How to do my First Extract Beer
There are three main ways to make beer. Kit brewing which involves making beer using hopped extract and adding malt or dextrose; there is All Grain brewing using several kilo?s of malted grain and hops and there is extract brewing in which some of the malted grain is replaced with malt extract. Extract brewing gives you more control over your beer than kit brewing but with less fuss or equipment than all grain brewing.
The main ingredients you will use in extract brewing are Dry or Liquid malt extract, cracked malted grain, hops and yeast.
HOW TO DO IT
Apart from your basic fermenting equipment you will also need; a large stock pot (10 litres or bigger is fine), a cooking thermometer, a muslin grain bag or strainer and a muslin hops bag or strainer.
Put the cracked grains in the muslin grain bag.
Heat a few litres of water up to about 67 degrees (no less than 65 or more than 70), turn off the heat, and add the grain bag, put on the lid. Leave the grain to steep for 20 minutes.
If you used a grain bag, lift it out of the liquid and pour a couple of litres of warm water through the grain bag into your pot. This is called sparging and rinses out some of the fermentables that were left behind in the grain. Throw away the used grain.
If you are not using a grain bag pour the liquid, grain and all, through a strainer into a second pot. Return the liquid to the stock pot and sparge the grain as per the above instructions. Throw away the used grain. (Its great for the garden.)
Add the malt extract to the pot, stir to dissolve, top the pot up to at least ¾ full, then bring the liquid up to the boil.
Once the liquid is boiling add the bittering hops to your hops bag and tie off the top with a piece of wire or paper clip. Add this to the boiling liquid. Your recipe will tell you how long to boil your bittering hops but a general rule of thumb is that hops need to be boiled for at least 60 minutes to give your beer its bitterness.
Your recipe will recommend when to add the flavoring and finishing hops. Just fish out the hops bag, remove the wire, add the hops, rewire and replace into your wort.
Around 15 minutes before the boil ends add some finings to the pot. I normally recommend a tsp of Irish moss for a 20 litre batch. This will help the solids to settle out of your brew.
Once your boil is finished remove the hops bag and pour into a sterilised fermenter. If you did not use a hops bag strain the wort into the fermenter. Top the fermenter to the amount specified in the recipe and put the fermenter into an ice bath. (A laundry sink with ice water will work fine.)
Once the wort is cooled down to a temperature the yeast can tolerate, remove from the ice water, pitch the yeast and brew as you normally do.