Skip to main content

Stay Calm and Brew On: A Basic How-to

Mar 01, 2016 08:30AM ● Published by Jason Huddle

Stay Calm and Brew On: A Basic How-to

Craft beer is considered a specialty. Time and attention are given to creating a brew that can actually be sipped to appreciate all the flavors and nuances.

While a brewing kit isn’t an absolute necessity in making beer at home, it does provide the convenience of all-inclusive equipment that simplifies the process. Basic kits can be purchased through Macy’s, Target and Sears, but more sophisticated equipment is available online and in surrounding cities like Mooresville and Charlotte.

The four main ingredients needed to make beer are water, barley, hops and yeast. So let’s break them down.

Beer is 90 percent water and can dictate how your beer will taste, so if what is supplied to your home stops you from drinking it straight from the tap, it can be treated or purchased. Purified water is typically used to make beer. This is the first ingredient to go into the pot.

“All you really need is a cooking pot of some sort,” craftbeerathome.com says. “Generally you’ll want to go with a larger cooking pot so you can brew more beer with the same amount of time and effort. Either a five-, eight- or 10-gallon pot will do the trick.”

The boiling stage allows the ingredients to steep, releasing the flavors and sugars into the water. Homebrewacademy.com calls this “mashing” and they suggest letting the ingredients – which we’ll delve into next – steep for about an hour. This also kills microorganisms that might exist.

Barley is a cereal grain that is processed into malt (malted barley). The barley grains are allowed to germinate, then are dried or roasted. During the boiling stage, the malt’s starches are converted into sugars. Proteins also present in the malt break down into nitrogen compounds that impact color, texture, flavor and quality of the finished product.

“Give malt a lot of credit because it adds much more than just alcohol to beer. Flavor, aroma and body are all influenced by malt. Malt leaves traces that are generically summed up by an essence of sweetness,” according to homebrewacademy.com. “Malted barley is to beer what grapes are to wine. They give their sugars to the beer and leave a unique imprint on it.”

Next into the pot are the hops, the flowers of a tall, vine-like plant grown internationally but very commonly in the northwest U.S. They resemble little green pinecones and contain resins and oils that add bitterness, flavor and aroma to the beer. Boiling hops triggers the release of their flavor; timing is utilized to alter the sweet versus bitter. For example, if a brewer adds hops to the boil early, the beer will be more bitter. Other sugars and syrups may be added to the boil at this point.

Next comes the yeast, which “eats” the sugar and converts it into carbon dioxide and ethanol alcohol; the carbon dioxide escapes into the air while the alcohol remains in the beer. After the barley and hops have boiled for the recommended hour, the pot needs to be quickly cooled to about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Adding the yeast before this cooling point will kill it.

“Technically it is a fungus, invisible to the naked eye but nevertheless the magical ingredient that makes a beer a beer. Yeast also influences the final flavor, usually adding fruity and spicy notes,” says craftbeerathome.com.

Now your beer sits quietly for one to two weeks.

Clean and sanitized bottles are then needed for packaging. The website homebrewing.org provides specific steps in adding priming sugar and bottling the beer, including siphoning it from the bucket while leaving any sediment behind.

Bottles need to be filled to about one inch from the top – leaving headspace – then capped and left to age at room temperature for two to three weeks. This important stage creates carbonation: the bubbles and frothy head that appear in your mug when the beer is poured. And it may take some tweaking to get the carbonation right. The Homebrewers Association provides an outline of necessary equipment and important sanitation steps for making beer. Please refer to the sidebar and their website. There are also various websites with step-by-step brewing recipes; choose what works best for you.

Becoming proficient in making home brew takes practice and experimentation. Appearance, aroma, flavor and body will determine whether you prefer ales or lagers. Regardless, enjoy the process and, just as importantly, the beer.

Article By: Kim Cassell

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Cabarrus Magazine's free newsletter to catch every headline

In Print, Food+Drink Family Features Food Craft Beer How to brew your own beer homebrewing brewing kits
  • A VET TOGETHER

    10/24/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    • Join Cabarrus Veterans Coalition the first Tuesday of each month at Carm’s for free coffee and ...


  • A Cheese(y) Holiday Affair

    10/24/2017
    12:00PM — 02:00PM

    Tuesday, October 24, 12 Noon and 6:30PM * $3 NC Cooperative Extension, Cabarrus County Center...


  • Foundation Fashion Week

    10/24/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    The NorthEast Foundation is excited to announce the 37th annual Foundation Fashion Week will be h...


  • Thriller Dance Lessons

    10/24/2017
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Ever wanted to learn the King of Pop’s famous Thriller dance? Now’s your chance! Head over to the...


  • COOKSMART/EATSMART COOKING SCHOOL

    10/24/2017
    06:00PM — 08:30PM

    Thursday evenings, October 12,19,26 and November 2 * 6-8:30 p.m. * $50 NC Cooperative Extensi...


  • A Cheese(y) Holiday Affair

    10/24/2017
    06:30PM — 08:00PM

    Tuesday, October 24, 12 Noon and 6:30PM * $3 NC Cooperative Extension, Cabarrus County Center...


  • A Cheese(y) Holiday Affair

    10/25/2017
    12:00PM — 02:00PM

    Tuesday, October 24, 12 Noon and 6:30PM * $3 NC Cooperative Extension, Cabarrus County Center...


  • COOKSMART/EATSMART COOKING SCHOOL

    10/25/2017
    06:00PM — 08:30PM

    Thursday evenings, October 12,19,26 and November 2 * 6-8:30 p.m. * $50 NC Cooperative Extensi...


  • A Cheese(y) Holiday Affair

    10/25/2017
    06:30PM — 08:00PM

    Tuesday, October 24, 12 Noon and 6:30PM * $3 NC Cooperative Extension, Cabarrus County Center...


  • TODDLER STORY TIME

    10/26/2017
    10:30AM

    • Children from walking age to three years old with caregiver. Songs, stories, finger plays follo...


  • Cook Smart/Eat Smart

    10/26/2017
    06:00PM — 08:30PM

    This popular hands-on cooking class teaches more than 24 cooking techniques to make meal planning...


  • COOKSMART/EATSMART COOKING SCHOOL

    10/26/2017
    06:00PM — 08:30PM

    Thursday evenings, October 12,19,26 and November 2 * 6-8:30 p.m. * $50 NC Cooperative Extensi...


  • 5th Bi-Annual Harrisburg ARTwalk!

    10/21/2017
    11:00AM — 07:00PM

    New Artists - Food & Entertainment! This year The 5th Annual Harrisburg ARTWalk continues it's gr...


  • Fall Festival & Movie in the Park

    10/21/2017
    03:00PM — 09:00PM

    Fall Festival begins at 3 p.m. Movie (Monsters Inc.) begins at 6:30 p.m. Come dressed in your...


  • 10th Rotary Annual Seafood Festival

    10/21/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    Cabarrus Rotary Charitable Works presents the 10th Rotary Annual Seafood Festival to raise funds ...


  • Movie Night Double Feature

    10/21/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    Join us for movie night on the farm featuring “Curious George: A Halloween Boofest” and “Curious ...


  • Just say "no" to electronics and hand held devices and step back in time to see the marvels of ea...


  • Thriller Dance Lessons

    10/24/2017
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Ever wanted to learn the King of Pop’s famous Thriller dance? Now’s your chance! Head over to the...


  • Trick or Treat in the Park

    10/27/2017
    05:30PM — 09:00PM

    Games * Candy * Food * Inflatables * Costume Contests * and More! Hundreds of costumed trick o...


  • Thriller Masquerade Ball

    10/27/2017
    08:00PM — 11:00PM

    This event celebrates the fun tradition of the carnival season. Attendees are invited to dress up...


  • Pumpkins in the Patch & Candy in the Corn

    10/28/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Come out dressed in your Halloween costumes or attire. Trick or treat around the farm. This event...


  • Already the Carolinas' largest costume party, the Carolina Renaissance Festival becomes the place...


  • Come out to our third annual Kaleidoscope Cultural Arts Festival and Candy Crawl! We will have ar...


  • Halloween Fun Fest

    10/28/2017
    03:00PM — 06:00PM

    Our annual Halloween Fun Fest in Downtown Salisbury will bring ghoulish fun to residents and visi...


  • Gold Hill Ghost Tour

    10/28/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    Enjoy a fun night of ghost stories at one of the most haunted sites in Rowan County. Ghost storie...


  • Pumpkins in the Patch & Candy in the Corn

    10/29/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Come out dressed in your Halloween costumes or attire. Trick or treat around the farm. This event...


  • Already the Carolinas' largest costume party, the Carolina Renaissance Festival becomes the place...


  • Candy Crawl

    10/31/2017
    03:00PM — 05:00PM

    Local merchants provide trick-or-treating and family-friendly entertainment on Union Street in Do...


  • Sweet Street at the Park

    10/31/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    Sweet Street is a family-friendly trunk or treat festival. There will be food, games, activities,...


  • Fall Plant Sale

    11/02/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Garden now for spring blooms! Plants will be available for pick up between 9am and 5pm on Nove...


  • Cook Smart/Eat Smart

    11/02/2017
    06:00PM — 08:30PM

    This popular hands-on cooking class teaches more than 24 cooking techniques to make meal planning...


  • World of Outlaws World Finals

    11/03/2017
    06:00PM — 11:00PM

    The most prestigious dirt racing event in the country, the Nov. 2-4 World of Outlaws World Finals...


  • Battle for the Bell

    11/03/2017
    07:30PM

    Come watch the battle starting at 7:30. There will be tailgating beforehand, so be sure to stop b...


  • Hops & Heat Beer and Chili Festival

    11/04/2017
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Join us for an afternoon of Beer, Bands, and Buckets of Chili in Downtown Concord! Live music ...


  • Hops & Heat Beer and Chili Festival

    11/04/2017
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Make the best chili in town? Prove it! Join us Saturday November 4th from 1 - 5:00 p.m. in Downto...


  • Fall Back 5K

    11/05/2017
    01:50AM

    The inaugural Fall Back 5K is a new and exciting run event in the City of Kannapolis which starts...


  • Polar Pig BBQ

    11/10/2017
    05:00PM

    Hosted by GMAX Automotive & Xccessories and KCBS sanctioned BBQ cook off being held at the Cabarr...


Get Cabarrus Magazine Delivered to Your Door!

Subscribe today!

Proudly Brought To You By These Community Sponsors