South Africans love beer - there’s no denying it. Beer is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyed alcoholic beverages at braais, parties and even just as a little reward at home after a long day at the office.
With all that beer-drinking going on, and people’s inherent need to experiment, home-brews are naturally the next step for experimental beer lovers. Could you be a backyard master brewer? Here are a few tips on how it’s all done:
- The equipment you’ll need:
- Fermenter (plastic bucket)
- Funnel and strainer (If you use malt extract this is not required)
- Siphon Hose
- Airlock and stopper
- Beer bottle, caps and a Capper
- The ingredients you’ll need:
- Malt extract: Activates the enzymes that are used in the brewing process. It serves as a nutrient and complex sugar source for the yeast. (Malt extract is already converted and just needs to be diluted with hot water). Malt extract comes in two forms; dried malt extract (DME) or liquid malt extract (LME). 1 kg DME is about equal to 1.5 kg LME.
- Hops: Used to give beer its bitterness, aroma and additional flavours.
- Yeast: Used in the fermenting process to convert the sugar in the malt extract into alcohol and carbon dioxide
- Water: It is preferable to use filtered water as opposed to water from the tap which may have high levels of chlorine. Heating water also assists in removing Chlorine.
- Sugar (dextrose or sucrose).
- Sanitise your equipment. Unclean equipment can influence the flavour of your beer. It is best to use an available sanitising product such as chlorine, or bleach (plain not scented). Remove the sanitiser residual by rinsing with cooled boiled water.
- The following is a basic beer recipe for a Pale Ale:Mild Pale Ale1.5kg of LME or 1 kg DME. (OG of 1.038 - 1.053)22L of water20 to 30grams of hops to add bitterness and aroma1 packet of dry ale yeast (available from home brewing shops on line)
- Heat water in a big pot (3 to 4 litres minimum). Add LME or DME and stir to dissolve. This solution is now called wort. Once totally dissolved boil for 1 hour. Add your hops at the start of boil. Some aroma hops may be added 5 min before the end of your 1 hour boil.
- When heating the wort make sure that it does not over boil. During the boiling process, proteins in the wort coagulate and form sticky foam that rises to the surface. To prevent over boiling do not over heat, control temperature to achieve a rolling boil. Be careful as the boil can be unpredictable and over boiling happens very easily.
- At the end of boil cool the pot down by placing it in ice water. Very important from this point onwards work as clean as possible sterilising anything you bring into contact with your wort. Cool the wort to below 25 degree celsius. Transfer it to your fermentation bucket. Try not to include the hops residuals during this transfer. Now add the rest of your water to the fermenter.
- Fermentation is the most important part of beer making. Ensure that your wort is at room temperature before adding the yeast. Follow dry yeast preparation instructions to rehydrate the yeast. Some dry yeasts products do not need rehydration and can be added directly to the fermenter. Once the yeast is added, place in a cool dark area where sunlight can’t affect the fermentation process. Stable temperatures are vital in the fermentation process. The air lock or bubbler on your bucket should start bubbling within 24hrs indicating your fermentation is on the way. Initial fermentation could take anything from 1 week to 10 days. No activity evident on your bubbler for more than 48 hours is a good indicator that the fermentation is complete.
- Ensure your bottles are washed and cleaned before use. Before transferring the beer to the bottles via a syphon add some sugar to bottle (rule of thumb 1 teaspoon per 750ml). Extra sugar is added to the beer and the left over yeast carbonises the sugar giving the beer its fizz. There are other methods of adding the sugar but this is by far the easiest for a new brewer.
- The beer then needs to be stored. Store your beer in a warm place (21-27C) during the carbonation process. This could take about 7 to 10 days. Once your beer is carbonated, store it in a cool place before chilling. Do not over fill your bottles. Rule of thumb double the headspace in the top of the bottle compared to the commercial product that was in it before. The beer needs room for CO2 to evolve and re dissolve into the beer otherwise your bottles could burst!
Now, open up one of your delicious homemade beers, pour it into a chilled glass and enjoy the fruits of your labour.