How to brew a beer: the process
To start brewing beer at home you need to be calm and patient. Following all the recommended steps is never enough to have a satisfactory result, experience is essential.
Making beer at home is a serious matter: take it philosophically! The brewing process takes many hours and it can happen that the result is negative. Keep in mind that some batches will be thrown away for various reasons: bad fermentation, infections, off flavors, etc…
This quick guide explains the basic steps to make an All Grain beer.
The first step is the grinding of the malt: it is done with a mill in which the malt grains are crushed / broken but not too finely to become flour. Remember: only crushed.
Read our article on how to perfectly mill grains
There are different types of mills, manual and automatic, large and small. The right choice depends on your needs. You can initially ask your supplier to grind the grains on your own.
The preparation of beer comes to life with mashing, also known as Mash.
This is the step in which the starches contained in the malt are transformed into more or less fermentable sugars.
The malt is poured into the cooking pot or mashing vat where, when mixed with water, it begins to turn into wort by the action of different enzymes that act at specific temperatures that you choose during mashing. This will define the fermentability of the sugars that will make up your wort.
- at a temperature of about 50 ° C proteases degrade proteins into peptides and amino acids
- at 60-66 ° C beta amylases transform starch into maltose
- at 67-72 ° C alpha amylases convert starch into more or less complex sugars including dextrins, which are not fermented by yeast, contributing to the body of the beer
- Mashing stops at a temperature of 76-78 ° C, the so-called: Mash out.
At this point we can proceed with the next step, it's time to filter and sparge.
Open the pot faucet slightly and let the wort flow into the boil pot. Gradually add warm water (76-78° C) as soon as you start to see spent grains. This process is particularly essential for rinsing spent grains and taking out any residual sugars that are still there. Perform this step slowly and carefully until you have reached the right liters in the boiling pot.
Now we have our wort in the pot with no more solid parts. This liquid is now a sugar concentrate. Let's start the boiling process.
Boiling can last 60 or 90 minutes, depending on the recipe, hops schedule and the density of the wort.
The function of the hops in this step is to add aromas and make the wort bitter.
We have to use different qualities and quantities of hops depending on the style of beer we want to brew.
The alpha acids (AA) will be released into the wort by the hops during the infusion time. It means that the hops added at the beginning of boiling will give the bitterness while those added at the end will give the aroma.
The large assortment of hops supplied by the market means that we can create beers with the most varied flavors and aromas, for example from grapefruit to pine.
Now our wort is sweet, bitter and sterilized. The next step is to cool the wort as quickly as possible and transfer it to the fermenter when the temperature is about 20-25°C or in any case at the ideal fermentation temperature of the yeast you want to use.
In the fermenter the wort must be oxygenated using a spoon, shaking the fermenter, using a stone or with a cylinder of pure oxygen. There are several ways to add oxygen into the wort, choose the ones you prefer but remember that it is an important and essential step because oxygen is necessary for the yeast to ferment the wort.
When the wort is oxygenated and at the right temperature then it's time to inoculate the yeast.
Now your brewday is over. You just have to clean your equipment and wait for the fermentation starts. Good luck!