The Complete Guide to Making Beer at Home

Our Test Kitchen chef Nicolas, who’s a true beer lover, also developed a keen interest in how to make it, like his easy recipe for homemade cilantro and orange beer. Before embarking on this beer-making adventure, however, we thought you might need to check out our “little” guide, which addresses everything you need to know in order to make that first pint a success.

From the materials to the ingredients, the steps to follow and the bottling, you’ll discover everything there is to know about making beer. For those who are still hesitant to embark on this type of project, we also compiled the most commonly asked questions about making beer, to better understand what you’re getting into before buying the necessary materials and ingredients! Are you ready? Welcome to the world of home-brewing!

The necessary equipment

beer-making equipment

1. Funnel

We suggest using one that’s 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter.

2. Fine sieve

Have one that is at least 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, with one or more hooks.

3. Probe thermometer

It will be useful for you to take the temperature of the water when cooling the wort.

4. Fermenter

Fermentation is done in a container of at least 20 cups (5 litres) (Nicolas used the 45-cup/11.4 litre container), with a rubber cap. The brew is left there for 3 weeks.

5. Bubbler

Also known as hydraulic leap, this tube allows gases that develop in the fermenter to escape while preventing air from entering.

6. Star San© and vaporizer

This acidic product is professional food-grade quality and is used to sanitize instruments and prevent contamination. Aseptox is another good option.

7. Automatic siphon

This is used for beer extraction. Choose a model that is at least 16 inches (40 cm) long with a hose about 3 feet (1 metre) long.

8. Spring filler

Attached to the end of the siphon, this accessory is useful when transferring beer into bottles.

9. Bottles

You’ll need 8 for this recipe. It is recommended that you choose amber glass bottles (16 oz/500 ml) and mechanical cap. This will prevent you from having to equip yourself with a capsule.

10. Densimeter and graduated test tube

Simple and practical, this instrument can measure the density of the beer in order to calculate its alcohol content. The test tube (7 oz/200 ml) is used to take the sample.

The necessary ingredients

beer ingredients

1. Crushed malted wheat grains

Malted wheat is suitable for white and session beer, and gives it a fresh bread flavour and a slight acidity.

2. Crushed Carambeer© malt grains

This specialty malt from Germany adds depth to the colour of the beer with its red highlights, and gives it pleasant notes of caramel and bread. Otherwise, use a 20 L caramel malt (Lovibond).

3. Malt extract

Available as a liquid concentrate or powder (the latter being easier to measure), malt extract also comes in several colours, which are chosen according to the type of beer to be made.

4. Simcoe hop granules

Native to the United States, these aromatic hops offer notes of apricot and pine. Citra and Galaxy hops are other options for this recipe.

5. Yeast

Lallemand Belle Saison yeast is ideal for the production of seasonal beers.

6. Dextrose

Added just before bottling, it reactivates the yeast and promotes the natural carbonation of the beer.

7. Cilantro

The stems and leaves are used to flavour this summer beer.

8. Dried orange

The dried bitter orange peels give the beer a slight fruity taste and add bitterness. Go to the next page to find out where to buy the equipment and ingredients.

The steps for preparation of the wort

1. Mashing

The crushed malt grains are soaked in hot water to extract the starch and turn it into sugar.

step 1 - mashing

2. Filtering sequence

The infusion is filtered with a fine sieve that collects grain residues in order to recover the must. The operation is repeated by pouring the liquid through the grains each time.

step 2 - filtering sequence

3. Cooking the must

Water and malt extract are added to the filtered must, then the mixture is boiled before the hop granules are added.

step 3 - cooking the must

4. Sanitary precautions

From the moment the must has boiled, all instruments are washed, rinsed carefully and treated with a sanitizer.

step 4 - sanitary precautions

5. Cooling the must

After cooking, the must is cooled quickly in an ice bath until the temperature reaches 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).

step 5 - cooling the must

6. Transfer to the fermenter

The cooled must is transferred to the fermenter, always filtering it with a sieve that is placed on top of a funnel.

step 6 - transfer to the fermenter

7. Sowing

It is at this stage of the process that the yeast is added, which will feed on the sugars during fermentation. It is dissolved with a germ-free spoon.

step 7 - sowing

8. Setting up the bubbler

This instrument, filled with water, fits into the fermenter’s cap to release carbon dioxide and prevent air from entering.

step 8 - setting up the bubbler

9. Adding aromatics

Orange peel and cilantro are added on the 18th day of fermentation, 3 days before bottling.

step 9 - adding aromatics

The bottling steps

1. Preparing the syrup

Dextrose crystals, a sweetener equivalent to table sugar, are dissolved in boiling water.

step 1 - preparing the syrup

2. Tanking

The beer is removed from the fermenter by raising it. While doing so, make sure not to touch surface residues or sediments at the bottom of the container.

step 2 - tanking

3. Adding syrup

The dextrose syrup, which is cooled during the tanking of the beer, is poured into the mixture just before bottling.

step 3 - adding the syrup

4. Filling

It’s now time to fill the bottles, which is done using an automatic siphon with a spring filler at the end.

step 4 - filling the bottles

Finally, after all this information, you’ll be ready to start your own home-brewing adventure. Bottoms up!