Is it possible to brew your own beer without those fancy kits? Yes! People were enjoying fermented beverages some 12,000 years ago. They sure didn’t have the brewing kits that are available these days.
In this post, I’m going to teach you how to brew beer at home without a kit. We’ll go over what you need and how to go about the entire process.
The Supplies You’ll Need
All of your homebrewing equipment shouldn’t cost you any more than $50. However, that might not include the price of bottles and advanced equipment.
I suggest playing the role of a savvy homebrewer and hunting around for the best deals you can get your hands on. You might even have some of this stuff lying around the house!
So, what would be the difference if you didn’t get one of those kits that provide you with the necessities to brew a small batch of beer?
The volume of the batch is the main distinction between utilizing a homebrewing kit and coming up with your own.
Since homebrewing takes a lot of time, most brewers produce about 20L of beer at a time.
The typical batch size for homebrewing kits is less than 10L, which is barely enough for sharing.
Beyond an airlock and an auto-siphon, you probably don’t need any special equipment if you only want to experiment with a tiny volume of beer—say, 5L.
The equipment needed to make beer at home is listed below. If you have these, then you’re pretty much set to make hard cider, wine, or beer.
Your equipment’s cleanliness will be critical to your brew’s outcome. After the beer has been boiled, everything that comes in contact with it needs to be cleaned. So, sanitize, sanitize, sanitize!
Naturally, this vessel will dictate the amount of beer you can brew at a time. If you want to brew 20L of beer, you’ll need a 22L pot.
If you have a canner in your kitchen, you can tick this off your list.
Airlocks and Carboys
If you are serious about creating alcoholic beverages, airlocks are crucial. The good news is that they’re reasonably priced at around $2 each.
The CO2 can escape through an airlock while the surrounding area remains sterile.
Since cylindrical airlocks are simpler to maintain than S-shaped airlocks, I advise getting these.
Simply check that the lip of your fermentation container can accommodate your airlock with a tight fit.
If you’re only interested in making large batches of beer, you might want to get a carboy instead.
Tubes and Siphons
A siphon you can use for food can be used to transfer liquid between carboys. They are helpful for both bottling and sediment filtration. An auto-siphon is a good investment because it’s simple to use and only costs around $25.
The following supplies are useful if you intend to make a lot of beer or you kind of already know what you’re doing. However, if you’re simply giving it your first shot, you can skip these items.
A hydrometer shows the quantity of sugar in your beer before and after fermentation. This is to determine an estimate of the amount of alcohol in your beer. The drop in sugar levels implies the presence of alcohol.
The risk of contamination rises if you are brewing a higher volume of beer because it can take SO LONG to cool down.
Therefore, it’s crucial to cool your wort down as soon as possible.
You can pass cold water through a copper pipe that is buried in the proto-beer pot. You can do so with a copper wort chiller that is connected to your sink.
You’ll need a mash tun for whole grain brewing. In order to activate the enzymes that will transform the starches into simple sugars, you have to keep your grain heated for 60-90 minutes.
You don’t really need to buy this item. You can attach a spigot to the bottom of the cooler instead.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
As you might have guessed, beer is mostly water. Using bad-tasting tap water should be avoided even though you don’t need to use distilled water either.
I don’t advise using bottled water for fermenting unless your tap water is hazardous to drink.
In actuality, a majority of bottled water is merely municipal tap water. To get your water ready for brewing, simply dechlorinate it.
Malted Grain or Malt Extract
When yeast consumes grain sugars, that’s when the magic happens. Grain contains a lot of complex carbs in its unprocessed state.
It must be malted in order to transform it into simple sugars that the yeast can consume. Malt can be obtained for homebrewing in two different ways: malted grain and malt extract.
Malted barley is typically used to make beer because it naturally contains a large amount of starch.
It also contains the enzymes and proteins needed to feed the yeast and the starch-to-sugar conversion “machinery.”
Barley husks are also ideal for filtering the wort. Wheat, corn, rye, and oats can also be used to make beer.
The steps in the process of malting grain are as follows:
1. Let a rootlet the same size as the original grain grow by sprouting the grain.
2. By this time, the enzymes needed to transform the storage starches into simple sugars have been activated by the grain.
3. Heat the grains to keep them from growing any further.
4. Dry the grains and toast them for optimal flavor.
People use malt extract to eliminate the need to separate the wort from the malted grains.
It is available in two forms: dry malt extract and liquid malt extract.
Before you buy your malt extract, I suggest checking your recipe and what specific type of malt extract it calls for. I emphasize this because they are not easily interchangeable.
Commercial malt extracts are more convenient to use than homemade. However, your finished beer will probably have that homemade beer taste. Simply put, it’s inferior to creating your own wort.
The problem is making enough wort at home can be pretty tricky. You’ll have to hit the right malt concentration for a black beer.
Therefore, combining malt extract with malted grain is a simpler and tastier option.
Historically, only wild yeasts were used to produce alcohol. However, its regional variations and people’s capacity to produce them dictate the quality of its resulting beer.
Plus, wild yeasts don’t work well with stronger beverages because they tend to lose potency at 5% ABV.
Of course, people have made brewing advancements over the years. To produce beer, wine, and other beverages, particular yeast strains have been bred over time.
Each strain has been chosen to ferment at a specific temperature and will affect how your beer tastes.
The cone-shaped blossoms on a hop vine are known as hops used in beer. They serve as a preservative and flavoring.
They can also be added at various points while the beer is being brewed for different effects.
If you add hops while the beer is boiling, it’ll add a distinct bitterness. If you add it during the secondary fermentation process, it’ll add a pleasant vegetal taste.
There are numerous different types of hops, and each one gives the beer a distinct taste. They are available as pellets online or at your neighborhood brew store.
There are two main reasons why sugars are added to beer:
- To increase the beer’s alcohol content without adding more wort
Extra wort would result in a dark beer (stout) with more alcohol since wort provides the beer with the sugar it needs to produce alcohol. You must add sugar if you want a light beer with a higher alcohol percentage.
- To finish the brewing process by adding carbonation to the beverage
The flavor of the beer will vary depending on the type of sugar used. For example, maple syrup and honey will taste different.
If you want a pure brew without added flavoring, I recommend using dextrose. It’s inexpensive and doesn’t alter the taste of beer at all.
Irish moss is a seaweed that can be purchased dry or in a powdered form. For the final 20 minutes of boiling, the moss is added to help the beer get clearer.
It makes the wort’s proteins cluster up and sink to the bottom of the boiling kettle, where they can be filtered away.
Flavorings (Extra Ingredient)
You can flavor your worst as it’s being boiled. You can only do so at this step to minimize the chance that they will infect the beer with unwelcome yeasts and germs.
What sorts of things can you add, you ask? Go nuts! You can try different spices, dried fruit, vanilla beans, coffee, and cocoa nibs.
When you transition your beer to the secondary fermentation process, you can also add flavors.
To prevent contamination, just be sure to wash any additives during this phase. Although there is a risk, in most cases, the alcohol content will be high enough to prevent contamination of the beer.
Brighter flavors like berries, fresh fruit, and herbs work best with secondary fermentation.
How To Brew Beer At Home Without A Kit: The Step-by-step Process
Now that you have everything you need, let’s get down to the steps to making your own home brew!
It is always prudent to begin the beer-making process by sanitizing. The last thing you want is to produce beer that tastes like dishwater.
2. Prepare the wort.
You can simplify the brewing process if you’re only malt extract. Skip this step and just add the malt extract to the boiling pot and continue from there.
If you’re up for the challenge, I suggest putting effort into preparing your own wort because wholegrain beer is just on another level.
As an alternative, you can also make an all-grain beer using a combination of whole grains and malt extract, which is typically less expensive.
The wort needs to be prepared in two steps:
- Heat the mash.
Depending on the recipe, the malted grain should be submerged in water at a temperature of approximately 150°F (67°C) for 60 minutes.
As a result, the complex storage starches in the grains are activated by the enzymes. These starches are then converted into simple sugars that the yeast will consume.
The technique of thoroughly rinsing the malted grain to remove all of the wort is known as sparging.
It’s time to drain the wort once the mash has been allowed to rest for 60 minutes. Drain all of the wort into your boiling pot by opening the valve at the bottom of the mash tun.
Depending on your recipe and how much water you’ve previously used, heat the sparging water to 170F/77C. As you continue to drain the wort into the boiling kettle, pour the hot water through the mash tun.
Heat up the wort until it boils, then continue on for 90 minutes. As directed by the recipe, hops and Irish moss can be added to the boiling liquid.
Hops aid in flavor development, so it is typically added multiple times throughout the boil.
Tip: While some people simply add the hops to their boiling pot, try using a mesh bag so that you won’t need to filter it out afterward.
Probably the most challenging step in making beer is chilling the wort.
After the wort has finished boiling, it must be cooled to about 70°F (21°C) before the yeast is added. Avoid the temptation to add the yeast early since you might ruin the brew.
Additionally, it’s critical to rapidly freeze the wort (a few hours) in order to stop wild yeasts and bacteria from invading your beer and converting it into something unpleasant.
The wort can be cooled in two ways:
- Use a wort chiller.
- Carefully place the boiling pot in an ice-filled bathtub.
5. Pitch the yeast.
If you want to know the final ABV, remove some of the wort after it has cooled. Then use a hydrometer to determine its original gravity.
Prior to pitching the yeast, sterilize the yeast package, the mixing spoon, and EVERYTHING ELSE that will touch the brew going forward!
The cool wort will then receive the yeast. Give it a good mix. The objective is to introduce some oxygen for the yeast into the wort.
Transfer the beer into carboys using an auto-siphon from the boiling pot. Since the beer will bubble extensively throughout the fermentation process, leave plenty of headroom in your carboys.
The carboys should be sealed with airlocks and kept somewhere dark and reasonably cool (67F / 19C) for 10 to 14 days.
Please refer to the instructions on your packaging for the precise temperature range and time requirements for your yeast.
7. Dry hop.
If your specific recipe specifies dry hopping, hops must be added to the beer after primary fermentation is complete.
The final infusion of hops serves as a preservative and flavor enhancer. It will produce a tasty, hopped beer.
Rack the beer into a fresh carboy to dry hop. Add the hops, then airlock-cap the container. Give it a week or two more to sit so the hops can dissolve and settle to the bottom.
After 2-4 weeks in the carboy, the beer is done. The yeast will then finish consuming all of the sugars.
The beer will be flat, though. Prior to bottling, more sugar is added to the beer to carbonate it. This will carbonate the beer bottles and provide food for the surviving yeasts.
The residual sludge in the bottom of the carboys should be left behind before racking the beer back into a sterile boiling pot.
Before bottling, combine dextrose with the entire batch of beer. This guarantees that the dextrose is incorporated evenly.
At this phase, you can use your hydrometer again to determine the final ABV.
Beer must be packaged in capped beer bottles, swing-top bottles, or plastic bottles made to withstand carbonation. Your brew will keep developing carbonation over time.
Pour the beer into bottles with the auto-siphon, allowing about 1.5 inches (3 cm) of headspace at the top.
Put a cap on your beer and keep it for another two to four weeks in a cold, dark place. After all that wait time, test if it’s ready by cracking open one bottle.
Try to consume your homebrew in three to four months. Please note that the beer is shelf-stable, but it doesn’t have any preservatives.
Related Reading: Does Beer Make You Fart? – Find Out Here
There you have it! That’s basically what it takes to make beer at home. Having a homebrewing kit is convenient, but there’s nothing stopping you from sourcing all the materials yourself.
You can save some money in the process, and you’re likely to learn a thing or two as you go through the brewing.
Please note that brewing can be a messy process. So, maintaining cleanliness not only keeps everything organized but also helps preserve and improve the quality of your homebrew. Cheers!