Get your water ready
First and foremost, get some water ready. If you have decent quality tap water this should be fine for beer kit brewing as we don’t need to worry about PH levels or any of that until you start more advanced brewing techniques. A good trick is to fill up some large containers (a few 1 gallon/5litre water bottles would be ideal) cover the container with something like kitchen tissue/paper towel or a clean cloth. Leave the containers somewhere over night (in a warmish room) so that a lot of the chlorine in the tap water can evaporate. If your tap water quality isn’t up to scratch or you’re not too sure, get some bottled water, nothing too fancy – you can get 5litre bottles of water in supermarkets for less than €1.50 each. A typical batch of beer will need about 20-25 litres of water (check your beer kit to be sure). When you start to brew, put some of the water in the fridge to help cool down your mix faster (you’ll see what I mean below)
Clean & sterilize your equipment.
Next, clean and clear down the area you’re going to be working at and keep the floor space around you clear. Assemble your brewing equipment and ingredients that you’ll be using. For the brew day the main equipment you’ll need ready is listed below:
- Fermentation vessel & lid (Cleaned & Sanitized)
- Airlock & bung (Cleaned & Sanitized)
- Beer Paddle (Cleaned & Sanitized)
- Thermometer (Cleaned & Sanitized)
- Beer thief/Turkey baster (Cleaned & Sanitized)
- Hydrometer with sampling tube(Cleaned & Sanitized)
- Pyrex Jug or equivalent (Cleaned & Sanitized)
- Can Opener (Cleaned & Sanitized)
- Scissors (Cleaned & Sanitized)
- Baking Glove/Tea towel (Clean)
Best way to sanitize everything is to fill your fermenter with water and sanitizing solution and place all your brewing gear into it and let them soak for a while. If you’re not using a no-rinse based sanitizer, be sure to thoroughly rinse everything with clean water. (Tap water should be fine once there are no issues with tap water in your area.) Keep an area of your workspace clean for putting your gear on or better yet fill a tall jug or jar with some no rinse sanitizing solution that you can leave the likes of your beer paddle/thermometer etc in .
This is the most important step to take, so be thorough. If like me your cleaning habits might be a bit below standard, you might want to be a bit extra meticulous when it comes to sanitizing your brewing gear.
You’ll also need either a pot that will hold the one can from the single 1.7kg can kits or two cans from your 3kg kit in hot water (two small/medium pots will suffice for each can). If you’re brewing with the single can kit, make sure you have the required amount of dry malt extract ready (usually 1KG). If you don’t have any dry malt extract you could use sugar, but this will really lower the quality of your beer. (Yeasts reaction to sugar is a bit more volatile than it is to malt extract)
A large enough pot to boil up 3 litres of water will also be needed.
Once this is all together and done, you’re ready to brew!
Prepare the wort/beer mix
Remove any labels from your wort concentrate extract tin(s) and place into a pot of hot water for 10-15 mins to allow contents to soften. Whilst this is going on, put 3 litres of your water in a large pot and place it on the cooker to boil.
Whilst waiting for your wort cans to soften and water to boil, you can re-hydrate your yeast. To do this, fill up your sanitized Pyrex jug with about 1 cup (240 ml) of warm water (about 35˚c). Add 1 tsp on sugar to the water and stir. Cut open your yeast packet with the sanitized scissors and sprinkle this onto the water, no need to stir just cover the jug with tin foil or cling film and leave it be for about 20 mins. We’ll come back to this later when we’re ready to pitch the yeast. This step is optional, you can simply sprinkle the contents directly onto your wort but this method will kick-start your fermentation process. Additionally if the yeast packet has expired, this method will help you find out sooner (no yeast activity in the jug) rather than waiting a week to learn to pitch a fresher batch of yeast.
*For the next few steps, if you are using a glass carboy to ferment in, your best off making up the mix in a separate sanitized plastic vessel first as you will be working with boiling water that may crack the glass carboy.
The tins should now have softened enough by now so open them up with your sanitized tin opener and pour the contents into your fermentation vessel. Fill up the empty cans with some of the water you boiled and stir them around to get the left over extract syrup from the cans – Note that the cans will be scalding hot so use the tea towel or baking gloves to pick the cans up and pour the boiled water from them into the fermenter slowly, try not splash around the mix while it’s this hot (whiles its hot we don’t want to “oxidise” the mix). Add the rest of the boiled water to the fermenter and use the beer paddle to mix it all around.
*If your using a 3kg/ two can kit you can skip this step – Add your dry malt extract to the mix, continuously stirring whilst making sure there’s no clumps forming, keep stirring until the consistency is smooth.
Add the rest of your cold water to the fermenter and bring the total volume to whatever your beer kit advises (usually 23 litres). While doing this once you’ve added the first 5 litre of cold water to cool down your mix, add the rest of the water from a height – put the fermenter on the ground and pour in the water from shoulder height to churn and “aerate” the wort (as the wort is cooler it’s fine to splash it around and will provide a good environment for your yeast). Once you have done this use a beer thief/turkey baster to take a sample of the wort and take a reading – this will be your Original Gravity (OG) take note of this as we will need it to work out the alcohol % in a few weeks.
Pitch the yeast
Once all the water has been added, make sure the wort is at room temperature before pitching the yeast (between 19˚c - 23˚c) for ideal results. Pitch the yeast in, if you re-hydrated the yeast as mentioned earlier just go on and pour it right in. If you are pitching straight from the packet, sprinkle the yeast evenly around the top of the wort. Now place your lid on, fill your airlock about 1/3 full with water , attach it to the bung (rubber washer like piece) and fix it to the lid. Make sure the lid is sealed tight and put the fermentation vessel in a room where it will remain at a constant room temperature. If you have a LCD self adhesive thermometer, stick it on the fermenter to keep an eye on the temperature. In about 24 hours you will notice the airlock bubbling away, this is a good sign that your beer is on the way! Leave the fermenter alone for about a week or so (until the airlock has little to no activity). Then we’ll get ready for Bottle day!