperature. Most hydrometers are calibrated for a temperature of 20°C. If the temperature is different you will need to refer to a hydrometer temperature chart.For more information on hydrometers click here. If the original gravity reading is not right you can make alterations by adding sugar or dried malt extract to raise the gravity.

Aerate the Wort

For the yeast to work correctly it is important that there is enough oxygen in the wort. This can be done by pouring the wort from one sanitised fermenter bucket to another several times or by vigorously stirring the wort with your brewers paddle for 5 minutes. Inserting the brewers paddle into a cordless drill is ideal.

Add the Yeast

Adding the yeast is simple. Dried yeast can be simply sprinkled on top of the wort and left to sink naturally with or without a gentle stir. Rehydrated yeast or a yeast starter can be added by pouring over the surface of the wort. Ideally the wort should be at a temperature of 25°C. If it is too warm then this could kill the yeast. If too cold then the yeast could remain dormant.

The Final Stage

Once the yeast has been added the lid needs to be secured to your fermenter and the airlock needs to be filled slightly with water and placed in the bung on the lid. The fermenter then needs to be placed in a warm place and left for several days.

After several days you will notice that the airlock has stopped bubbling. It is now time to take a hydrometer and temperature reading again. Leave for 24 hours and then do the same. Once the readings have stabilised the beer is ready for bottling or barreling.

If your liquor fails to start fermenting you will need to check the temperature of the liquor. If it is too cold for example below 16°C then the fermenter will need either placing in a warmer area or. a wise investment, is to purchase a brewers belt or heat tray. The brewers belts in particular are relatively cheap and simple to use. Once you have sorted the temperature of the liquor it is advisable to give the liquor a very gentle stir with a sterilised brewers paddle to agitate the yeast which may have settles to the bottom of the fermenter.

Alternatively the liquor may have been too warm at the time of pitching the yeast. If this is the case then the only way to save the beer is to pitch more yeast.

If the temperatures have been right through all the processes then you may be experiencing what is refered to as stuck fermentation. Again, a gentle stir so as not to allow excessive air into the beer, with a sanitised brewers paddle is advisable.

Go to Barreling and Bottling your Beer

Calibration of Home Brew Equipment

When you purchase say a fermenting bucket for example, they usually include a scale in 5ltr increments printed on the side. These are great as a rough guide but for our home brewing purposes we really require these measurements to be as accurate as possible.

You may find that you follow the instructions below and find that the measurments on the side are pretty accurate but even so it is worth the effort for peace of mind. There is nothing worse than a watery beer kit.

Calibration is pretty simple. All you need is a good size kitchen measuring jug and some good quality kitchen scales.

Place your empty measuring jug on the scales. If possible (with digital scales) reset the scales to zero with the empty jug remaining in situ. As cubic 1ltr of water = 1kg we now pour in 1kg of water and mark the measuring jug for further use. (If you have a large jug it is speedier to measure out 5 litres of water and mark the jug accordingly.)

We now carefully fill the jug to the mark and pour into the fermenter marking the fermenter in 5 Litre increments with a permanent marker. (It is not important to mark all the lower increments although it does stop you losing count of where you are.) Once 20litres has been added to your fermenter it is worth marking each litre increment.

You should now have an accurately calibrated fermenter and measuring jug.

You may also want to do the same with your boiler using exactly the same process.