Chapter 1

A Crash Course in Brewing

Brew Day


Equipment Needed

Let's review the minimum equipment you will need for this first batch:

  • a 20 qt. brew pot (large canning pot)
  • large stirring spoon (non-wood)
  • ordinary tablespoon
  • measuring cup (preferably Pyrex glass)
  • glass jar (at least 12 oz)
  • fermentor (food-grade plastic bucket or glass carboy)
  • airlock (get from homebrew shop)
  • sanitizer (chlorine bleach or other)
  • thermometer (optional)


Cincinnati Pale Ale

Ingredients for a 5-gallon batch

  • 3-4 lb. Pale malt extract syrup, unhopped
  • 2 lb. Amber dry malt extract
  • 12 AAU of bittering hops (any variety) For example, 1 oz. of 12% AA Nugget, or 1.5 oz. of 8% AA Perle
  • 5 AAU of finishing hops (Cascade or other) For example, 1 oz. of 5% Cascade or 1.25 oz. of 4% Liberty
  • 2 packets of dried ale yeast


Preparation (45 Minutes)

1. Assemble ingredients. Gather together the ingredients for the brew. You may have purchased a brewing kit at the homebrew shop and it will contain the ingredients needed to brew a particular style of beer. A kit usually consists of malt extract, yeast, and hops. The extract may already be "hopped" and the kit may not include any hops.

If you don't have a kit, then head to a homebrew supply store and buy the ingredients outlined in the recipe here. You will notice that the recipe calls for various quantities of hops measured in AAUs. AAU stands for alpha-acid units. Briefly, an AAU is a unit obtained by multiplying the alpha-acid rating of the hop (a percentage value) by the weight (ounces) that you intend to use. For example, 2 oz of a 6% alpha-acid hop equals 12 AAUs. Every package of hops you buy will list the hop's alpha-acid rating. To figure out how much of a hop you will need for this recipe, just divide the AAU target by the alpha-acid percentage on your hops. For example, 12 AAUs divided by 12 (Nugget hop's alpha-acid rating) equals 1 oz; 12 AAUs divided by 8 (Perle hop's alpha rating) equals 1 1/2 oz. (See Chapter 5 - Hops, for more info.)

2. Boil water. You will need at least a gallon of sterile water for a variety of small tasks. Start by boiling about 1 gallon of water for 10 minutes and let it cool, covered, to room temperature.

Table 1 - Cleaning and Sanitizing Checklist

Brewpot __ Clean
Stirring Spoon __ Clean
Tablespoon __ Clean __ Sanitize
Measuring Cup __ Clean __ Sanitize
Yeast Starter Jar __ Clean __ Sanitize
Fermentor and Lid __ Clean __ Sanitize
Airlock __ Clean __ Sanitize
Thermometer __ Clean __ Sanitize

3. Clean and sanitize. It may seem strange to the first-time brewer, but probably the most important thing in brewing is good cleaning and sanitization. Clean all equipment that will be used during the brew with a mild, unscented dish detergent, making sure to rinse well. Some equipment will need to be sanitized for use after the boiling stage. You can easily make a simple sanitizing solution by filling the fermentor bucket with 5 gallons of water and adding 5 tablespoons of chlorine bleach (a concentration equivalent to 1 TBS/gallon, or 4 ml/L). Soak all items that need to be sanitized in this bucket for 20 minutes. After soaking, dump the sanitizing solution and pour in some of the pre-boiled water for a quick rinse to remove any excess sanitizer. Place the small spoon and the thermometer in the yeast starter jar and cover it with plastic wrap. Cover the fermenter with the lid to keep it clean. (See Chapter 2- Preparations, for more info,)

Making Wort- (1 1/2 Hours)

Now we begin the fun part of the work, creating the wort. Wort is what brewers call the sweet, amber liquid extracted from malted barley that the yeast will later ferment into beer.


4. Boil the brew water. In the brewpot, bring 2 gallons of water to a boil. Pour this water into the fermentor and leave it to cool. Now bring 3 gallons of water to boil in the brewpot. You will be boiling all of the extract in just 3 gallons and adding this concentrated wort to the water already in the fermentor to make the total 5 gallons. (See Chapter - Water for Extract Brewing, for more info.)

Note: If your beer kit includes some crushed specialty grain, you will need to steep that first before adding the extract. (See Chapter 13 - Steeping Specialty Grain, for more info.)


5. Rehydrate the dried yeast. Although many people skip this step with fair results, re-hydrating it assures the best results. While you are waiting for the brew water to boil, rehydrate two packets of dried ale yeast. Put 1 cup of warm (95-105°F, 35-40°C), preboiled water into your sanitized jar and stir in the yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and wait 15 minutes


Next, "proof" the yeast. Start by adding one teaspoon of malt extract or table sugar to a small amount of water (1/4 cup, for example) and boil it to sanitize. (A microwave oven is good for this step.) Allow the sugar solution to cool and then add it to the yeast jar. Cover and place in a warm area out of direct sunlight. Check after 30 minutes, it should be exhibiting some signs of activity - some foaming and/or churning. If it just seems to sit on the bottom of the jar, then it is probably dead. Repeat the rehydration procedure with more yeast. (See Chapter 6 - Yeast, for more info.)


6. Add malt extract. When the water in the brewpot is boiling, turn off the stove and stir in the malt extract. Be sure the extract is completely dissolved (if your malt extract is the dry variety, make sure there are no clumps; if the extract is syrup, make sure that none is stuck to the bottom of the pot). Next, turn the heat back on and resume the boil. Stir the wort regularly during the boil to be sure that it doesn't scorch.

7. Add hops. If you are using unhopped extract, add the first (bittering) hop addition and begin timing the hour-long boil.(See Chapter 5 - Hops for more info.)


8. Watch for boilovers. As the wort boils, foam will form on the surface. This foam will persist until the wort goes through the "hot break" stage . The wort will easily boil over during this foaming stage, so stay close by and stir frequently . Blow on it and turn the heat down if it begins to boil over. Put a few copper pennies into the pot to help prevent boilovers.(See Chapter 7 - Boiling and Cooling for more info.)

9. Add finishing hops (optional). If you are using unhopped malt extract or want to add more character to hopped extract, add finishing hops during the last 15 minutes of the hour-long boil. (See Chapter 5 - Hops for more info.)

10. Shut down the boil. The boil time for extract beers depends on two things: waiting for the "hot break" (See Step 8) and boiling for hop additions. In a nutshell, if you are using hopped extract without any added hops then you only need to boil through the hot break stage, about 15 minutes. With some extracts, the hot break will be very weak, and you may have little foam to begin with. If you are using hopped extract but adding flavoring or aroma hops, then you will probably want to boil for 30 minutes. If you are using unhopped extract, then you will need to add hops for bittering and should boil for an hour. (See Chapter 3 - Malt Extract and Beer Kits, Chapter 5 - Hops, and Chapter 7 - Boiling and Cooling, for more info.)


11. Cool the wort. After the boil, the wort must be cooled to yeast pitching temperature (65-90 °F [18-32 °C]) as quickly as possible. To do this, immerse the pot in a cold water bath. A sink, bathtub, or a handy snowbank all work well. Be sure to keep the lid on the pot while cooling to prevent any cooling water or other potential contaminants from getting in.(See Chapter 7 - Boiling and Cooling, for more info.)