Brewing from a kit

Brewing from a kit, Step by Step

These instructions are for using a Brewer's Best Beer Ingredient Kit . Please follow the instructions in your kit as these are always the best method for each brewing. However, below is a description of a standard brew so you can see how easy brewing beer can be!

If you are interested in doing an all-grain brew, we have those instructions here. 

Step 1: Prepare

1. Gather your brewing equipment.
You'll need:
  • Brewing Kettle
  • Fermenter
  • Air Lock
  • Funnel (optional)
  • Sanitizer
  • Auto-Siphon
  • Stir Spoon
  • Hydrometer
  • Thermometer
  • Beer Recipe Kit (or individual ingredients)

If you are just starting out, the easiest thing is to purchase one of Russ' Brewer's Best Brewing Equipment Kits that have everything you need to brew beer, all in one box.

Shop Brewing Equipment Kits

2. Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize. 
Your success will rely on how clean your equipment is. Anything that comes in contact with your beer after the boil process should be sanitized. Russ recommends always keeping a good stock of PBW cleaner and Star San sanitzer on hand at all times. You'll be using them constantly.

Step 2: Brew (for Extract Kits)

1. Steep Your Grains.
Pour 2.5 gallons of clean water into your brew pot and begin to heat1. Pour crushed grains into grain bag and tie a loose knot at the top of the bag. When the water is within an appropriate steeping temperature (150º - 165ºF) place the grain bag into the brew pot. Steep grains for approximately 20 minutes. Remove grain bag and without squeezing, allow liquid to drain back into brew pot. Your water is now wort.

The purpose of this step is to pull all the sugars out of your crushed grains and into suspension in the water. Essentially, you're making sugar water (called wort). However, each grain gives a unique flavor profile and releases different types of sugars, giving different beers their unique character. If you were to use cane sugar instead of grain, you'd be making more of a hard seltzer than a beer because you would not be getting any flavor from the grain.

2. Bring kettle to a boil. Add your Malt Extract and Hops 
Once your kettle comes to a rolling boil, lower the heat and stir in the malt extracts. Once the extract is dissolved return to a boil. Pay careful attention that the Malt Extract does not accumulate and caramelize on the bottom of your brew pot.

Hops will now be added at various intervals during the boil depending on your recipe. (Note: Be careful not to boil over when hops are added.) Refer to your recipe instructions for when to add each round of hops to your boil. 

3. Cool your wort
Cool your wort as quickly as possible. You want to chill your wort down to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit before moving to your fermenter. Avoid transferring the heavy sediment (trub) from the brew pot to the fermenter.

This can be done one of two ways:

  1. Ice Bath - Simply set your pot into a sink filled with ice water. 

  2. Use a wort chiller - Insert chiller into your wort while it is still boiling to sanitize the coil. Run cold water from your tap through the chiller and out to a drain.  A wort chiller is the much more effective, but either method will get you the desired results. 

Rapidly cooling wort from boiling down to room temperature or lower is no small task. But it’s a very important one. A fast temperature drop is critical for several reasons:

  • Risk of contamination: There are plenty of airborne yeasts and bacteria that would love to feast on your freshly boiled wort when it’s in the range of 80-160°F (27-71°C). You want to be in this zone as briefly as possible.

  • Protein coagulation: A rapid cool-down knocks proteins out of suspension and results in clearer beer in your glass.

  • More predictable hops utilization: Hops continue to contribute bitterness even at sub-boiling temperatures. Letting wort remain too hot for too long extracts additional bitterness you may not want.

Step 3: Ferment

Don't forget to sanitize all your supplies!

1. Pour cooled wort into the fermenter.
Some brew kettles even have a valve for easy transportation from your kettle to your fermenter.

2. Add water to bring the level to 5 gallons.
Keep your temps around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Thoroughly stir the water into the wort. Using a sanitized hydrometer take an Original Gravity (OG) reading. Once you are satisfied your wort is at the proper volume and within the original gravity (OG) range, record the OG.

3. Aerate wort by splashing it around in its container.
Yeast needs oxygen, and splashing your wort will help. This step is optional, but will help your yeast turn the sugars in your wort into alcohol.

4. Add yeast.
Dry yeast is the easiest, as you don't have to prepare it beforehand. Sanitize the yeast pack + scissors, cut the corner off the yeast pack, and pour the yeast into the fermenter. Be sure you have some head space in your container for the gas created by the yeast to accumulate in or you could end up with a volcano of wort spewing everywhere once the yeast gets going.

5. Seal your fermenter, add a fermentation air lock, and store in a dark cool place.
The wort will begin to ferment within 24 - 48 hours and you may notice CO2 releasing (bubbling) out of the airlock. If no bubbling is evident on day two of fermentation, take a gravity reading with a sanitized hydrometer. If gravity has dropped below your OG reading then fermentation is taking place.

Take a gravity reading again in 4 - 6 days and confirm fermentation has completed by comparing the gravity reading to the final gravity (FG) range listed at the top of the instructions. If gravity is not in the FG range, continue fermentation until it reaches the FG range.

Step 4: Bottling 

After fermentation is complete, typically within two weeks, it's time to bottle your beer.

1. Cleanse everything:
bottles, bottle filler, bottle caps, bottling bucket, and any transfer hoses used. Use a bottle brush on your bottles. 

2. Boil your priming sugar.
In a small saucepan dissolve 1 oz. of priming sugar into 1/2 cup of boiling water for 5 minutes. Pour this mixture into a clean and sanitized 2 gallon pail. Carefully siphon beer from the secondary fermenter (1 gallon glass jug) into the 2 gallon pail. Avoid transferring any sediment. Stir gently for about a minute. .

3. Transfer your beer.
Siphon the beer out of your fermenter and into your bottling bucket. Leave as much sediment in the fermenter as possible.

4. Fill the bottles.
Attach bottle filler to hose, and hose to bottling bucket spigot. Open the bottling bucket spigot and push the bottle filler to the bottom of the bottle.
NOTE: Fill each bottle right to the top. When you remove the bottle filler, it will leave the perfect amount of space at the top of the bottle.

5. Cap the bottles.
You will obviously need a bottle cap crimper. The standup models are much easier to use and well worth the few extra dollars.

6. Store the bottles at room temperature for roughly two weeks.
This gives your beer time to carbonate.

You did it. You made beer.

All that's left to do is..

1. Refrigerate.
2. Enjoy.

Learn how to brew from scratch with just grain, water, yeast & hops!