Making Your Own Beer From a Kit

Did pioneers make their own beer or did they make a trek down to the nearest tavern? I don’t see why some pioneers would not make their own beer. Pioneers already slaughtered and butchered their own meat, harvested their own fruits and vegetables, made their own clothing and made do and repurposed so many objects with their own ingenuity that it would make sense that some of them did make their own beer.
We recently made our own beer.  I wish we could grow our own hops and wheat ourselves to make our own beer, instead we used a beer brew kit that my son gave his dad for Father’s Day. My son ordered the homebrew kit from Monster Brew - Home Beer Making Kits and Equipment. Actually he ordered two Mini Monster Bookshelf Brewery: One Gallon Homebrew Kits- India Pale Ale and Amber Wheat.
The Included Items in the Homebrew Kit
The kit contained most of the items needed to make the beer. It included the 1 gallon glass fermenter, the grain mix, hops packet, yeast packet, airlock and rubber stopper, the siphon cane and tubing, the glass thermometer and equipment cleanser. We had to provide the cooking pots, large butter muslin to use for straining (We could have used the nylon straining bag we use to hold the fruit pulp while making wine or any other fine mesh strainer.), 3 tablespoons of honey, empty beer bottles, bottle caps, a bottle capper, and a funnel.
It took about a month from start to finish to make the beer.  The included instruction manual listed and explained in detail the 7 steps to brew the beer.

The first step was to sanitize all the equipment with the included equipment cleanser. That is a very important step not only in beer making, but also in making wine, making cheese, and in canning foods. The sanitation of the equipment ensures a quality end product.
Smashing the Grain
The second step was to mash, or cook the wheat in water so that the starch could be converted to sugar. During this time it was important to monitor the temperature and stir with 170°F being the temperature not to exceed. This process of converting the starch to sugar took about an hour and a half.

Sparging the Grain

The third step was to sparge the wheat. Sparging was simply done by pouring out the grains or wheat into a strainer then heating up more water to 170°F and pouring that water slowly over the grains. And then pouring all of the liquid poured over the first two times over the grain yet a third time slowly as to allow the sugar-rich liquid to be naturally filtered through the grains.

Boiling the Beer

The fourth step was to boil the beer for an hour so as to sterilize the beer and to aid in the extraction of the flavor of the hops. During this time it was crucial to be vigilant about the time of adding hops to the boiling process. The correct time of adding the hops was dependent on the type of beer being made.  The instruction manual listed the intervals of adding the hops according to what beer was being brewed.

The fifth step was to ferment the beer. Once the boiling process was completed the beer had to be cooled in an ice bath and then transferred to the glass fermenter or jug. Once the beer was in the jug yeast was added and then the jug was topped with a siphon tube and rubber stopper. The glass jug set on a counter in a cool, dark place for about 3 days. Afterwards, the siphon tube was replaced with an airlock and rubber stopper for about another 2 weeks until the fermentation process was complete.

Fermenting the Beer

Siphoning the Beer
Adding the Bottle Cap

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The sixth step was to bottle the beer.  We cleaned and sanitized the beer bottles. We also made a mixture of honey and water over the stove to create a carbonated beer. This mixture had to be carefully watched so that it would not burn. After making the mixture we had difficulty siphoning the beer out of the glass jug and into the pot. We finally figured out that the pot needed to be on the floor so that the beer could flow freely using gravity to pull the beer to the pot. It would have been helpful if this was included in the instruction manual. The reason why we siphoned the beer instead of just pouring it into the pot was as to not disturb the sediment that had accumulated on the bottom of the glass jug. After mixing the beer and honey mixture together we poured the beer into a pitcher and used a funnel to help guide the beer into the bottle. Once the beer was in the bottles we added a cap and clampled it closed using a bottle capper. We then stored the bottled beer in a dark closet for two more weeks.
The seventh and last step was to serve the beer. We refrigerated the beer for 24 hours before serving and then poured the beer into glasses. The reason we served the beer in glasses was to pour off more beer from the sediment that might have collected on the bottom of the bottles. The sediment is not at all harmful but it does make the beer a bit hazy.
The result was a very enjoyable beer. It is an absolute joy to make your own beer from grain! We enjoyed it so much that we plan on making some more beer again. The only suggestion we have is to make sure you set enough time aside the first day to complete the beer making process. It took us about 3 and half hours to complete all the necessary steps. Don’t be intimidated about the process.  We hope you get a chance to make your own beer. Enjoy!


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