Getting Into Craft Brewing - Part III - The Ingredients

Apr 18, 2012

Good golly - you're really going to do it!  Good for you.  I could tell by the way you read you're a smart cookie :-)

Now that you have all the necessary equipment, and are equipped with your basic brewing instructions, we have to pick out a kit to start with.  If you'd rather skip the kit (where all the ingredients are mixed together for you), and go right into more advanced brewing, find the intermediate brochure and start from there.

For everyone else, you'll need to pick out a "beer kit" to start with, and you'll be choosing from two basic types:

a) a can of hopped extract
b) an all-grain wort kit in a box                                       ps: 'wort' just means unfermented beer

This is what a can of hopped extract looks like:

Neat huh?  This little baby will make 23 litres (about 3x24's) of beer in as little as two weeks.  Thing is, on its own, it'll produce about only 2½% alcohol by volume.  You need to add something to it, to get it up nearer 5%.  Again you have two basic choices:

a) 1 kilogram of corn sugar (dextrose)
b) 1.2 kilograms of malt extract

In a nutshell, add sugar if you want to keep it as light as possible (body, flavour, colour) and add more malt if you want a fuller flavoured beer with more body, flavour and head-retention.  (Personally, I'd always recommend malt over sugar)

The second beer kit option is a bag-in-box, all grain wort kit.  These usually contain 23 litres of unfermented beer, so all you have to do is add the yeast to it in your fermenter -- could NOT be easier!  The bonus: these kits are made right from base grain (as opposed to a concentrated extract) so you should be making the highest quality beer possible.  Everyone has their own tastes, so you'll have to give both formats a try.

Unlucky you!