Making Your First Batch of Homebrew… In 25 Steps

One of my friends at work wants to start homebrewing, so I made up this beginner’s instruction sheet for him. I figured I’d share it with all of the internets, in case anyone out there is looking for an easy way to get into homebrewing.



What You’ll Need on Brew Day:

  • One five gallon pot
  • 2 pounds Amber DME
  • 2 pounds Bavarian Wheat DME
  • 1 oz Hallertauer hop pellets
  • 1 11.5-gram packet Danstar Munich dry yeast
  • 1 6.5-gallon Ale Pail with locking lid and spigot
  • 1 3-piece airlock
  • 2 large bags of ice from the grocery store
  • Clean out your kitchen sink, so it’s empty. You’ll need to use your sink for an ice bath to cool the wort after it’s done boiling.
  • 1 1-gallon jug of distilled water
  • Bottle of Star San concentrate
  • Scissors
  1. Dump out a splash of the distilled water from the jug. Add ¼ oz Star San concentrate to the distilled water. Cap, and spin the bottle until the concentrate dissolves in the water. This will be your sanitizer solution.
  2. Collect 4 gallons of cold tap water in a five-gallon (20 qt) pot and heat on the stove on high.
  3. While the water is coming to a boil, measure out 0.60 oz of the hallertauer hops, and set aside.
  4. Pour both bags of Amber dried malt extract (DME) into the heating water and use a whisk to dissolve the DME into the water. This makes the water into “wort”… since it now contains the grain’s sugars, which will be fermented into beer.
  5. Bring the wort to a boil. Watch out for boil overs as the wort comes to a full boil… if you see a boil over starting to happen, take the pot off the heat, let the foam subside, and put it back on the heat… alternatively, squirt the foam with a spray bottle of water (if you have one around).
  6. Once the wort comes to a rolling boil (not a super strong boil… we’re not trying to splatter the wort all over the place, but enough so that it is rolling), wait for any foam on the surface to subside. This is called the “hot break”.
  7. After the hot break, set a 60-minute timer. Add the 0.60 oz of hallertauer hops and start the timer. Stir the hops in, and make sure the wort doesn’t boil over as the hops are added.
  8. Pour both bags of the Wheat DME into a clean, dry mixing bowl, and set aside.
  9. Let the wort boil for 55 minutes (there should be 5 minutes left on the timer)…and pour in the Wheat DME. Be careful, because the steam will want to clump the DME. If you want, you can splash a little of the hot wort into the bowl to dissolve any clumps. Just be careful… obviously it’s boiling hot.
  10. While the wort is still boiling, attach the brewmometer to the side of the pot so it’s sticking in the wort without touching the bottom or sides of the brew pot. The boiling wort will sterilize the thermometer.
  11. Once the timer is done, cover the pot with the lid.
  12. You want to put your covered pot of wort in your plugged kitchen sink. Fill your sink with cold water around the pot. Every few minutes, take out the pot, and let the warm bath water drain out. Repeat with fresh, cold tap water until the wort has cooled to 100°F. Once the wort has cooled to 100°F, add ice to the bath water and continue to cool the wort to 70°F.
  13. Once the wort has cooled, ANYHTINGthat comes in any sort of contact with the wort or beer must be sanitized… or you could get and infection. Infected beer will either taste a little off, or so much mold and bacteria could grow in the beer that the beer will have to be dumped. The good news is that nothing can grow in beer that could kill you… but something nasty could give you some bad digestive issues. Once the beer begins to ferment, you’re MOSTLY out of the infection danger zone, as the alcohol and the hop acids will prevent anything nasty from growing, but you still need to be careful.
    1. While the wort is cooling, sanitize your bucket, lid, spigot, and airlock using your Star San formula. Add the Star San to the bucket, put on the lid and shake and spin the bucket so the Star San comes in contact with all the interior surfaces of the bucket. Foam is ok. Using a funnel, pour the Star San out of the bucket and back into the gallon jug. Until right before you pour in the wort, keep the lid over the bucket so no dust or anything settles in the bucket. Put the stopper and airlock pieces in a bowl and cover with Star San. Put a pair of scissors in the bowl of Star San, as well, and dip the packet of Munich yeast in the Star San so the outside gets sanitized.
  14. Once the wort has cooled to 70°F, take the pot out of the ice bath, and dry off as much of the water as you can (so it doesn’t drip into the fermenter). Take off the lid and CAREFULLY slowly pour the wort into the bucket. As you get to end of pouring in the wort, you’ll see some green crud at the bottom of the pot. Stop pouring before most of that crud gets in the fermenter. It’s ok if a little bit does, but leaving some of the wort behind is ok, so long as most of the crud stays behind, as well. You should pour in about 3 gallons of wort before you have to stop… that’s why we started with 4 gallons at the beginning… to account for a little bit of boil off, and for the little bit we’ve had to leave behind.
  15. Using the sanitized scissors, cut open the packet of Munich yeast. Sprinkle the dry yeast on the surface of the wort, making sure to avoid clumping the yeast particles… try to get an even layer. If not, that’s ok… you’ll still get beer.
  16. Completely snap on the lid, take the airlock pieces out of the sanitizer and reassemble the airlock. Insert the airlock into the grommet on the lid, making sure it’s sealed tightly. Carry the bucket to somewhere out of direct sunlight, in an area with a fairly constant room temperature… not in a closet on an exterior wall… somewhere with an ambient room temp of around 65-70°F… where no one (or no curious chocolate labs) will bother it. Once you have the bucket where you’re going to leave it, add water to the airlock up the little line.
  17. After 12-24(ish) hours, you should see the airlock “bubbling”… that means the yeast are fermenting the beer. GREAT SUCCESS!
    1. Let the beer ferment for two weeks… keep the temp constant… any changes in temperature can “shock” the yeast and they’ll stop fermenting before they should. The bubbling in the airlock will slow down and stop after a few days. This means that “primary” fermentation is over, but you need to let the beer ferment for the full two weeks. Check the fermenter daily to make sure the water in the airlock stays at the little line… don’t let it dry out.
    2. Spend the two weeks collecting green plastic soda bottles. I go to Shop N Save and get the 7UP bottles on sale, then dump out the pop, rinse out the bottle, and save them. You’ll need about 20 16.9-fl oz bottles.
  18. After two weeks, you’re ready to bottle your beer. Get your bottles together, and using the gallon jug of Star San, completely fill up a bottle with sanitizer solution. Pour the solution from that bottle into the next bottle… then pour that solution into the next bottle… and so on until you’ve sanitized all the bottles. Doing this minimizes the amount of foam left behind in each bottle. Foam is ok… but too much can be bad. If you have any bottles with excessive amounts of foam, let them drain as much as possible. Put the soda bottle caps in a bowl and cover with solution so they get sanitized, as well.
  19. Using a small funnel, add 1 ¼ teaspoons of granulated white sugar to each sanitized bottle. Be careful not to add two doses of sugar to one bottle, or miss adding sugar to a bottle.
  20. Put a glass sunder the spigot of the bucket, open it up, and drain out beer until it runs mostly clear to avoid getting too much trub (pronounced “troob”… the yeast and the crud at the bottom of the fermenter) into the bottles.
  21. Using the spigot on the bucket, fill each bottle to about an inch below the neck. You want to leave a little bit of headspace. Make sure to not aerate the beer… use the “tip and let it run down the side” method when you fill the bottles, like when you pour a pint of draft beer. Try not to let it splash or run in so quickly that bubbles form… this could oxidize the beer and make it taste a little funny later.
  22. Fill up bottles until the beer in the fermenter mostly runs out… you should get anywhere between 15 and 20 bottles. Once the trub starts running out again, you should think about finishing up the bottling. If you have a leftover bottle that is not completely full, discard that bottle… it could explode. Just dump it, and chalk it up as “one for you hommies”.
  23. Tightly cap the bottles. Put the bottles in picnic cooler, if you have one. If not, a storage tote will work… just in case any bottles decide to turn into bottle bombs. The yeast will eat the sugar and produce CO2, which will carbonate the beer since it’s in a closed container. Label each bottle (I use blue painter’s tape) with the beer’s name, and the date you bottled it.
  24. Let the beer carbonate for two weeks at room temperature. The bottles should get ROCK hard.
  25. After the beer has carbonated for two weeks, wait another two weeks and let the beer age a little bit. It’ll make the taste more better. Go ahead and try one if you get impatient, but the longer you wait, the better it’ll taste. If you can, the beer should spend these two weeks of conditioning in the fridge. If not, leave them at room temperature and just put the bottles in the fridge for at least two days before you drink them.

Home Brew Shop Shopping List:

  • 2 1-lb bags of Amber Dried Malt Extract (DME)
  • 2 1-lb bags of Wheat DME
  • 1 oz hallertauer hops
  • 1 11.5-gram packet Danstar Munich dry yeast
  • 1 6.5-gallon Ale Pail with lid (the lid should have a small rubber grommet in it)
  • 1 plastic spigot for the bucket
  • 1 three-piece airlock
  • 1 8-oz bottle of Star San

Grocery Store Shopping List:

  • 2 large bags of ice
  • 1 1-gallon jug of distilled water

When it’s done, it’ll look like this…

And for those visual learners, a few episodes of Brewing TV will help you get an idea of what in the frick I am talking about…


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