Once a potential beer maker has obtained DIY home brew equipment, they have already taken their first and most crucial step toward making beer at home. Knowing how to make beer may seem like a task beyond most people’s comprehension, but, in reality, it only takes simple ingredients when it is time to get started.
Four key ingredients are needed to make beer at home, and they are all readily available. Water, yeast, malt and hops are all that is required. As the beer maker familiarizes themselves with all of the ingredients, they can develop their own variations on the classic recipes. Knowing how to use adjuncts and fining agents is of utmost importance.
That’s why it is pivotal for would-be-at-home beer makers to read on to learn more about the primary ingredients, as well as adjuncts and fining agents. This guide is here to help!
When it comes to fermentable sugar in beer, malt is the primary source. Before brewing grade barley is sold to beer makers, malt manufacturers handle an intensive germination and kilning process. Malt is merely barley that has had the chance to sprout and dry. The manner in which roasting time, temperature, pH, concentration, sugar, and nitrogenous compounds are handled makes a world of difference in each malt’s flavor chemicals.
Base malts are used in most instances, while specialty malts are offered to those looking to craft different flavors. Character and depth are added when these types of malts are utilized. Meanwhile, malt extract is available, letting a brewer skip the mashing process and start boiling. Pale, white or amber extract is chosen based on the flavor profile that the home brewer is looking to enjoy.
Hops are responsible for the flavor and aroma of the beer in question. Once the essential oils have been broken down in boiling wort, this is what gives beers their signature flavor, aroma and bitterness. Other brewers may decide to use the dry-hopping technique, which is when the hops are added post-fermentation for added flavor and aroma.
Bacteria and Yeast
Fermentation nuances usually come down to the type of brewer’s yeast that is used. Brewer’s yeast produces a wide range of other compounds, including esters, fusel alcohols, ketones, and various phenols and fatty acids, all of which profoundly affect the character of a beer. Wild bacteria and yeast are very hit or miss, so be careful. The flavors that are produced may be outweighed by the amount of effort and risk that are required. Cross-contamination should also be avoided as much as possible.
Of course, water is the most obvious ingredient of all. pH, hardness, alkalinity, and residual alkalinity are the main factors that need to be considered when starting a home brewing project. Hard water needs to be avoided because it makes it very hard for the brewer to successfully raise a lather.
If the home brewer needs a source of fermentable sugars, adjuncts are the way to go. They serve as a much cheaper alternative to malted grains and produce a much lighter beer that is less malty. Adjuncts can also be chosen in a manner that gives the final product its own unique character.
These compounds are added as a means of improving clarity. The agents attach themselves to various contaminants, allowing them to settle at the bottom of the beverage. They are added in the fermenter or at the end of the boil, depending on the agents that are chosen.