How To Brew Your
First Batch Of Beer
(Or, The Best Hobby I Ever Drank)
By Mike Mattera
Beer is made from 4 basic ingredients.
1) Grains, such as Malted Barley, Wheat, Rice or Corn.
2) Hops.   3) Water   4)Yeast

This recipe is for the beginner. Rather than cooking many pounds of grain to convert the starches to sugars, we'll use one of the fine commercial cans of Malt Extract Syrup that are available at your local home brew store. Malt Extracts can produce a number of beer styles, depending on the type of beer your trying to make. The most important ingredient in making beer is cleanliness. Proper sanitation will keep your beer looking and tasting good

A standard homebrew "Kit" should include the following Items (but is not limited to these items).

1 - 6 gallon, food grade, plastic bucket. With a lid (to ferment the beer in).
1 - 5 gallon, food grade, plastic bucket (to transfer the beer into before bottling).
(This have a hole 1 inch from the bottom for a spigot.)
1 - 2 to 3 gallon pan. Enamel covered (no cracks or rust) or Stainless Steel (prefered).
A spoon to stir the stuff (called "Wort") in the pan. Stainless or heat resistant plastic (NOT Wood).
1 Racking Cane. A cane shaped piece of clear, hard plastic tubing used for siphoning.
3-4 ft of hose that fits over the racking cane(also for siphoning).
1 Bottle filler.
1 Bottle capper.
65 Bottle caps.
A spigot that screws into the hole of the 5 gallon bucket.
A rubber stopper that fits into the lid of the 6 gallon bucket.
An air lock that fits into the rubber stopper.
A Hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of the beer.

The recipe were going to make is for a Red Ale. Any recipe you want to use is fine. Perhaps a recipe & ingredients came with your kit. Use it. The basic procedure will be the same for most types of beer.

2 cans (3.3 lbs each) of Munton & Fison - Extra Light Extract. Unhopped.
1/2 lb of crushed 40L Crystal Malt grain (40L is a color rating).
3/16 ths of a cup of crushed Chocolate Malt grain.
1 oz of Cluster Hop pellets.
1/2 oz of Cascade Hop Pellets.
1 grain sack (to hold the grain like a tea bag).
2 pkgs of Munton & Fison Dry Ale Yeast.
1 cup of corn sugar (for priming).


Fill the pan about 1/2 way with water. Place the grains the the sack and steep them for about 30-40 min. remove the graing and add the 2 cans of malt (if you place the cans in the sink with hot water, the malt will flow better). Crank up the heat and bring it to a boil. Be Careful It Does Not Boil Over. This would be a major mess and ruin your day. Once the boil starts, add the Cluster hops. Wait 30 minutes and add the Cascade hops. Wait 5 minutes. Cover the pot and place into a sink filled with cold water & Ice. Leave it there for 20 minutes.

While your waiting for the wort to cool, take your sanitized 6 gallon bucket and put in about 2 gallons of cool water. Bottled water would be good or tap water will also work well if you have a good supply. Pour the cooled wort into the bucket. Top it off with additional water. Leave about 4 inches of head space. Using a sanitized turkey baster, remove some wort and check the specific gravity with the Hydrometer. Do Not Pour This Back Into the Fermenter. Throw it away. Check the temperature. At about 95 degrees or less, add the 2 packets of yeast and stir with a sanatized spoon (be sure anything that comes in contact with the beer at this point has been sanitized). Cover it. Put in the rubber stopper and air lock, with a small amount of water in it. Put the bucket in a location with a constant temperature (about 60° - 75° F) and out of the sunlight. Don't open it again for 2 weeks.

Now wait as the miracle of fermentation takes place. Inside the bucket the yeast are multipling at an unbelievable rate. Consuming the sugars and converting them to Carbon Dioxide & Alcohol. Within 24 hours you should see the cover of the air lock bouncing up and down, releasing the gasses produced by the conversion process. If you purchased a Deluxe home brew kit, you may have glass Carboy's (water cooler type bottles) instead of plastic buckets. Now you can see the miracle while it's happening. The mixture actually looks like it's boiling and the yeast will raise the temperature 2°-3° (It's Alive!). Truly something to behold. I call it my science project :-)


Sanitize about 60-66 12 oz bottles by soaking them for 30 minutes, in a sloution of 1-2 oz bleach in 5 gallons of water. Rinse with hot tap water and let dry. Sanitize the 5 gallon bottling bucket, racking cane, bottle filler, spigot and hose. Put the spigot into the bucket. Take your sanatized turkey baster (I hope you bought a new one and your not using the same one you used on the thanksgiving turkey!), Suck out a sample and take a reading with your hydrometer (comparing the first sample, with this sample, will tell you the alcohol content). Boil 1 cup of water and add the corn sugar. Disolve completely. Pour this into the bottling bucket. Attach the hose to the racking cane, fill the hose/cane with water and siphon the beer from the fermenter into the bottling bucket. Try not to suck up the yeast that has settled on the bottom of the fermenter. You want to be just above it. When that's done, connect the bottle filler to the hose and the hose to the spigot. Fill and cap the bottles. Wait 2 weeks. Drink Beer. Do it again.

Recommended Reading Material:

The New Complete Joy Of Home Brewing: by - Charlie Papazian - ISBN 0-380-76366-4
Better Beer & How To Brew It: by - M. R. Reese - ISBN 0-88266-257-0
Dave Millers Home Brewing Guide: by - Dave Miller - ISBN 0-88266-905-2

Before you head back to the Home page, see what Homer Simpson thinks about all this.