Here's how to prepare your 4L Grain Bucket Kit or refill. You can use this same recipe for all three styles of beer we offer.
Before you start, know that making beer is not difficult. People have been making beer for thousands of years and they didn't have access to everything you have in your kitchen. You are also not making thousands of litres in a commercial brewery where every batch has to be consistent - you have a lot of leeway.
Simply ensure that you don't contaminate your beer (instructions on keeping things sterile below) and you will make yummy beer that you'll enjoy drinking.
We've tried to keep these steps as simple as possible. But, if you are interested in the theory behind these steps, more information is available under the [Show More] blocks to help the 'crafty'. Make sure to go through all the steps before you start. We also recommend that you unpack and familiarise yourself with the items in your kit before you start (maybe leave the grain in the bucket for now though ;)
You can find pictures and descriptions of all the items in your kit on the page for each style of beer:
Hopefully, this is the start of a rewarding hobby for you. So while the steps are explained simply, we do attempt to introduce brewing jargon to help jump you into the world of craft brewing. Don't be alarmed - you'll catch on quick
In addition to your 4L Grain Bucket Kit, here are the things that you need to find around your houseBrew Day
Before you start, here are some things to get ready first
Mashing is a form of steeping in which malted barley is soaked in water to allow the enzymes in the malt to convert starches into fermentable sugars that can be consumed by your yeast to make alcohol. The process is incredibly dependant on specific temperature to aid the different enzymes.
The process we describe here is known as infusion mashing, in which all of the grain is mashed in a single pot. We advocate a slightly longer mash time than most homebrewing recipes, which typically specify a 60-minute rest between 60℃ and 70℃, because the lower mash volume of our recipe results in the pot (mash tun) cooling more rapidly.
It is a common misconception that the enzymes stop working bellow their ideal temperature. While their activity does drop off quickly, the scientific literature empirically shows that activity is still present. The lower temperatures your mash tun will experience do, however, favour enzymes that will result in a 'drier' tasting beer (actually beneficial for the styles we are going for) and does result in more sediment in your beer (specifically beta-glucan). This is an acceptable trade-off for the simplicity of the method. The alternative is not extracting enough sugars, which results in a lower alcohol beer.
The maximum sugar extraction by the enzymes in the malted barley happens between 60℃ and 70℃. Above 70℃ the enzymes start to denature (break down permanently) which will result in no sugar extraction and thus your yeast produces no alcohol. The enzymatic activity drops off sharply below 60℃, causing similar results.
Our method involves waiting for the beeswax to melt, which happens at around 68℃. We then wait 90 seconds, which in our testing reliably gets the temperature to around 76℃. When this 76℃ water is mixed with the room-temperature grain, it results in an ideal mash-in temperature of around 68℃.
If you have a reliable thermometer handy, you can skip the beeswax and head directly to 76℃
Such a small volume of water will lose heat surprisingly fast, so work quickly to get your grain in the pot and the pot wrapped up.
Lautering is the technical term for separating the liquid (wort) from the grain. One of the steps in lautering is sparging.
Sparging is the process of washing additional sugars off the grains so that more sugar ends up in the wort (sometimes referred to as increasing your brewery efficiency). This is important for our recipe given our high concentration of grain to water.
In a brewery, sparging is done with warm water. But in our test batches, room-temperature water has proven to yield sufficient efficiency. We have thus opted for this method to simplify the recipe. Feel free to experiment with warmer water on your second batch. You can only increase the alcohol in your beer - just dont burn yourself...
Boiling causes a number of chemical reactions vital to the brewing process.
Firstly it sterilizes the wort so that your brewer's yeast is the only thing that grows in your fermentor. It releases the hops flavours (through isomerization), stops the ezymatic processes from the mashing step and causes proteins (particularly from the flaked corn) to precipitate out of the wort.
Most importantly, it boils away many 'off-flavours' including dimethyl sulfide. This is why it is important that you DO NOT cover your pot while boiling
Be careful at this point that the pot does not boil over. Cleanup is a pain and, more importantly, you'll end up with weaker beer! A gentle stir can help to avoid the pot boiling over
Given the large variation in stoves, you may boil off too much water during your boil. Boiling wort that is overly concentrated can have two effects. Firstly it darkens your beer to a deeper dark orange colour (which shouldn't be too much of a problem now that you know). Secondly it can reduce the effectiveness of your hops (which is also a matter of personal taste - our recipes are more 'hoppier' than most commercial beers to start off with)
If your boil volume drops bellow 2 litres (around half of what you started with), you can choose to top it up with boiling water from your kettle. If adding this water stops your rolling boil, simply pause your timer until it starts again and continue as normal.
Hops serves two functions in your beer. Firstly it gives beer its characteristic bitterness. Secondly it adds many of the aromatic flavours that make each beer distinct. Each of our kit pages details the tastes of each of our hops but in general we are talking about the subtle citrus, floral or spicy flavours.
The earlier hops is added, the more bitterness it imparts on the beer. In technical terms, this is because there is more time for the isomerization of the alpha acids in the hops.
Adding hops later adds more "hops taste" and aroma to your beer. This is because the many complex aromatic oils that create these flavours break down with prolonged exposure to heat. When someone talks about a beer tasting 'hop-forward', this is mostly due to these hops added later in the boil.
Feel free to experiment with different numbers and sizes of hops additions at different times to craft your beer to your taste. If you do experiment, we suggest that you do your last hop addition with at least 5 minutes left in the boil to ensure that the wort remains sterile.
As a guideline, here is a ranking of the relative bittering potential of each of our hops based on their approximate percentage alpha acid contents. The ranking is from highest bittering potential to lowest:
Similarly, here are the hops ranked by aromatic potential bases on their total oil composition. This comparison is weak, at best, given that the different hops impart differing aromatics but is still a fairly good starting point
At this point you can sterilise your grain bucket, tube, sieve and spoon in the bucket of no-rinse sanitizer you prepared at the beginning.
The idea is to rapidly drop the temperature of the wort from boiling to near room temperature. This both halts the chemical reactions that were happening during the boil and skips some unwanted chemical reactions that happen at temperatures between boiling and room temperature.18. Close the bucket and leave for about an hour to allow further cooling down to room temperature. We are aiming to get below a temperature of 30℃ (ideally 24℃) before adding the yeast. You can put it in the fridge if you want, but DO NOT go below 18℃.
In about 16 to 24 hours you will see the fermentor bubbling through the airlock. It will bubble vigorously for up to a day. After this, it will continue to ferment for up to a week and produce some pressure in the process, but bubbles through the airlock will become infrequent and barely noticeable. Dont panic - the yeast is doing its thing.
We use a relatively fast yeast that should complete fermentation in four days. This may, however, be slowed by many factors such as a lower fermentation temperature or pitching the yeast at too high a temperature. You can check if fermentation is complete by pushing on the lid of your fermentor to release any built up pressure and then repeating this a couple of hours later to see if any new CO2 gas has been created by fermentation. By 7 days, fermentation will definitely be complete.
The risk of bottling too early is that the sugars that have not yet been consumed by the yeast will continue to create additional CO2 in your bottles leading to overly fizzy beer.
If you can, try to keep your fermentor somewhere that experiences relatively stable temperatures throughout the day. You ideally want between 18℃ and 24℃. Don't go below 18℃ as this will cause the yeast to go dormant and going up to 28℃ is looking for trouble. Higher fermentation temperatures result in more ‘fruity ester’ flavours more characteristic of pilsners and weiss beer while lower temperatures result in flavours more characteristic of ales and lagers. Don't stress too much though - beer wants to be made...
From point 16 onwards, please make sure everything that touches the beer is sterile by rinsing in the no-rinse sanitizer. This includes your hands.
Before you start, here are some thing things to get ready
Racking is the technical term for transferring your beer from one vessel to another.
In our recipe we rack the beer from the fermentor back into your sterilized pot to leave all the sediment (trub) in the bottom of the fermentor. This both helps prevent the trub from ending up in your bottles and makes mixing in your priming sugar easier.
The two critical aspects of racking are to introduce as little oxygen as possible and to handle the liquid gently. Oxygen will cause your beer to turn stale and contributes to haziness in your beer. Causing to much turbulence in your beer will effect its ability to produce a nice head of foam in your glass.
Our recommended racking method is to use the provided tube to siphon your beer between vessels, but feel free to use another technique as long as you keep the above aspects in mind.
To siphon using the included tube, first position the vessel you are siphoning from at a greater height than the vessel you are siphoning to. A kitchen sink is useful for this.
Thoroughly sanitize both your hands and the tube (inside and out) in your diluted no-rinse sanitizer. Be sure to drain the excess sanitizer from the tube.
Next, submerge the tube in the beer so that it is completely filled with no bubbles. Then block both ends with your thumbs. Keeping the one end submerged in the beer, place the other end in the lower vessel you are siphoning to.
Lastly, release your thumb from the end of the tube that is submerged in the beer and beer will flow through the tube via gravity (even though it has to first go up over the edge of the container you are siphoning from).
DO NOT suck on the end of the pipe. You don't want to contaminate your beer in this home stretch!
There will be a lot of trub (sediment) at the bottom of the bucket. You do not want to transfer this to the pot.
A good explanation is included in our description of priming sugar on the Kit page.
Unlike many other homebrewing techniques, our recipe advocates mixing your priming sugar before adding your beer to your bottles. This will ensure that every bottle carbonates the same.
The beer will continue to get better the more conditioning it has (up to around 4 weeks). You should be able to keep the bottled beer for up to 6 months provided you store them in a cool, dark place. Light breaks down the compounds in the beer - this is why so much commercial beer is in brown bottles.
Bottling day is all about being clean and sterile - you do not want to contaminate your beer. You also don't want to add oxygen into the beer, so everything you do should be gentle.
The day before you want to drink your freshly made, hand crafted beer, pop the bottle in the fridge to cool down. As this is craft beer, there will be a small amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Keep that bit for yourself, as it is the tastiest bit.
2020-08-14 - v1.0.0 - Initial Draft 2020-08-20 - v1.0.1 - Speeeeling like grammar used to make 2020-09-10 - v1.0.2 - Move instructions on tube to later in recipe (also fix place where the beer had 'warts') 2020-10-03 - v1.0.3 - Improve instructions regarding beeswax and give more guidance on yeast activity during fermentation 2020-11-01 - v1.1.0 - Add 'Lockdown' IPA and 'Coffee' Stout to recipe 2020-12-28 - v1.1.1 - Update guidance on fermentation and conditioning times based on great feedback from our community