By Jesse Collier. Updated May 2017.
Tired of paying outrageous amounts for beer at the store? Learn how to make your own beer with this comprehensive guide and save over $500 a year
You may think that brewing beer at home is what old people with no time on their hands or people who have enough money for a proper setup do.
However, more and more people (students too!) are turning to making their own beer as even cheap beer prices are on the rise.
Brewing beer at home could save you over $500 a year depending on how much you want to spend on start up materials and ingredients.
Ingredients are generally cheap (more on that below), and start up materials can be anywhere from $20 to over $200 depending on how sophisticated you want to get.
So you may still be asking yourself, “why would I spend money and put in work when I can just go to the store and buy my own beer?”.
Apart from saving over $500 a year by brewing beer, a bottle of home brewed beer typically costs about 75 cents once each batch is made. Brewing your own beer also lets you customize the taste to your liking.
So let’s get into the nitty-gritty on what you need to buy and prepare for your own home brewed beer!
If you are a complete beginner and have no idea where to start, I would recommend purchasing the kit to ensure you buy all of the materials and ingredients needed to brew your own beer. Purchasing the kit will also make sure no beer needs to be poured out due to contaminants.
Of course, you’re more than welcome to buy your own materials and ingredients, but having an all-in-one kit will keep it simple for your first couple brews.
However if you do have some inclination of how to get started, there’s many ways to go about it. Here’s a way we found works out well. You will need:
- a brewing bucket (as large as possible) – can also use a “carboy” (a large glass jug)
- a siphon hose
- a large pot (preferably more than 2 gallons or about 8 liters)
- about 65-70 bottles and caps (kits come with a capper for the bottle to keep the beer fresh)
- hydrometer (or thermometer)
- sanitizer (Tri-sodium Phosphate, Powder Brewery Wash, or One Step)
You can always reuse old beer bottles as well, as long as you sterilize them before putting your mixture in.
While there are tons of different recipes for home brewing beer, we found one that looks tasty and is easy to make:
- Malt extract – 40 oz can or 1.5kg can of the flavour that you like
- Yeast – 1 teaspoon (tsp)
- Sugar – 6-7 cups of regular white sugar or 8-9 cups of corn sugar (better for taste), consider using two cans of malt extract instead of sugar (again for taste)
These ingredients shouldn’t cost more than $20 and you can get them at your nearest beer making supply store or online.
How To Start Brewing Beer At Home
Once you have all the necessary ingredients and materials, you’re finally ready to start brewing beer! The whole process will take about 2-3 weeks, but it will be well worth it to taste your creation!
You want to sanitize your equipment because you don’t want any contaminants to make your beer smell and taste funky.
Make up a solution with warm water and a sanitizer, grab a scrub brush, and get to work sanitizing any surface you can reach.
After cleaning thoroughly, rinse with hot water and start brewing.
Sanitizing your equipment will also ensure you don’t run into problems later on in the process when bottling and fermenting your beer.
- Pour 10 liters (about 2.65 gallons) of cold water into your brewing bucket
- Bring 7 liters (about 1.85 gallons) to a boil in your large pot
- Add one can of the malt extract. Stir occasionally and cook for 20 minutes
- Add the sugar (or second can of malt extract) to the mixture. Stir and dissolve.
- Once the sugar is dissolved, pour the mixture into your brewing bucket.
- Pour some bottled water or tap water into the bucket until the mixture reaches room temperature. If you use tap water, make sure to boil it to get rid of any bacteria that may be present.
- Pour in the yeast, and stir well. Put the lid on the bucket, but not too tightly as the bucket can explode from too much carbon dioxide buildup.
Now we wait! Leave it for 6-10 days, depending on the room temperature and how much sugar you put in the mix. Don’t let the room get over 24 or below 16 degrees celsius. 16-20 degrees celsius is optimal, however it may take an extra day or two to ferment, but it will taste better.
To test your brew, if you have a hydrometer, now would be the time to break it out. Put the hydrometer into the beer and spin it once to repel any bubbles from sticking to it. The reading on the hydrometer should read about 1.010-1.015 for light beers and 1.008 for dark beers.
If you don’t have a hydrometer, take a taste! It shouldn’t be sweet. There should also be very little or no bubbles in your brew.
Bottle It Up!
In each of your bottles, put 2 teaspoons of sugar. Then use your siphon to draw the beer into your bottles. Try not to disturb the sediment at the bottom of the brewing bucket.
You can tip the bucket when you get close to the bucket to get the rest of the beer into the bottles. Try not to shake the beer bottles up too much when you re bottling because oxygen will cause a bad taste in the beer.
Do not fill the bottles up to the brim. Leave a pocket of air at the top. Screw the caps on tight, and shake the bottles to dissolve the sugar in them. You can store in a warm place for a few days, and then store in a cooler area.
Wait about a week to start drinking your beer. It will get better as it gets older, but keep in mind that it only has a shelf life of a few months.
Now that you know about brewing beer on your own, you can modify the process to suit your tastes! You will have to do some research on what kind of beer you want to make in future batches as most beers will need more specialized ingredients and different procedures.
You can also schedule different batches, so if you go through your bottles quickly, you can have the next batch ready to drink.
If we missed any steps, or if you have a recipe you would like to add, please let us know by commenting below!