Homemade beer is the best beer in the world, by far. Have you ever tasted anybody's homebrew? If you have, you probably thought it was darn good. Let me tell you that when it is your own, it is even better.
In fact, it is incomparable to anything else on the planet. I am a beer lover and long-time homebrewer. There is no other hobby that is as satisfying as this one.
I have entered many, many homebrewing competitions and have won lots of blue ribbons for my beers, including at my local County Fair (which is a huge one). In fact I had so many ribbons that I finally threw them all away and stopped entering competitions. Now I just brew what I like and drink it while browsing the internet or watching television with my wife. Yep, life is good for homebrewers. Listen, anyone can make beer on their stove - and I mean really, really good beer. You don't have to take it to the level that I did.
If you enjoy beer one-tenth as much as I do, then I highly recommend that you at least make one batch in your lifetime, just so you can say you did it. Having brewed a batch a beer changes a person, for the better, and forever. You will then be one of my brethren. You are going to need some simple pieces of equipment: A large pot to brew in, a big food-grade plastic bucket with a lid to ferment in, a small plastic "airlock" and rubber stopper that goes into a hole in the bucket lid, bottles and caps, and a basic bottlecap crimping tool.
It also helps to have something to stir with; a big wooden spoon will do nicely. There are only four ingredients in beer: water, malt, hops, and yeast. Malt refers to malted barley - for your first batch you will simply use packaged "malt extract." Hops are best purchased in pellet form; they look like rabbit food. A package of dry brewers yeast costs about one dollar.
Water can come from any source, but at least two gallons of it needs to be sanitized. Those 2.5 gallon water vessels from the market work nicely. Homebrew is typically made in 5 gallon batches. This will fill two cases worth of bottles.
Take my advice and go for the large, 22 oz. Bottles, as this is less bottling work. You will need 6 total gallons of starting water with about 2.
5 gallons chilled in a sealed container. The plastic bucket should be a 6 gallon size. Over half a gallon of water will evaporate while you are brewing. Here is what you do: 1.
Boil 3.5 gallons of water with 6 pounds of malt extract for one hour, adding an ounce of hops at the beginning of the boil, some more hops after 45 minutes, and some more hops when you turn off the heat. Cool the pot in the sink by running water around it. Sanitize your bucket fermenter with a shot of bleach mixed into it full of water.
Let that sit for a few minutes with the airlock and rubber stopper then pour out over the inside part of the bucket lid and rinse everything that the bleach solution touched with hot water. 2. Put the chilled 2.5 gallons of water in the bucket first, then pour the brew from the pot on top of it. Do not stir. Add the yeast and seal the lid tight on the bucket and put the airlock in the stopper and the stopper in the lid-hole.
Put water in the air lock. After a day or two the airlock will start bubbling. 3. After a couple weeks its time to bottle the beer. Boil 3/4 cup of sugar with 2 cups of water and add it to your bucket of beer. You can sanitize a measuring cup with hot water, or just put it through the dishwasher with heated drying on.
Scoop out the beer with the measuring cup and fill the bottles leaving 1" of space in them. Crimp the caps on and store the bottles in a cool dark area for two weeks. Clean everything. 4. After two weeks put some bottles in the fridge and enjoy.
Most of brewing is cleaning and sanitation. Everything that comes into contact with your unfermented beer, and even on bottling day after it has fermented, must be sanitized. A small shotglass of household bleach mixed with 5-6 gallons of water makes an effective sanitizing solution, given 5-10 minutes of contact time. Don't forget to tell me when the beer is ready to drink. If I live in a nearby state, I just may come over and taste it with you.
Andrew Kasch is a beer lover and long-time award-winning homebrewer. Many of his recipes can be found on his website http://www.makeyourownbeer.info