Brew day is the main event of home brewing, and it’s important that it goes according to plan.
Over time I’ve developed a brew day checklist of things to prepare in advance, things that help the event run as smoothly as possible.
OK, before anything else let’s get straight to the before brew day checklist:
Click here if you prefer to view or download the brew day checklist as a pdf.
Continue reading to find out why I check these things.
The Day Before Brew Day
Time in brewing moves more slowly than in many other hobbies, and beer making is a long process which begins at least the day before you actually brew.
These are some of the tasks that you’ll need to do in preparation:
It’s important to quickly chill the wort after boiling to shock out some of the proteins.
This process is known as the cold break. It’s one of the things that contributes to clear beer, so if you’re after perfection in this area cool the beer as quickly as possible.
I, like many home brewers, use a bathtub filled with cold water as a heat sink, putting the brew pot straight in after the boil.
During my first brew I relied purely on tap water topped up with ice cubes. As soon as the 100°C brew pot entered the tub the ice melted and the water was soon at a comfortable temperature for a bath.
The beer cooled very slowly.
Nowadays I use the more substantial solution of frozen water bottles. These chill the bathwater efficiently and are sufficiently big to remain as ice throughout the (now much faster) cooling process.
Doing this will give you better beer and a shorter brew day.
This is fairly self-explanatory, not to mention obvious, but surprisingly easy to overlook.
Check that you have all of the ingredients for whichever home brew recipe you’re planning. You don’t want to find out after you’ve got twenty litres of wort on the boil that you forgot to buy the bittering hops.
Also make sure that you’ve got plenty of sanitiser.
If you live in an area with heavily chlorinated water, prepare your brew water in advance to let any chlorine to evaporate off.
This will produce a cleaner beer without a background chlorine flavour
Depending on your taste buds and the exact make up of water that you’re dealing with you may not notice the difference but, as with everything in home brewing, every small adjustment contributes to an overall improvement in the quality of your beer that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
It’a a good idea to check your equipment is ready for use, especially if it’s been a while since you brewed.
The two things to make sure of are whether everything is clean (it should be if you were careful when you finished your last batch of home brew) and whether anything has broken.
Especially check fragile items such as glass thermometers and hydrometers as these can easily break without you noticing.
On Brew Day : Before Starting
Boil Water For Yeast Starter
This advice is aimed at brewers using dried yeast.
Although some yeast packets or beer making instructions in general say it’s fine to sprinkle yeast directly into the wort, it’s preferable to rehydrate them before pitching.
It’s critical that the water used for rehydrating is free of bacteria and other sources of infection as it will be directly introduced to the cooled wort.
The best way of achieving this is to bring a pan of water to the boil for twenty minutes, before leaving it to cool (with the lid on). The yeast stand the best chance of survival if they’re approximately the same temperature as the beer when they’re introduced.
They can also be killed if they’re put into water that’s too hot.
Therefore, the yeast water should be one of the first things you prepare on brew day so that it’s near room temperature by the time you’re ready for it.
Clean Working Environment
Check that your work area is clean and free of obstacles. After you’ve started brewing is too late.
You will need a surface for ingredients and equipment, which should be cleaned and preferably sanitised. If you’re brewing in the kitchen it’s a good idea to wipe everything and clear out clutter so you’re free to move.
A clean tea towel is needed for miscellaneous drying of equipment, as well as a clean towel for your hands.
Once you start, regularly wash your hands with soap to keep them clean throughout the brewing process. This is especially important towards the end of the day when the wort is cool and ready for the yeast.
It’s best to prepare these in advance because, although brew day is long, much of the action is crammed into a few short minutes and you won’t have time to start hunting for missing kit.
If you don’t you’ll be tempted to use that old cloth that happens to be to hand, and you know what will happen to your beer then.
I also find it handy to to keep a small sanitised pot next to me for storing regularly used items.
Clean everything and make sure you have space to work before you start brewing.