How to Brew a One Gallon Kit

Homebrewing is an age old hobby, passion, and way of life for thousands of people across the world. The ability to hand craft something as enjoyable as beer and share it with friends is second to none for those that share the addiction. Some of the caveats for "joining the club" are space, time, and cost. These limitations have unfortunately kept a countless number of people from joining us, and we aren't having that.

So to fill the void, share the love, and get people making the beer they deserve Homebrew Supply has created their first branded product, the Make Your Own Beer one gallon kit. With $44.95 in your pocket and the desire to make homebrew you can stop drinking store bought beer and begin enjoying true craft beer made from your own hands. If you want to know how the brew day works just keep reading...

An Overview Before We Start

one gallon beer kit Our one gallon beer kits come with everything you need to get started in making your own beer.

Beer is simple. In all seriousness it is. There are four main parts to making a one gallon kit and each one of them requires no more skill than you would see from someone boiling a pot of crawfish (no offense crawfish guys, I have a secret recipe too). The steps are as follows, and I will delve into each one of them in depth later in this article.

1. The Mash - Heating up water and soaking the grains in order to extract fermentable sugar. Your water is no longer water, it is now wort (unfermented beer).

2. The Boil - One the mash has ended you will bring the wort to a full boil and add your hops at times specified by the recipe. This bitters the beer and adds aroma.

3. Cooling - After the boil you need to cool down your wort before fermentation can begin. The main reason for this is that yeast can only thrive in certain temperature ranges.

4. Fermentation - Cooled wort is placed in your one gallon jug and yeast is pitched (poured) in as well. The yeast is going to eat the sugar made with your mash converting it to alcohol.

The Mash

mashAs I had just mentioned the mash is a process that turns your water into wort. In a very summarized explanation, there are enzymes activated in the grains that convert complex carbohydrates into simple sugars. These enzymes do a number of other things but this is the one that will give you the fermentable sugars needed to make beer.

The first step is to heat up approximately 2 gallons of water in a pot, using your floating thermometer check the temperature and turn off the heat when your water reaches 160F. A good rule of thumb is that the water should be 10F higher than your target mash temperature.

Once the water has reached 160F place your straining bag in the pot and begin pouring grain into the bag making sure to mix well with a large spoon. Grain has a horrible tendency to clump together so be sure to thoroughly stir and mix. The grain will cause the temperature to drop to your target mash temperature which is likely between 150-154F.

Let the mash rest, optionally stirring every 20 minutes, for 1 hour. Some recipes may call for a shorter or longer mash but 1 hour is a standard time that is used in the vast majority of homebrew recipes. If you have a lid to your kettle now would be the time to use it. It is best to keep the temperature of the mash as consistent as possible, and one option could even be to simply place the kettle in an oven to better insulate it.

The Boil

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So your mash is done, the 1 hour timer has rung, and its time to boil. You will need to pull out your straining bag and let what wort is still saturated in the grains drip out. Its essential to get as much of this wort as possible because the boil will cause a good amount of it to evaporate. Placing the grain bag in a bowl to collect even more wort you can now turn the heat back on and raise everything to a full boil.

Once the boil has begun you can start your hop schedule, this is simply a list of times that each separate amount of hops should be added to the boiling wort. Many recipes will have a 60 minute hop, this means that the hop is added at the beginning of the 1 hour boil. A 15 minute hop would be added 15 minutes before the 1 hour boil ends. Again, almost every homebrew recipe you are going to see will call for a 60 minute boil. But there are definitely recipes out there that call for less or more.

Be careful of boil overs. If you let the boil get out of control to the point where it bubbles up and over the edge of your kettle you will know why I stress this. Wort is sticky and it definitely doesn't make for the best mess to clean up. Its best to keep a spray bottle near that is filled with cold water, if you're in a bind and it looks like you are about to have a boil over just kill the heat and spray it with the water.

Cooling

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 3.15.43 PMCooling is important for many reasons. Each strain of yeast has a range of temperatures that they thrive best in, many of which do best just shy of 70F. In order for you to be able to pitch your yeast you have to get your wort down to this temperature. But why not wait and let it cool naturally? Good question. Because after the boil the wort is extremely susceptible to bacteria and other airborne bad guys that can infect and ruin your beer. Getting your wort out of "the warm zone" (140-80F) where these bacteria are most active greatly limits your chances of getting anything you may not want in your soon to be fermenting beer.

Another reason we want to cool our wort quickly is so that we can achieve a good cold break. Cold break is the term used by homebrewers for the material created by proteins precipitating from the wort, grouping together, and weighing to the bottom of the kettle which is induced by rapid cooling. This allows us to remove the material from our wort before we transfer to our jug. While cold break material may not be the end of the world it is definitely best to get rid of it if possible.

We recommend creating an ice bath in your sink or any other reasonable container and then placing your kettle in the batch until desired temperatures are reached. If you ever move to larger batches down the road you can look into cooper immersion or plate chillers.

Fermentation

ferm

Fermentation happens when yeast are able to consume the sugars created from your mash. By eating these sugars the yeast create many things, but the two that we care about the most are alcohol and carbon dioxide. Alcohol, well.. you know what it does, and carbon dioxide will be used to carbonate our beer when it comes time to bottle.

After the boil anything your wort touches needs to be sanitized. Please. Seriously. Sanitize everything! (the same reason we want to cool our wort quickly out of "the warm zone", bacteria wants nothing more than to ruin your homebrew)

After your wort is chilled to around 70-75F you can transfer from your kettle to your jug using the sanitized racking cane and tubing. An auto-siphon is a good optional upgrade if you want to spend a few extra dollars.

So the wort is now transferred, or racked as homebrewers call it, from your kettle to your jug. It is within 70-75F and you are ready to pitch your yeast. Before you do, give the jug a good shake in order to aerate the wort. Place your yeast package and whatever utensil you plan on using to cut the package open with in sanitizer. Fill your airlock up to the fill-line with sanitizer and place it into the bung. Now cut open your yeast package, pour approximately half of the package into the wort, and then fit the bung & airlock into the top of the jug.

Now the actual fermentation begins. Yeast are the healthiest and happiest in cool and dark environments. Place the jug in a dark area preferably 68F for the next 2-3 weeks. Once that time has passed you are now ready to bottle, carbonate, and enjoy the best beer of your life.

Conclusion

Making your own beer isn't difficult, expensive, time consuming, and it doesn't take up much space when using our one gallon kits (dont' forget to add in the bottling kit). Homebrew Supply has your full backing and is online, on the phone, and available by email to walk you through your first brew day.

Too long, didn't read? -

written by chris

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