How to Make Beer: Getting Started With Home Brewing

Like many Americans, you may have wondered how your favorite beverage comes to be.  Sure you’ve seen the big steel containers and fancy equipment used by big breweries in commercials and at their restaurants, but did you know that you can also brew beer at your own home?

You may be surprised to learn how easy home brewing can be with the right equipment.  If you’re interested in getting starting with home brewing, one of the easiest and best ways is with Mr. Beer kits

We’ll take a look at how to make beer using the Mr. Beer brewing method.

The Basics of How To Make Beer

Home brewing can be broken down into three main steps:

    • Sanitizing
    • Fermenting
    • Carbonating

Sanitation is preparing your work area and tools to craft your beer safely.  Fermentation is the process of converting sugars in the malt into alcohol by adding yeast. Carbonating is adding the bubbles to your beer which is again achieved by yeast and sugar.

Though there are many ingredients that are used to create different kinds of brews, beer is created by mixing a few basic ingredients:

    • Water
    • Malt
    • Hops
    • Yeast

These ingredient are all contained in your Mr. Beer kit, making it easy to get started brewing. There are only a few other items you will need to get going.

What You’ll Need for Home Brewing

Mr. Beer home brewing kits come with almost everything you’ll need to make your first batch of beer.  Many kits include the fermenter, bottles, and all of the ingredients.  However, there are some other utensils you’ll need to get started:

    • A large pot
    • Can opener
    • A metal spoon
    • Measuring cup and measuring spoons
    • Rubber spatula
    • Resealable bottles or growlers (if your kit didn’t include any)

Additionally, you will need three gallons of refrigerated water and you may need some granulated sugar depending on your kit, but we’ll get to that later.  Once you have all of these supplies, it’s time to clean your kit and get ready to brew.

Sanitizing Your Home Brewing Kit

Before you can start to brew, all of your equipment must be properly sanitized.  This is important not only for health and safety but also because a lack of sanitation could lead to wild yeast that can affect your beer’s flavor.

The best way to sanitize your supplies is with the no-rinse sanitizer that comes with your Mr. Beer kit.  To use this solution, fill your keg fermenter or bucket with four quarts of warm water and mix in half a packet of the sanitizer.  You should stir until the sanitizer completely dissolves into the water.  Once it is dissolved you should seal the top so that you can slosh and shake it without water leaking out.  Make sure the solution touches every part of your fermenter.

Next it’s time to sanitize your utensils.  The easiest way to do this is by utilizing the solution from your fermenter bucket.  Fill a mixing bowl with the solution via the bucket’s spigot and place all of the utensils you’ll be using into the bowl.  Again, make sure that every part of each utensil gets sanitized by the solution.

Once this is done, you can drain the rest of the solution from your bucket.  Since the it is  a no-rinse sanitizer, you don’t need to worry about washing the bucket or utensils again.  With everything clean, your beer is ready to be created.

Mixing and Fermenting Your Beer

Mr. Beer utilizes a hopped malt extract (HME) that can then be mixed with water and yeast.  To get your HME ready to mix, place the can in a bowl of warm water.  While that’s preparing, the first step in the brewing process is bowling water.  You will need about four cups of boiled water to mix with the HME.

Once the water is boiled, remove it from the heat and pour the HME into the water.  This is where you may want to use a rubber spatula to make sure you get all of the HME out of the can and into your beer.  Stir the pot until the HME is properly dissolved into the water.

Next you will need to pour four quarts of refrigerated, non-distilled (tap or spring) water into the fermenter bucket. After adding the refrigerated water in, you can then add the HME water to the fermenter.  Finally, add in another four quarts of refrigerated water.  The basic “keg” models of the Mr. Beer system hold eight and half quarts of fluid.  For other size kits, refer to your instructions manual for proper measurements.

What you have just created — unfermented beer — is called “wort”.  Be sure to stir your wort until it is well mixed.  Then it is time to add the yeast to the top of the wort and seal your fermenter bucket.

Your beer will need to ferment for about two weeks.  During this time it will need to be placed in a cool, dark area of your home.  Mr. Beer recommends that it be held at a temperature of 68 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit.  Any cooler temperature won’t allow the beer to properly ferment while any warmer temperature could cause off-tastes.

The beer’s fermentation will be most active and visible during the the first five days.  In that time you will see foam accumulating atop the beer.  It might not look great, but don’t worry — it’s all part of the natural fermentation process.

After two weeks your beer should be just about done fermenting.  if it is done, the beer should not be cloudy or have any remaining yeast colonies.  If you think your beer is ready, then try tasting it.

If the beer is overly sweet, it will need more fermentation time.  If it tastes like flat (non-carbonated) beer, then it’s time to bottle your beer. 

Carbonating and Bottling Your Home Brew

Before bottling your beer, it is important to perform the same sanitation procedures for your bottles.  Using the other half of the no-rinse sanitizer packet, fill all of your bottles with warm water and solution and then dump them out.  Don’t forget to get the caps as well.

As you may have gathered by now, bottling your beer doesn’t quite mean it’s ready to drink yet as the bottling phase of the Mr. Beer process doubles as the carbonation phase. 

There are a couple of different methods of carbonating your beer.  The first is to utilize Mr. Beer carbonation drops included in some kits or sold on their website.  Another method is to simply add sugar to your beer, which the yeast will then turn into carbon dioxide.

This chart will help you determine the right amount of sugar or carbonation drops to add to your bottle:

Bottle Size

Table Sugar

Carbonation Drop

500 milliliter

1 teaspoon

1

750 milliliter

2 teaspoons

2

1 Liter

2.5 teaspoons

2.5

2 Liter

1.5 Tablespoons

5

12 ounces

.75 teaspoon

0.75

16 ounces

1 teaspoon

1

20 ounces

1.25 teaspoons

1.5

Note: Most Mr. Beer kits include 750 milliliter bottles.

When filling your bottles from the fermenter hold them at an angle to reduce aeration.  Also be sure to fill them to about an inch and half from the lip to allow room for the carbonation. 

Once you’ve filled the bottles place the caps on and invert them a couple of times but don’t shake.  The bottles will then return to the same dark, cool area that you kept your fermenter.  It will take another one to two weeks for the beer to fully carbonate.  When the bottles are firm to the touch — like when you purchase a plastic bottle of soda — the beers should be ready to go.  Just place them in the fridge for a day or two so they get to an enjoyable drinking temperature.

Congratulations! — You’re a Home Brewer

By follow these steps you’ve not only created a tasty beverage to enjoy but entered the world of home brewing.  With your first beer done, you now have an infinite selection of beers to brew right at home.  Mr. Beer offers hundreds of recipes on their site that include all of the ingredients you’ll need to make a delicious brew.

If you haven’t ordered your home brewing kit yet, what are you waiting for?  Getting started with home brewing is fun and easy.  Pick up a Mr. Beer kit today and see what kind of beer you can create.

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