How to brew beer at home easily?

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Many want to try beer brewing from pure malt at home, in their own kitchen sooner or later. We would like to introduce them a technique that requires relatively few tools. The method is called BIAB, which stands for Brew In Bag, and this name indicates the essence of the technique for us when the filtration process is solved with a mashing bag.

Home made beer

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In this article we do not present an explicit recipe but a simple, effective and high quality process for home brewing. The quality of malt can also change the quality of the beer, and we can also diversify the taste and quality of the beer with added wheat malt or caramel malt (that is not a problem for BIAB, if we use wheat malt in 80-90% of ratio), as well as with the changing of the types of the bitter hops and aroma hops, however, we can efficiently influence the taste of the beer with some other spices such as orange peel.

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Brewing with the process of BIAB is slightly different than the traditional floor malted method with filter plate, because BIAB has lower device requirements and faster than it and besides, using the BIAB process we can brew as good (or award-winning) beers as with other methods. We recommend this technique primary for beginners and for beers that cause filtration problems in traditional systems.

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However, we can expect that we will get a slightly bigger amount of dregs after cooling, and we get a slightly lower yield with using BIAB, but this can be compensated by the finer crushing of the malt.

Ingredients:

- 4 kg malt

- 15-30 g bitter hops

- 50-70 g aroma hops

- 10 g dry beer yeast

- spices (this is optional)

Device requirements:

- a pot with a capacity of 20 litres

- a mashing bag

- a fermentation bucket

- a smaller pot with a capacity of 3-4 litres, for water warming

- cooling spirals (this is optional)

The Brewing

We can brew an average of 13-15 litres of beer by a pot with capacity of 20 litres. The beer brewing starts with the process of fermentation when we convert the malt starch into sugar, and for the sake of simplicity we use a one step fermentation method. The temperature of mashing should be 64°C, for this temperature we have to add 12 litres of 70°C hot water to the 4 kg of malts.

First of all we have to fill in the 12 litres of water to the pot then warm it up to 70°C, after this we should take the mashing bag into the pot. Add the crushed malt to the hot water little by little while stirring it, and make sure not to let malt lumps to form. Because of this the operation may need two people. If everything goes perfectly, the temperature of the mixture should be just 64°C, it is not a big trouble if the mashing temperature is around of 64°C with 1-2 degrees difference. In case the difference of the temperature is higher than 1-2°C then we need to correct it with cold or hot water, or with heating.

The next step is the mashing, which claim a great care and precision from us, because we must hold the temperature of the mixture at 64°C. There are several methods available to successfully complete this operation:

- Simply cover the pot and wrap it thoroughly with a blanket to prevent it from cooling.

- We can heat the mixture up without any difficulty while stirring from time to time.

- That is also a workable solution if we put the pot in a 70°C preheated oven. In this case, no further action is necessary.

Different temperatures result in different beers, for example mashing on 62°C results in a drier beer, but mashing at higher temperature such as 70°C results in a sweeter one. At lower temperature we favour to produce of simpler sugars, and at higher temperature of more complex sugars and the beer yeast can completely digest simple sugars.

The mashing lasts for 60-90 minutes, during this time the enzymes of the malt are converting the starch into sugar. It is recommended to stir the malt sometimes for the more even heat distribution during mashing. In case we choose the method that we simply cover the pot and wrap it thoroughly we can finish the process of mashing within 1-2°C of temperature loss without any supervision.

The following step is the filtering, which in the method of BIAB consists only in pulling the mashing bag out of the pot by its cord. It can be useful if we can tie it to something above the pot, and in this way any remaining liquid drips out of it (a ladder can be a useful help in this situation). We let dripping the wort for a few minutes then change the pot below it for the fermentation bucket. After this we fill 11 litres of 78°C hot water in the bucket and then we hang the mashing bag into the hot water. We should open the mouth of the bag completely and tie it under the rim of the bucket, and then we have to stir the malt thoroughly so that the hot water can dissolve the remaining sugar from the malt grains. After the stirring we have to let the mixture rest, this process lasts for 10-15 minutes and then we finish it by pulling the mashing bag out from the water again.

After the step of filtering we have 8 litres of sweet wort in our pot and we can put it immediately to the cooker to boil it up. We produced another 11 litres of wort in our fermentation bucket with the mashing, which we have to fill into the pot, too, so in this way now we get 19 litres of wort.

From here on, the brewing goes on its traditional rout onward. Firstly we have to boil the wort up and take care not to let it run out of the pot in the first moments of boiling. And for this reason, it is good if we have a thermograph to put in the boiling mixture, so if the temperature of the wort starts to approach the 100°C do not step away from it even for a second. When the wort begins to froth we should reduce the temperature until the foaming subsides.

The boiling takes 1 hour and it has to be consistent, the wort does not need frequently bubbling but it should be really boiling. We add the bitter hops at the beginning of the boiling, and within the last 30 minutes we have to add the aroma hops (and other spices in case of we use them). The wort can be foaming when we add the hops, but apart from this the boiling requires no supervision. Depending on the heat of boiling, due to the evaporation, we can calculate with a loss of 2,5-3 litres of wort while boiling.

After the boiling the next step is the cooling.

The method of cooling can be the followings:

- Cooling with a water bath. In this case we have to put the pot into cold water, so it can be beneficial if we have a washbasin at home, but the bathtub is also perfect for this purpose. Change the cooling water to cold when it is warmed up to 30-40°C, but you can also put ice into the water. We can accelerate the cooling process with the stirring of the water, but be prepared that it will take at least 1-2 hours.

- We can also use a copper cooling spiral and this is the faster solution, in this way the cooling method will be finished within half an hour. In this case we firstly have to put the cooling spiral in to the wort 10 minutes before the end of the boiling to disinfect it. Cooling is done by continuously flowing cold water through the cooling spiral and we can also accelerate the cooling process with the stirring of the wort in this situation, too.

We have to cool the wort to 18-25°C depending on the brewer's yeast needs and after this we must filter the wort into the fermentation bucket. The simplest solution is to use dry yeast that we have to sprinkle on the top of the wort. It's very important that we should put the wort to a cool place where the temperature is between 18-20°C for 2-3 weeks long and we have to seal it so it does not come in contact with air, while the beer is being fermented. As long as the yeast is working, the beer is cloudy and it is really swirling from many bubbles. When less sugar is left in the brew, some of the yeast settles down. The beer is fermented when its density does not change for 3 days.

When we are bottling the beer it is important to leave a small amount of air in each bottle as well and put a small spoon of sugar (3 grams per half litre) into each bottle, which will be responsible for the carbonation of the beer. It's also important to use brown or green bottles, which filter out the harmful UV rays, and let the bottled beer rest for 1-2 weeks for the appropriate carbonation.

Cheers!

Donát Novák

March 2020