How To Make Your Own Beer (The Satisfying And Easy Way)

There are as many different ways to brew as there are brewers. So many, in fact, that you may be wondering how to start.

For the benefit of any brewing newcomers, this post shares the way I brew at the moment. If I were to start over, this is what I’d do.

make your own beer

Before going any further I’m going to come clean.

One of the most popular pages on this site is the guide to brew in a bag (BIAB).

While that’s great news, I suspect it’s mainly read by people who already know what BIAB is.

With this article I want to show you beginners, or even experienced kit brewers, that with BIAB all grain brewing is within reach from the start.

I’ve deliberately not mentioned brew in a bag in the title to tempt you in.

That’s right. If you’re a beginner, don’t bother with a beer kit! Try brew in a bag instead.

What You’ll Find Out

If you stick with this to the end you’ll discover everything you need to know to make your own beer.

More importantly you’re going to see that from the start you can concoct your own beers from raw ingredients, with very little equipment that’s not already in your kitchen.

But first, what’s beer made of?

Brewing Ingredients

Nearly all beer contains four main ingredients:

Water
water for home brewing
By far the largest component of any beer, the water you use affects flavour, but for most purposes tap water is fine.

If it’s good enough to drink that is.

Malt

home brewing malt

The main event in beer making is called mashing. It’s where malted barley is soaked in water to produce a sugary liquid called wort.

Hops

homebrew hop

Wort is boiled with hops, a bitter flower.

As well as having a preservative effect, they add bitterness and flavour which compliment the sweeter malt.

Yeast

homebrewers yeast

You ferment the resulting liquid with yeast, which convert the malt sugars into alcohol and gas.

These are the four main ingredients. There may be more, depending on the beer.

Brewing Equipment

The first thing to do is assemble the brewing equipment.

Make beer at home: homebrew equipment you need

1. Brew Pot; 2. Small Saucepan; 3. Brew Bag; 4. Colander; 5. Measuring Jug; 6. Containers; 7. Fermenter; 8. Airlock; 9. Yeast Jar; 10. Scales; 11. Note Pad/Record Sheet; 12. Siphon; 13. Sieve; 14. Sanitiser; 15. Bottle Tops; 16. Empty Plastic Bottles; 17. Spray Bottle; 18. Beer Bottles; 19. Stirring Spoon; 20. Thermometer; 21. Hydrometer; 22. Bottling Brush; 23. Bottle Capper; 24. Hammer; 25. Scrubbing Brush.

To avoid an unwieldy and out of control article, I’m not going to go into any more detail on equipment.

If you need it, there’s more information here:
Home Brew Supplies : Complete Equipment List For Beginners

How To Make Your Own Beer

First choose a recipe for your first brew, nothing too complicated.

This English IPA will do, and is what I’ll refer to on the rest of this page.

Before Brew Day

Planning is important, and there are a couple of things to do the day before you brew.

1. Prepare Ice

fill ice bottles the night before brew day

Fill at least four plastic bottles with tap water and freeze them. You’ll see what they’re for later.

2. Prepare Water

fill brew pot with water

Fill your brew pot with 21 litres/5.5 gallons water. This gives approximately 15 litres/4 gallons of beer, as per the recipe.

Now’s also a good time to make sure you’ve got everything else ready.

Brew Day

Now comes the main event. Brew Day.

1. Heat Water

heat brew water

Cover the hob, everything except the heating ring, with foil. Sticky liquid runs down the brew pot and wrecks your oven if you’re not careful.

First thing on brew day turn on the heat.

Make sure you put the colander in beforehand to form a false bottom – it’s difficult to do when the water’s hot. This stops the malt from burning, when you add it.

2. Boil Water

boil water for yeast rehydration

In the small saucepan, boil a little water for twenty minutes and leave to cool to room temperature.

You need it later to rehydrate the yeast.

3. Prepare malt

weigh home brewing malt

While you’re waiting, get prepared. First, weigh out the malt.

4. Line Brew Pot

line brew in a bag pot

When the water in the brew pot reaches mash temperature (in this case 67°C/152°F) plus 1°, put the bag into the brew pot.

5. Add Malt

brewing your own beer : adding malt to brew pot

Gently pour in the malt.

Give it a light stir, just enough to wet the grain and break up any dough balls.

6. Cover and Mash

brewing your own beer mashing on a stove

Leave for the required mash time, 70 minutes in the IPA recipe.

Check the temperature every now and again and add more heat if necessary.

7. Remove Bag

remove malt bag from brew pot

Take the hot and heavy grain bag out and let it drain as much as you can stand.

Turn the heat back on and bring the wort to the boil.

8. Drain

drain wort out of brew bag

Meanwhile, put the wet bag into the fermenting bucket to drain. It helps to put a bowl in the bottom to raise the bag out of the liquid.

After the wort’s cooled a little, lightly squeeze the bag to get more liquid out.

9. Add Hops

add hops to beer when brewing your own beer

Once you’ve got a vigorous boil start adding the hops as indicated in the recipe.

Times are usually given counting down to the end of the boil.

Typically you add hops at the beginning for bittering, throwing in more at the end for flavour.

10. Prepare Fermenter

prepare fermenter by rinsing

By now you should have poured the extra wort from the fermenter into the brew pot.

Clean out any residue and rinse thoroughly.

11. Sanitise

sanitising home brew equipment

Now comes possibly the most important part of the day.

Fill the fermenter with cold water and 1 oz of Star San.

Throw in the airlock, your yeast jar and hydrometer. Put the lid on and leave for a couple of minutes – that’s all it takes.

12. Save Sanitiser

save sanitiser for use in home brewing

Empty the sanitiser from the fermenter.

Set some aside for bottling day by filling two or three plastic bottles, and the sprayer.

13. Fill Bath

bath of ice water for cold chill

Shortly before the end of the boil, fill your bath with cold water and add the ice bottles.

14. Cool Brew Pot

rapid cooling of brew pot

Put the brew pot, with the lid on, into the ice water.

Let it cool quickly to room temperature, moving the water round from time to time to speed things up.

15. Prepare the Yeast Jar

prepare yeast jar

While that’s happening, pour a little of your sanitised water into the jar. Leave twenty seconds and throw away.

16. Add Water

prepare yeast water prior to rehydration

Add around 200ml/6 oz of the water you boiled earlier in the day.

17. Add Yeast

add yeast to rehydrate

Sprinkle the dried yeast on top of the water and leave for ten minutes.

18. Swill

swill brewing yeast to ensure it's mixed in

Swirl the jar to mix the yeast with the water and leave a few more minutes.

19. Aerate the Wort

aerating wort while brewing beer at home

By now the wort’s cool. Pour it back and forth between the fermenter and the brew pot.

The idea’s to get a lot of oxygen in to help the yeast with the fermentation.

20. Pitch The Yeast

pitch yeast into fermenter

Throw the yeast into the fermenter.

21. Put The Lid On

swill fermenter to mix in yeast

Put the lid on and seal. Move it around to mix thoroughly.

22. Store and Ferment

store fermenter for fermentation

Fill the airlock with Star San and push it into the top of the fermenter.

Store the beer somewhere safe, at a constant temperature, to ferment. Around 20°C/70°F.

Leave for two weeks before bottling.

23. Clean

clean your home brewing equipment

Clean everything now. It’s a lot easier than when it’s dried stuck tomorrow.

Bottling Day

Before bottling, you add a little more sugar to the beer. The yeast ferment this inside the bottles, creating gas.

If you don’t do this, the beer will be flat.

1. Weigh Sugar

weighing out priming sugar

Weigh out sugar. Use this calculator to determine how much you need.

It’s around 65g/2.3 oz for the IPA.

2. Boil Sugar

boiling priming sugar

Boil the sugar for twenty minutes in 450ml water. Do this 3 or 4 hours beforehand so it’s cool when you need it.

3. Rinse Bottles

rinsing home brew bottles

Assemble your bottles and rinse, using the bottle brush to scrub inside if necessary.

Prepare two or three more than you think you need.

4. Sanitise Bottles

sanitise bottles before bottling home brew

Pour the sanitiser you reserved on brew day into two or three bottles. Leave 20 seconds. Then start pouring into the other bottles, topping up as necessary.

Keep going until all the bottles are done.

5. Line Up Bottles

Lining up home brew bottles before transferring beer

Put foil or cling film on the sanitised bottles and line them up on the floor.

6. Add Sugar

adding priming sugar to fermenter

Take the lid off the fermenter. Put it on a high surface and very gently pour in the cooled sugar solution.

Stir extremely carefully with your sanitised stirrer. Any oxygen mixed in now will damage the beer’s flavour.

7. Leave To Settle

leave fermenter to settle and priming sugar to disperse

Loosely replace the lid and wait twenty minutes, time for the sugar to mix evenly with the beer.

8. Prepare Siphoning Area

Now you’re going to siphon the beer into your bottles.

Put a pot of sanitiser on the work surface and an empty pot on the floor.

9. Clean Siphon

clean siphon with water

Run cold water through the siphon for a few minutes to rinse.

10. Sanitise Siphon

sanitise siphon with star san

Quickly put the racking cane into the pot of sanitiser. Don’t let the water out.

Press the bottling wand into the lower container to start the flow. Sanitiser will replace the water inside the tube.

When it’s full of sanitiser stop the flow and wait for at least twenty seconds.

11. Start Siphon

start flow of homemade beer through siphon

Quickly move the racking cane from the sanitiser to the beer. Insert it almost to the bottom, about 2cm clear.

Push the wand into the pot to restart the flow and this time wait for the tube to fill with beer.

12. Fill Bottles

fill bottles with beer

Now start filling, until there’s no more beer.

13. Sanitise Caps

sanitising beer bottle tops

Put the bottle tops in your pot and cover with sanitiser. Then pour into the colander to drain.

14. Cap Bottles

capping home brew bottles

Put a cap on a bottle. Hit with the capper and hammer until it grips snugly.

Repeat on all bottles.

15. Store/Condition

bottle conditioning home brewed beer

The beer needs to be stored in the bottles for two weeks, ideally a month (sorry). This improves flavour and clarity, and gives the yeast time to carbonate the beer.

16. Clean

cleaning equipment after making your own beer

Again, clean everything thoroughly now. It saves time later.

Drink The Beer

After all that waiting, crack open a beer and enjoy.

make your own beer, then drink it

That’s all there is to it. Good luck with your first batch!

Any questions, leave them below.

Cheers!

  • If you enjoyed this post, enter your email address to find out about future updates:


Comments...

  1. I love this. I’d love an all grain ‘non BIAB’ one for myself to use as a ‘checklist’.

    Also an extract one would be good for people to get into it.

    Great job though, thanks!

    • John

      Thanks!

      It’d be great to have one for each method – thanks for the suggestion.

      I’m gradually working my way through different aspects of home brewing, so eventually I’ll get there!

  2. Ethan

    Great site – I am new to home brewing, have been using a 1 gallon Brooklyn Beer kit in US, looking to up size. I am curious- It appears you bottle from your primary fermenter, and do you not use a separate bottling bucket or bottle from a secondary fermenter. Do you have have any quality issues with your trub/yeast/sediment/ getting in your bottles when bottling? Thanks.

    • John

      Hi Ethan, thanks for stopping by,

      Yes, I bottle straight from the primary and trub/debris isn’t really a problem. A little gets in but for me it’s more than acceptable, and it’s not excessive by anyone’s standards.

      The main reason I don’t use a bottling bucket though is to save space. With a bit more room, I would use one.

      It’s more convenient filling bottles from a tap, and it’s easier to mix in the priming sugar solution. Now I’ve got a system that works, but in the beginning I’d often have one flat beer next to one from the same batch that fizzed out of the bottle by itself.

      Hope that answers the question – Cheers!

  3. I love the images that you used to illustrate how to make beer. Are you working on anything for All Grain in the future, as the process involves a few more steps?
    Also- making this into a PDF would probably be extremely helpful

    • John

      Max,

      Thanks for the suggestions. I’d like to one day extend the series to include full all grain brewing but for now it’s just brew in a bag (which is a great all grain method anyway).

      Cheers!

      • Agreed. Partial mash is my favorite process and can yield exceptional, consistent brew.

  4. Just wanted leave a massive, massive thank you for going to the effort of sharing this whole process. I went and followed it perfectly (apart from different hops) and the result was beautiful. Now I’ve got the bug, and am pushing more and more brews. Thank you! (by far the best tutorial online for absolute experimental new peoples!)

    • John

      Thanks for coming back to leave a comment – I appreciate it.

      Glad the beer turned out OK too. Brewing’s definitely addictive, so enjoy it!

      Cheers!

  • Get email updates: