Home Brewing Beer

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Thu, Jun 20, 2013 - 8:50pm

On a day like today in the markets, the bear gets everyone. And the road ahead looks grim.

Who could use a cold beer? I sure could (and I don't drink!).

I've realized this site doesn't have a lot of home brewing content. With a deflationary rout threatening to expode on the world, we'd better change that ASAP. We're going to need some pleasant diversion (plus, beer is a great social currency).

If you've got some expertise to share, we'd love to a receive a What Should I Do? post from you on making beer at home. You'll undoubtedly inspire a few aspiring brewers to take up the craft. Those interested should email Jason

To kick things off, here's a simple write up from HomeBrewing.org on how to make mead (a great project for you beekeepers out there). I'm surprised at how long you need to wait before it's tasty to drink (6 months to a year), so get cracking!

How to Make Mead

The process is very simple; being patient is the hard part. I will briefly explain the steps and the equipment into making mead right at home. You will be shocked at how easy this honeymooner’s beverage is to produce:

The basic equipment needed for mead making isn’t very expensive, and usually lasts for a long time. Local Homebrew shops generally have these items in stock daily. If you have any items at home already, feel free to use them. Here is the list of items that I recommend you have in order to make mead:

  • Stainless Steel Stock Pot
  • Thermometer
  • Hydrometer
  • Plastic Fermenter
  • Glass Carboy
  • Fermentation Lock and Stopper
  • Racking Cane and Tubing
  • Sanitizer

Instructions for How to Make Mead
Now the part that you all have been waiting for, the steps involved in making your first batch of mead. You will start out making sure all your equipment is clean and sanitized. Anything that touches the must(unfermented honey and water mixture) should be sanitized.

Put a gallon of water into your stainless steel pot and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. After boiling for 10 minutes remove pot from heat and add yeast nutrient, yeast energizer, and honey. Stir the pot until the honey and water have mixed completely. Hold the must at that temperature(around 170 degrees) for 10 Minutes. Chill the must down to 80 degrees. Take a hydrometer reading. Pitch(add) your yeast into the must, stir vigorously for 5 minutes. Place the lid on your fermenter with the air lock attached. Fermentation should begin about 24 to 48 hours. 2 to 3 weeks later(or when fermentation is done) rack mead into a sanitized carboy. Let it sit another 3 to 4 weeks. Rack for the final time into another sanitized carboy and let it sit until the mead is clear(another 2 to 3 months).

Now that you have finished making your mead it’s time to bottle. For a still mead you will need to add potassium sorbate to stabilize. Mix the sorbate through out your entire batch then bottle. For a sparkling mead DO NOT add potassium sorbate. Use champagne style bottles for carbonated mead.

Here comes the hard part, letting the mead mature or age in the bottle. Mead will improve dramatically with age. Leaving it sit for 6 months to 1 year before opening is ideal. Be patient and it will really pay off. Enjoy!

Also for you experienced brewers out there: Consider creating a Peak Prosperity Group for home brewing. It will be a great way to share your passion (and favorite recipes, etc) with other beermakers.

Note: If you're reading this and are not yet a member of Peak Prosperity's Agriculture & Permaculture Group, please consider joining it now. It's where our active community of gardening enthusiasts share information, insights and knowledgable daily discussion to help you succeed in growing your own food. Simply go here and click the "Join Today" button.

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5 Comments

Jbarney's picture
Jbarney
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 26 2010
Posts: 233
Silver and Cider

With the declining price of silver these last several months, I have been thinking of my hard cider a little more often.  Anyway....for those people not interested in brewing beer, which I understand is a little more difficult than some other hobbies....cider and wine are actually fairly easy to do.  Just a matter of yeast and time.  It is a bit more difficult than that, but I've made both with great results.

 

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
My Advice.

The best advice when making home brew is to write your doctor's number near the phone.

susanattheville's picture
susanattheville
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 22 2011
Posts: 20
homebrewing

Just wanted to share that home wine making is easy and fun, too. We make elderberry, rhubarb and wild plum wine - the results are impressive and the effort minimal. Yes some equipment is required - glass jugs, corks, air stoppers - along with some materials, like sugar and yeast. But really, the main requirements are the fruit (gathering wild fruit, like elderberry or plum is fun and inexpensive), and patience for the brewing process. In the case of these "wild" wines, only a couple weeks are generally needed to have a very drinkable product. These products can be stored in old wine bottles, which can be re-used again and again.

A good place to start and for more info. is John Seymour's book "The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live it".

Cheers!

Jeff & Susan Smail

marky's picture
marky
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 27 2010
Posts: 33
Brewing Beer

Brewing beer is pretty easy, in my experience.  I've just bottled 5 gallons and have 5 more to bottle later today.  I got into it a few years ago, in the following way:

- Bought a brewing kit from a local bew shop.  The main components are a large boiling pan, a 6 gallon plastic bucket, a secondary fermenter and a bottling bucket.  Plus a siphon and thermometer.  If you don't have a brew shop nearby these kits can be found for less than $100 online.  All components can also be picked up individually from a hardware store, probably for a little less.

- Bought a couple of beer brewing ingredients kits as well, which each have detailed instructions and really help when you are getting started.  I started simple, with a pale ale and an IPA.   Now I'm buying individual ingredients and also adding some of my own hops, which are easy to grow.

The process is pretty simple: Get your ingredients (malted grains, sugar and hops) boiling for an hour.  Transfer to the fermenter for 5-10 days, depending on the type of beer being brewed.  Some beers work well in a secondary fermenter for a week or so as well.  Then add some priming sugar to encourage carbonation, and bottle.  Drink in another 5-10 days.  Pay attention to cleanliness of equipment along the way.  So, the pale ale or IPA type beers can be ready to drink in 2-3 weeks. 

Some beers are more elaborate, with more complex ingredients and hop mixes.  There are tons of books out there that can help you if you want to become more adventurous. 

So it's an easy process, and the beers I've made have been very drinkable.  Too drinkable actually.  It costs about $30-$40 in ingredients (less if you use your own hops) to make 5 gallons of beer, which is 50 or so 12 ounce bottles, or about 9 six packs.  I think you probably end up saving $20-$30 per 5 gallon brew.  Not a lot, but not nothing.   And it tastes better, more so after the second or third glass!

 

Hope that helps.

sugraham75's picture
sugraham75
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 20 2013
Posts: 13
An Addicting Hobby

I've been brewing beer for about 15 years now and have found it to be a very fun, rewarding, challenging, and addicting hobby.  Be prepared to brew some swill at first!  I've found it takes a good amount of research, patience, and plenty of trial and error to brew consistently good & enjoyable beers.  However, it is very rewarding to crack open the first bottle of a good batch and take pride in your creation.  You can save money by brewing as ingredients are cheap, but be warned - if you really get into it, it's very easy to get carried away with the equipment purchases.  At this point, I'm brewing 10 gallon all-grain batches, which all go up on to my 4-tap kegerator.  It will take me a while at this point to make my money back on all of the equipment, but I have found an enjoyable, rewarding, and sustainable hobby in home-brewing, and that goes a long way in my book.

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