Yes, the rumors are true – you can learn how to brew your own beer without a kit, at a fraction of the cost you spend for each commercial beer. The method we’re going to be introducing you to involves a simple fermentation process and you will need only 1 brewing container.
However, if you’re planning on bottling your handiwork, you will also need large, 2-liter reusable pop bottles. These will save you from the trouble of capping, bottling and washing those 60 to 70 regular-sized serving bottles. Of course, you’ll also be sparing Mother Nature from the negative impact of manufacturing 60 to 70 glass bottles or aluminum cans.
What You’ll Need:
All of the items you will be needing to brew your own beer without a kit, can easily be found at your nearest beer making supply store or even at most hardware stores.
- A 20-gallon, plastic food-grade pail (with a lid)
- A food-grade 74” siphon hose with vinyl tubing
- A hose clamp for your siphon
- 12 two-liter pop bottles (plastic, ceramic or glass)
- A hydrometer (a thermometer may be useful too)
- A 40oz can of any variety you prefer (stout, dark, light) or even a 1.5 kg can of the same
- A teaspoon of brewer’s yeast
- 6 to 7 cups of white sugar (a “healthier” alternative will be 8 to 9 cups of corn sugar)
It is a common saying among home-brewers that 75% of a brew is good sanitation. For this reason, you should first rinse all of your equipment with slightly soapy and warm water. You can also proceed to add some household bleach in a gallon of water to do the same.
If you have as much of an obsession as us, you could also purchase a no-rinse kind of acid sanitizer which leaves behind no aftertaste and is still very effective.
With your equipment free of contaminants, your first step toward brewing a homemade beverage will be to pour 10 liters of cold and fresh water into your 10-gallon pail (aka the carboy). If your pail is new, we’d recommend washing it out with a mixture of baking soda and water to get rid of that unmistakable plastic smell.
Next, you should use your largest pot to boil approximately 7 liters of water before adding a can of malt extract. After doing so, you should cook your brew for about 20 minutes while occasionally giving it a stir. Now, add the 6 – 7 cups of sugar and allow it to dissolve while stirring the mixture.
As soon as the last of the sugar disappears, it is time for you to pour the beer variety you chose to your carboy. The trick here is to ‘splash’ all of the contents very quickly because doing so adds air into the mixture. You see, the more air your yeast gets, the better the end result will be. In addition to this, more air will get things going faster than the other way around.
Now you should top up your carboy with tap water or bottled drinking water until its temperature is back to neutral. If you choose to use tap water, then we would recommend to first boil a kettle-full of it to kill all the bacteria. After topping up the carboy, you can now use a sanitized thermometer to test its temperature.
Finally, it is time to sprinkle some yeast onto the mix and cover the lid. Make sure that you set your lid loosely because if it is too tight, then the carboy may explode because of all the carbon dioxide produced in the fermentation process.
Now that you have kept your brew covered for 6-10 days (without any unnecessary peaking), it is finally ‘ready to bottle’. To do so, set your carboy and all of the dozen 2-liter bottles on your floor, perhaps over a couple of old newspapers to catch overflows and drips. Using a standard funnel, add 2 teaspoons of sugar into each of the 12 bottles.
With each bottle prepped with extra sweetness, go ahead and siphon your homemade beer into the bottles, while trying your best not to disturb the layer of sediments at the bottom of your carboy. Remember that you should try to pour the beer without agitating it or splashing it around because the oxygen created in doing so could lead to oxidation and hence, the infamous ‘cardboard’ taste in beer.
After pouring all of your beer in those bottles, you can screw on their caps tightly before inverting each bottle, one by one, to dissolve all the sugar at the bottom. Now before you and your loved ones can steal the first sip of your creation, you should let the bottles sit in a warm area for a few days or, alternatively, in a cool and dark spot. Trust us: your beer is going to improve with age.
Once you’re through a couple of batches of homemade beer, you will feel the need to experiment with a number of beer ‘enhancements’. All of these little additions add a personal touch to your home brew, however, we have always been of the opinion that, while experimenting, caution is a good idea. In other words, only try adding extra ingredients in small amounts first and then working your way up to the perfect taste.
Some of the most popular homemade beer enhancements include:
- Whole hops or hop flakes
- A cup or two of molasses
- A few licorice sticks
- 3 or 4 teabags of Apple Cinnamon Spice or Bengal Spice tea
- Replace hobs with a combination of your favorite herbs (caraway, aniseed, mugwort, nettle, juniper, yarrow, sweet gale and Labrador tea)
Our Final Thoughts
Your capped bottles will be ready for a private or social tasting with a ‘fizz’ that could last for up to 2 weeks! If you think your beer could do better with this fizz, then you could also do a 50/50 cut with your favorite commercial beer to up its game artificially and work out the kinks in your second batch.
Now that you’ve learned how to brew your own beer without a kit, all that is left to say is, “Here’s to staying positive and testing negative; bottom’s up!”