• Home Brewing How To

    The following is a brief overview on the all grain home brewing process. This process allows you to brew beer at your home using grains such as wheat, oats and malted barley with out the need of any sugar extracts.

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      All Grain Home Brewery Configuration Image
    All Grain Home Brewery:
    Above you can see a single tier all grain home brewery \ home brewing rack. The key elements of the brewery are pointed out, including the Hot Liquor Tank, Mash Tun and the Boil Kettle. The following steps will walk you through the all grain brewing process and you can use this image for reference.
    Home Brewing Hot Liquor Tank
    Step #1:
    Filter your water to remove any contaminants and chlorine and add it to the hot liquor tank. Ignite the burner and begin heating the water to your desired strike temperature. When heating the water for your mash, take into consideration that the grains and mash tun will be at room temperature and will reduce the temperature of water you add to the mash tun (typicaly by 10-15 F), so you will need to compensate by boosting the temperature of your strike water. The Hot Liquor Tank permits you to heat water in advance of different steps in the all grain brewing process so that large temperature changes to the mash can take place quickly. The hot liquor tank also permits a home brewer to conduct the sparging process. An approximate calculation for how much strike water you will need is LBS of Grain x 1.15 Quarts = ___. You can divide that by 4 for the gallons needed.


    All Grain Home Brewing Mash

    Step #2:
    Once your strike temperature is reached in the hot liquor tank, begin transfering the heated water to your mash tun and start adding in your crushed grains. It is important for the grains to be crushed or else the sugars can not be properly formed and extracted from the grains. Make sure that you stir the grains vigorously with a mash paddle to insure that all of the grains have good contact with the water and that there are no dry pockets. The mash temperature (typically between 150 F and 158 F) needs to be closely monitored and maintained to insure proper enzyme activation and starch \ sugar conversion. The higher your mash temperature the maltier \ sweeter your beer will be since more complex sugar chains will be formed that the yeast will not be able to convert during fermentation. It is critical that you closely watch and maintin a proper mash temperature for the style of beer that you are brewing. Most mash processes last for approximately 60 minutes.
    All Grain Home Brewing Mash Recirculation

    Step #3:
    Once your mash has completed you will want to recirculate the liquid in the mash tun for about 10 minutes or so. If you have pumps then set the flow rate to a slow to medium pace and allow the wort to return to the mash tun. If you do not have pumps available you can use a small pot, canister or pitcher to catch the wort from the mash tun spigot and then gently pour it back on top of the grain bed. Recirculation helps loosen the sugars from the crushed grains as well as well as helping to clear up the run off from the mash.


    Home Brewing Sparge

    Step #4:
    In preparation for the sparge, you will want to raise the temperature of the water in your hot liquor tank to approximately 168 F. It is important not to raise the temperature much higher then that as the water at that temperature can release tannins from the grain husk which can lead to off flavors and chill haze in your finished beer. You will want to prepare approximately 1 gallon of sparge water for every 2 LBS of grain in your mash. As you transfer the wort from the mash tun to the brew kettle you will want to start the sparging process. The super hot water from the sparge arm with help liquefy any remaining sugars in the grain bed so that it may be transferred to the boil kettle. It is important not to rush this process as you want to extract as much of the sugar as possible from the grains. It should take approximately 3-5 minutes to transfer 1 gallon.
    Brewing Hops

    Step #5:
    At this point the all grain brewing process becomes very similar to the extract brewing process. Once the wort has been transfered from the mash tun to the boil kettle you will want to bring the temperature of the kettle to a boil. A few minutes after a boil has been achieved you will want to add in your first bittering hop addition. It is important to note that the longer that your hops are exposed to the boiling wort, the more bitter the finished beer will be so you will want to watch the clock carefully. If possible, you should set a timer for your next hop addition and add any following hop additions when needed.

    Home Brewing Ingredients

    Step #6:
    After you have finished boiling your wort and making your final aroma hop additions which typically takes between 60 and 90 minutes, cool the wort as quickly as possible. A wort chiller will greatly speed up the cooling process, there are a wide variety of home brewing wort chillers available and they differ greatly in price. I personally like the convoluted counter flow chillers, but immersion and plate chiller also work well.
    Home Brewing Fermenter

    Step #7:
    Once the wort has been cooled to approximately 70F, transfer the wort to a sanitized carboy, conical fermenter or sealable fermentation bucket. It is important for the wort to be less that 85 F so that you can avoid oxidizing the wort and potentially destroying or shocking the yeast when it is added to the wort. Try to splash the wort around while transferring it as the yeast will utilize the oxygen for its initial reproduction phase. Once the wort has been transferred, place the yeast into the fermenter and seal the carboy or bucket with an airlock which will permit co2 to escape while not allowing in any outside contaminants. It is critical that your fermenter, airlock and anything that comes in contact with the wort after the boil be sanitized or else you will risk infecting your beer with unwanted bacteria. Allow the beer to ferment at approximately 68F for an Ale or 52F for a lager. Ideally the temperature will stay consistent for the entire fermentation process. A temperature controlled room, fermenter, refrigerator or chest freezer is an idea fermentation chamber.


    Different Home Brewing Kegs

    Step #8:
    Once the yeast has completed fermenting the beer (which typically takes 7-21 days for an ale, depending on the potential alcohol level of the beer, quantity of yeast pitched, fermentation temperature and health of the yeast), then either transfer the beer to a keg and force carbonate it using a CO2 tank or bottle the beer and add priming sugar so that the beer can carbonate and condition in the bottle. I personally prefer using a keg since you have great control over carbonation levels and it is far easier to clean and sanitize 1 keg as opposed to 30+ bottles. When using a keg, you also have the option of bottling or filling growlers once the beer has been carbonated and conditioned. The beer should condition for at least 2 weeks in the bottle at approximately 70F. Be careful not to add too much sugar and to insure that your fermentation had fully completed before bottling or else you may risk having the bottles shatter from too much CO2 pressure.
    Home Brewed Beer

    Step #9:
    Lastly is my personal favorite step in the all grain home brewing process. Refrigerate your beer and then pour yourself a tall glass and enjoy the fruits of your labor! Few hobbies are as rewarding as home brewing.