Home Brew 101: Brew Day Basics

Now that you’ve got all of the home brewing equipment and ingredients for your recipe, it’s time to get down and dirty.

Here’s the basics for brew day, but the details may vary depending on the recipe.

Have Everything That You Need?
Make sure that you have everything that you need to brew your beer. This includes equipment and ingredients. Once you get started, it’s too late to notice that you’re missing something. For the most part, you can’t stop the process in the middle and run to the store to get what you’re missing.

Is Your Equipment Clean?
Before you can sanitize your equipment, it has to be cleaned. Check it for dirty, debris or anything along those lines.

Now The Fun Begins
Fill your pot with two gallons of water or approximately two-thirds full if you have something smaller or larger than a three gallon pot.

It’s Getting Hot In Here
Turn the burner on medium-high. Cover it so it heats quicker.

Have Cans?
Remove the labels, lids and put them into a second pot of water. Heat them on medium to liquify them so that you can pour them into your brew later. If you don’t have cans, and have a liquid you don’t have to worry about this step.

It’s Getting Really Hot In Here
Once the water is boiling in your main (brew) pot, it’s time for the fun to start. Turn off the heat under the other pot and remove the cans from the water. Open up the cans (or liquid extract) and pour as much possible of the extract into the water in the main pot. Use a large spoon or spatula to scrape as much as possible. Stir the extract until it dissolves into the water.

You now have what they call wort, or the unfermented sugars that will turn into alcohol later. Turn up the temperature now and bring your wort to a boil. (Pay attention to the details, some recipes require you to keep the temperature at closer to a simmer.) For the next hour, you’ll need to stir the beer regularly to avoid the wort from scorching. More importantly, keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t brew over. Some recipes will also have you adding grains, hops or other ingredients during this hour.

Time To Sanitize
As clock starts ticking down, it’s time to make sure all of your equipment is sanitized. My favorite sanitizer is Star San because it doesn’t require you rinse it clean. Whatever kind of sanitizer you have, use it now to sanitize your fermenting bucket, lid, spoon, hydrometer and thermometer. From this point on, you’re going to have make sure everything (including your hands) is sterile and sanitized.

The Big Chill
Turn off the burner and place a lid on the pot. Now, you’ll have to cool down your wort to about 80 degrees (temperature varies depending on what kind of yeast you’re using. The easiest way to cool down your wort is to place your pot in a sink and fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes. Repeat the process every five minutes until your wort is cooled. When the brew pot is cool enough to touch or your thermometer tells you that you’re in the right range, it’s time to pour your wort into the fermentation bucket.

Wet And Wild
Add enough cold, clean water to bring your wort to five gallons in the fermentation bucket. This is when you want to use bottled or filtered water.

Give It Some Air
Stir your wort with a large soup spoon (or something similar) to aerate. The yeast will need lots of oxygen to reach it’s fullest potential.

Hydrometer Reading
A hydrometer reading is optional, but it’s pretty useful info to have. Take your hydrometer reading and write it down someplace safe.

First Pitch
Now it’s time to pitch your yeast, or in other words throw it into your fermentation bucket with your yeast.

Put A Lid On It
Place the lid on your bucket and attach the airlock to the lid.

The Waiting Game
Put your bucket in a cool, dark place. Fermentation begins within two or three days and will last seven to ten days. Don’t rush it, sit back and relax while your wort is turning into beer.

There’s really much more detail that I can go into, but this should be enough to get you through the big first day!


I'm a former coffee blogger, but I’ve been getting to know some really good craft beers and really getting into home brewing. I couldn’t resist starting this little project called Passion For The Pint. When I’m not blogging about coffee or beer, you can find me exploring New Orleans’ wide range of eateries, rooting for the New York Yankees (don’t hate me, I’m originally from New York), working out to burn off the beer calories or reading about beer.

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