Beginners Guide to Beer Making

Let's look at the equipment we are going to need to make our own beer. We are going to assume we will be doing 40 pints.

  • 1 x Airlock for the above if necessary (comes with 30 litre bucket as standard
  • Either:
    • 23 x One Litre Pet bottles with suitable tops
    • 40 x One Pint Glass Bottles plus 40 Crown Caps (& 1 x Capping Machine to put the caps on)

What Space Do I Need?

We need two areas one for fermenting the beer and then one for storing and serving the beer. A barrel/bucket will take up approx 300mm x 300mm. This is all the space that will be taken up.

What Temperature Do I Want?

The fermenting temperature needs to be 20-27°C (70 to 82°F). It’s much better to have a lower temperature that is constant than a higher temperature which is fluctuating. Airing cupboards are definitely no go areas. If you are struggling to find an area that is the right temperature then you can buy a choice of heating equipment. Available is a thermostatically controlled immersion heater, a brewbelt (this wraps around the container) or a heat tray (that the container sits on). When you are storing the beer this wants to be at a cool temperature.

How Do We Make The Beer?

We should read the instructions on the beer kit but as most use the same methods I will give an overall view.

First thing is we must sterilise all the equipment that comes into contact with the liquid. This along with temperature is the two most important things in beer or wine making. Poor sterilisation will lead to infections which will contaminate the beer and turn it to vinegar. A good Cleaner/Steriliser is needed and this will also get rid of stains in your equipment. Don’t use bleach as this always seems to leave an after taste irrespective of how much you wash it out with clean water. The steriliser will always tell you to wash afterwards with clean water.

The instructions on the beer kit will tell you:

  1. Empty the can of malt into the brewing bucket. This is normally best done by immersing the can in hot water to soften the malt which makes it easier to pour out. Then rinse the can with hot water to remove any remains.
  2. Depending on which kit you are making it might be necessary to add some Brewing or granulated Sugar. The best kits will be all malt and wont need any additional sugar.
  3. Top up the volume with water. This should be designed to give a final temperature reading in the bucket of around 25°C. Stir the mix well.
  4. Add the sachet of yeast to the bucket, stir again and then replace the lid (with an airlock filled half full with clean water if it’s needed). Leave in a warm place with an ambient temperature of 21-27°C for around 5-7 days. Fermentation will be slightly longer if the temperature is cooler and slightly quicker if it’s warmer. Speed however is not a good thing. If the airlock is bubbling like mad then the chances are the room is too warm.
  5. When the gravity has reached around 1010 depending on the type of beer being made (a hydrometer will give you this reading) and the bubbles have stopped you will know the fermentation is complete. Siphon the beer from the bucket into bottles or your barrel. These should have some priming sugar added (this is just sugar dissolved in water) as per the instructions. Additional hop extract, creamy top (to improve the head retention) or finings (which can speed up the clearing process) can also be added now. The bottles/barrel should then be sealed and transferred to a warm place. This will then cause a reaction with the yeast working the sugar to produce gas. This will provide the necessary carbonation in your brew to create a head.
  6. After 2-3 days move the barrel/bottles from the warm place into a cold place which will allow the clearing process to take place. Barrels should be placed in an area where they will not have to be moved again (if this is necessary it will disturb the sediment). This will take anything from a week to four weeks. Bottles will clear quicker than a barrel.
  7. You beer will now be ready to be sampled. If you have used a barrel it might be necessary to take of the first half pint and discard this as sediment will build up behind the tap. If using bottles then pour off gently into an appropriate glass or jug. Once you start the pouring process don’t stop as this will cause the sediment to be disturbed. Barrel might need additional gas which can be bought separately.
  8. Get your next brew on as quickly as possible. The beer will improve with keeping and kept under the right conditions will last for over 6 months.

How Much Will It Cost?

If you've made it this far, then you'll want to know how much it will cost to get started! Well, we've put together a couple of beginners kits which include everything you need, and take the confusion out of buying.

Our beginners beer making kits start at as little as £54, which include everything you need to make 40 pints of beer.