To make your home fermentable experience more enjoyable, experiment a bit. Get out and try local beers. Try different styles and types of beer. You’re not going to like them all, and your going to run into situations where somebody likes a certain type of beer you can’t stand. Keep in mind that before long, by tasting different types and styles of beer, you will find yourself identifying the different flavors and what produces them. The fact that you have decided to home brew tells me you are already curious about the flavor of beer, so let’s dive in!
  Before we get started on your “First Born Pale Ale”, I’m going to cover a few simple things about the equipment in this kit, and what it is used for. Then we can start working this recipe together and learn as we go. Hopefully you can learn how to make great beer, and I can learn how to better teach this age old art of natural fermentation.
  This equipment kit comes with two 6 1/2 gallon buckets and 1 plastic lid with a rubber grommet in it. One of the buckets has a hole towards the bottom for a spigot. This is your bottling bucket. You will use this when it comes time to bottle or package your beer. We’ll cover that a little later on. The other bucket is your fermentation bucket. This is the bucket you will be putting your wort into. “Wort” is the freshly brewed, but not yet fermented, beer. When the wort is the right temperature, you’ll add yeast and ferment it into beer.
  The kit also comes with what is referred to as a “winger” bottle capper. This is a double lever capper, hence the name “winger”. This capper will only work on standard beer bottles. It is quite simple to use. You simply take a cap and put it up in the bell. There is a magnet in the bell to hold the cap in place. Now just set the capper on the top of the bottle and pull the levers down. You will feel the cap crimp on the top of the bottle. There is no need to apply too much force. It is probably a good idea to practice on a few bottles before you get started with your bottling. “Beer Emergencies” can add thrill to the hobby, but they can sometimes take the fun out of it, too.
  You also have what is referred to as a “racking cane”. The term “rack”, in terms of fermenting beer and wine, literally means to “draw off” the liquid from the sediment at the bottom of the fermentation vessel, in our case the fermentation bucket. The term “cane” comes from the fact that it looks like a cane. It is a straight hard plastic tube with a bend at the top of it. On the bottom side of the racking cane is a black tip. This is important, as this is the part that allows you to draw the beer off from above the sediment rather than pulling the sediment off the bottom of the vessel. The sediment is by-products from the yeast and the fermentation process, and it is not good for the flavor of finished beer. This kit comes with an Auto Siphon and a 5’ siphon hose that connects to the top or curved part of the cane. We’ll talk more about how to start the siphon later.
  Next you will see the 15” bottle filler. It is a straight tube with a “gravity feed” valve at the bottom of it. You will need to cut off about an inch of your siphon hose to connect the filler to the spigot on the bottling bucket. The filler is designed to fill the beer bottle from the bottom up so as not to oxygenate your beer. Once you have it connected to the spigot, open the spigot and run the bottle up the filler until the filler has reached the bottom of your bottle and opens the “gravity feed” valve. Fill your bottle to the very top. When you pull the filler out of the bottle, the displacement of the filler will leave the proper amount of head space to cap your beer. Again, it never hurts to practice first. We’ll talk about this again when it’s time to bottle.
  Next we come to the airlock. It is what is called a 3 piece airlock because it is 3 pieces. Piece one is the body, piece two is the cradle and fits over the inside stem of the body, and the third piece is the cap which snaps on the top of the body to hold the cradle in place. As soon as you put the wort in your fermenter you will fill this to the line in the middle of the body with clean, filtered water, place the cradle over the inside stem and snap the plastic lid in place. Then push the airlock into the drilled hole in the top of the fermentation bucket. This airlock allows the CO2 produced by the yeast to escape while preventing outside air and bacteria from getting in. Bacteria is what we refer to as “wort spoilers”, and we’ll talk about keeping wort spoilers from reaching our beer as we move along, which brings us to the next item in the kit, iodophor.
  In the kit you will find a 4 ounce bottle of dark liquid labeled Iodophor. Iodophor is a “no rinse” sanitizer. If you have internet access, please take a minute to go to brewersconnection.com and read the article entitled “Iodophor??”, that can be found by clicking on the “Class Room” link. It is extremely important to stay wort spoiler free throughout this entire process, and iodophor makes that easy. I always have a solution of it around me while I’m working with my beer. The solution mix is 1/2 ounce iodophor to 5 gallons of COLD water. The solution, when properly mixed, will have a copper tint in the water, sort of like a Pale Ale.
  Next is the hydrometer. The hydrometer is an instrument used in measuring the approximate amount of sugar content in the wort. This information can then be useful when calculating the potential alcohol content in your end product. After we get started we’ll discuss this more.
  As for the last item on the list, instructions and tips, you’re reading them now.
  Now we will get started putting your "First Brew" together.
  First you will need to pour the grain from its packaging into the muslin bag. The muslin bag is a cheesecloth looking bag. All of the grains will fit into it. After you have placed all the grain into the bag, tie it shut with a knot. Add 2 gallons of filtered water to your brew pot. Now add the Brew Saltz to your water and heat to 160 degrees. The Brew Saltz will harden the water a tad and aid in the settling of suspended particulate matter. After the water has reached 160 degrees, turn off the heat and add the grain bag. Stabilize your temperature at 155 degrees while stirring gently from time to time for 25 minutes. It is not imperative to maintain exactly 155, you may fluctuate between 152*F and 158*F. Never go over 165 degrees, however, to avoid pulling tannins from the husks in the grains. Doing this will add astringent flavors to your beer and may cause haziness.
  While you’re steeping the grains for this recipe, it’s a good time to start sanitizing your fermenter. Fill the fermentation bucket full of cold water and add 1/2 ounce of iodophor. Let the fermenter soak during the brewing process. Throw the airlock into the solution as well.
  After the steeping process is complete, remove the grain bag and let it drain into the wort. If you have a kitchen strainer, put it over the pot and rest the grain bag in it. Do not squeeze the grain bag! Again, you want to avoid leeching out any of the tannins from the husks of the grain. Think of it like making tea, it’s improper to squeeze the tea bag. With that said, you will need to rinse the grains slightly. You can do this by pouring 1 cup of HOT tap water slowly over the grain bag.
  Now you have 2 gallons of wort (pronounced “Vert”). With the heat off, add the malt extract. The malt extract you will be using in this recipe is plain light dry malt extract. Dry malt extract, sometimes called spray malt or DME, is created by a process where malted barley has been mashed and converted to wort. Then that wort is cooked down to a thick syrup and spray dried to a powdered form. As you add it to your wort, it will clump up.
  After you have added the DME, turn the heat back on and while stirring, bring the wort to a boil. As the wort begins to boil and just starts to bubble and break the surface, turn off the heat and add the first 1/2 ounce of Warrior hops. This kit comes with 1 one-ounce package. You will need to split this in half. Simply open the package of hops and pour out onto a plate. Make 2 equal piles. This first addition of hops is known as your bittering hops. When boiling, you create a condition that allows a chemical reaction known as “isomerization” to occur. Alpha acids, or bittering resins, are not soluble in water. This isomerization allows these resins to become soluble and mix with sweet wort, hopefully creating a refreshing and delicious bitter-sweet flavor.
  Turn the heat back on and while stirring, bring the wort back to a boil. Make note of the time your boil starts. Make sure your boil is a calm boil. Do not boil too hard. Be ready to turn your heat down as the surface of the wort begins to roll. Be careful not to “boil over”. Remember, the main ingredient in this recipe, DME, has already been cooked once before. You want to avoid scorching or caramelizing any of the malt sugars. These caramelized sugars will become unfermentable for the yeast.
  After 50 minutes of boil, you will need to add the remaining 1/2 oz of the Warrior hops along with the Irish Moss. Irish Moss, which is basically sea weed, is a clarifying agent. It works on the ion principle. Irish Moss introduces a negative ion into the wort. The proteins in the wort carry a positive ion and therefore attract to each other and then become heavy enough to drop out of suspension during the fermentation. Boil 5 more minutes and turn off the heat.
  This final addition of hops is known as the aroma or finishing hops. They impart flavor and bouquet. This comes from the hop oils within the lupulin gland, and is soluble in water. They are very volatile, and their essence will boil away. This is why they are added at the very end of the boil.
  Now that you have finished preparing the wort, pour the Iodophor solution from your fermentation bucket to your bottling bucket. This solution will be used to dip your hands and anything else which may come in contact with the wort as we proceed. Go ahead and pour it over the lid of the fermenting bucket and get it sanitizing as well. There is no rinsing needed. It is extremely important that everything that comes in contact with the wort from this time on is sanitized.
  Now pour the wort into the fermentation bucket. Add 3.25 gallons of COLD filtered water to top off to 5 gallons. You will lose about a quart during the boil process. The reason you want as cold of water as possible is to cool the wort to below 80 degrees as soon as possible. You may even consider using some ice as long as it is the clean filtered water type ice. 8 pounds = one gallon of water. The sooner you can get the yeast in the wort, the less possibility of wort spoilers getting in. Remember, it is extremely important that everything that comes in contact with the wort from this time on is sanitized, including the thermometer you are checking the temperature with. Make sure you dip or soak everything that comes in contact with the wort in your Iodophor solution.
  Now that you have your wort in the fermenter, splash the inside of the lid well with iodophor solution. Place the lid on the bucket and place your thumb over the hole in the stopper and shake the wort vigorously. Now you are ready to take a sample for a hydrometer reading so you can determine the original gravity. The best way to get your sample is to use a small glass or measuring cup. First soak the glass or cup in your iodophor solution for at least 5 minutes. It is extremely important that everything that comes in contact with the wort from this time on is sanitized. Now open the fermenter and reach in and get a sample. Put the lid back on and prepare to pitch the yeast. If your wort temperature is still above 80 degrees, another method for cooling your wort is to place your plastic fermenter in a tub of cold or ice water. Do not pitch the yeast until the temperature of the wort is BELOW 80 degrees.
  Adding the yeast to your wort is referred to as “pitching the yeast”. The first thing you will need to do is NOT pay attention to the instructions on the back of the yeast package. There is no need to rehydrate the yeast. Once you have gotten your wort to cool to 80 degrees or lower, sprinkle the yeast on top of the wort. Replace the lid and place your thumb over the hole in the stopper and rock back and forth vigorously for a few minutes. After this, add Iodophor solution to the airlock up to the fill line, put the inner piece in it, and the plastic cap on the top, and place the airlock in the drilled stopper in the lid.
  Now let’s see how you did. Let’s check your specific gravity. If you look at the hydrometer, you will see 3 scales. Look for the specific gravity scale or SP-GR scale. It is the scale that starts with .999 on the top and can go as high as 1.170 on the bottom. The hydrometer measures the density or thickness of liquid relative to water. The specific gravity of water at 60 degrees is 1.000. The original specific gravity, or O.G. for this recipe should be about 1.050. So take the cover off the hydrometer tube and pour the sample you pulled out earlier into it. As it fills you will see the hydrometer float. Fill to the top. Where the surface of the liquid lines up on the hydrometer specific gravity scale is your reading.
  The alcohol scale measures the approximate amount of alcohol expressed as a percentage that will be present in the beer when fermentation is complete. Two readings must be taken. You now have the one before the yeast is pitched, or the original gravity, O.G. Then you will take another reading when fermentation has ceased. This reading is referred to as the finishing gravity or F.G. With this recipe the F.G. should be 1.010. Rotate the hydrometer clockwise and the corresponding reading to 1.010 is 1.5% alcohol by volume. We take 6.5% - 1.5% = 5%. Alcohol by volume will be approximately 5%.
  As mentioned above, most hydrometers are calibrated to read accurately at 60 degrees. If your wort is not at this temperature, you’ll need to adjust your readings according to the correction figures below. For example, if the temperature is 77 degrees you add 2 points: 1.050 + .002 = 1.052.
  Specific Gravity Corrections:
 
 
Degrees F
Correction
 
 
40
-.001
 
 
50
-.0005(1/2 point)
 
 
60
0
 
 
70
+.001
 
 
77
+.002
 
 
84
+.003
 
 
88
+.004
 
 
95
+.005
 
 
100
+.006
 
 
.110
+.008
 
 
Over 120
Give up and guess!
 
 
Now that we’ve covered the hydrometer, what’s next? What’s next is fermenting your beer properly. Fermentation temperature is important. To keep it simple, I’ll explain it like this. An ale yeast is a top fermenting yeast and tends to produce a fruity flavor in the end product. With ale yeast, the ideal fermenting temperature is 66-75 degrees. Lager yeast is a bottom fermenting yeast and ferments ideally between 48-56 degrees. The flavor lager produces tends to be smoother and cleaner, as some beer geeks would say. I personally prefer ales over lagers because of the many different flavors an ale has to offer, not to mention they are much easier to brew. An ale is what we are brewing so we will be looking for a temperature range of 66-75 degrees.
 
If the temperature is lower than the yeast’s ideal range, the yeast will ferment slow and sluggish. It could even get stuck and go dormant before it is done fermenting. If the temperature is too warm, the yeast will ferment rapidly, and just like human beings, when the yeast works hard and is warm it becomes stinky and sweaty. These off flavors can be described as a buttery flavor and mouth feel.
 
Just as the proper fermentation temperature is important, so is constant temperature during the fermentation process. Yeast doesn’t much care for drastic changes. One should try to stay within 3 to 4 degrees of the same temperature. Once again, drastic temperature changes could lead to stuck or improper fermentation and this can lead to hazy beers and gushers.
 
And so by now you are probably wondering, “Where do I ferment this stuff?” Where is the best place to keep the fermenter while fermentation occurs? The ideal place to ferment is either in a basement or a root cellar. However, since these are few and far between in today’s world, several different methods have evolved. In Arizona, even thought it is hot, we have relatively low humidity. By placing the fermenter in a tub of water you can cool the fermenter or lose about 4 degrees on average. Put your fermenter in a tub of water with an old T-shirt or towel wrapped around it and lose up to 6 degrees. Now if you put a small fan blowing into the tub of water with the T-shirt wrapped fermenter you can lose up to 8 degrees. You can use a fountain pump in that tub to keep the T-shirt or towel wet with a fan blowing on it and lose up to 16 degrees. The water acts as a ballast or temperature stabilizer helping to keep a constant temperature as well. If you have any further questions about this, feel free to stop by the Brewers Connection and allow our staff to show you different ideas to help. So with all that said, I hope you now have the fermenter in an ideal spot.
 
So now what’s going to happen? After 24 hours, and provided you did everything right, you should have activity in your airlock. By then the yeast should be active and producing CO2. The CO2 should be escaping through the airlock. The center piece should be bubbling. This should continue for up to 7 days. After the airlock has gone flat, or the specific gravity reaches 1.010-1.012, you will want to bottle your beer.
 
Now it’s bottling time. Before we get started, let us practice getting a siphon started. Start by connecting the siphon hose to the racking cane as described on page 2. Fill your bottling bucket about half full with water. Set the bucket up on a counter top. The “Auto Syphon” included in this kit works by drawing liquid up into the tube as you gently pull up on the racking cane. As you gently push the cane back down, a flapper at the bottom closes and forces the liquid up the cane and down the hose, thus starting a syphon.
 
The most common problem beginners have is air in the hose where it connects to the racking cane. Just pinch the hose in the air pocket a few quick times and it should go away. One more tip, always take your siphon hose off the racking cane when you are not using it. Otherwise the hose will dry on the cane and you will be unable to remove it from the racking cane. As long as you have water in the bucket, go ahead and try the bottle filler as described earlier and also try capping off a few bottles as described earlier.
 
For bottling, you will need 54 12-ounce bottles. Make sure these bottles are clean. You should be able to look up into the bottles and see no solids. If you have an automatic dishwasher, load the bottles on the bottom rack, add 1 capful of household chlorine bleach to the dishwasher and run it on its hottest cycle with heated drying. If you don’t have a dishwasher, you will have to soak your bottles in iodophor solution. Feel free to call if you have any questions.
 
You need to make sure the area where you do your bottling is clean and free of things like dirty dishes, open trash, or old, left out food. Even though your beer is fermented out, it still has some residual sugars in it such as caramelized malts and is vulnerable to the wort spoilers. It is extremely important that everything that comes in contact with the beer from this time on is sanitized. Fill your bottling bucket with cold water and add 1/2 ounce of iodophor. Put the racking cane and siphon hose in the bucket as well. Put the bottle filler in the solution, holding the spring valve open to allow it to fill with the solution. You will also want to sanitize a glass or cup for a sample to get your F.G with.
 
Once you have everything soaking in iodophor, gently lift your fermentation bucket onto a counter top. Now you will need to prepare your priming sugar. This kit comes with 5 oz of dextrose (corn sugar). Put this into a one-cup measuring cup. In the same measuring cup add water to cover the dextrose. Microwave the mixture for 2 minutes or until the mixture is clear and you see some steam rising from it. If you do not have a microwave, you can do this on your stove top. Dump the iodophor solution out of your bottling bucket, saving some for use on things like your bottle caps. Pour the dextrose mixture into the bottling bucket. Remove the lid from your fermentation bucket. Now assemble your racking cane and siphon hose. Start your siphon into your bottling bucket on top of the dextrose mixture. Make sure you remember to pinch any air pocket in the hose to make it go away.
 
As I explained above, the black tip is important. When you place the racking cane into the fermenter, put it in one spot and do not move it. When the level gets down to where the dregs are, the siphon will stop. The remaining is waste by-product and can be thrown away. As you siphon into the bottling bucket, set your hose off to one side of the bucket so that a gentle swirling action is created. This will allow your dextrose mixture to mix in with the beer evenly. Fill the small glass or cup you have sanitized from your siphon for your hydrometer sample.
 
After you have transferred your beer to the bottling bucket, the dishwasher should be finished. Move your bottling bucket to the counter top. Gently stir with a sanitized spoon. Pull the bottles out of the dishwasher while still warm and begin filling. Remember to fill to the very top of the bottle. When you pull the filler out of the bottle, the displacement of the filler will leave the proper amount of head space to cap your beer. Have your caps close by and in an Iodophor solution. This way you are sanitizing those fingers every time you reach for a cap. It is extremely important that everything that comes into contact with the beer from this time on is sanitized. I can’t stress this enough! Iodophor used in the right strength will become your best friend in the hobby of natural fermentation.
 
Store the bottles at room temperature for 7-10 days, then chill bottles as needed and enjoy!
 
So what was the purpose of adding the dextrose? By adding the dextrose, you introduced a small amount of fermentable sugar into the beer. This will spark the yeast back to life long enough to consume the dextrose thereby creating CO2. This will carbonate the beer or, as it is often called, bottle condition the beer.
 
In closing, the staff here at the Brewers Connection is here to help you as much as we possibly can. If you follow these directions as they are written, you can’t hardly go wrong. Feel free to call us if you have any questions. I have tasted the beers made from this kit by first timers. It is easy. Just remember the key things: sanitize, sanitize, and sanitize! Oh yeah, and have fun!