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Take note all you DIYers: Brewing beer from home is relatively easy with delicious results. Sedona resident (and my spouse) Daniel McCaffrey became interested after a friend in California told him about it and let him sample some of the results. “It was my chance to be a mad scientist,” he says.
Daniel was in luck. One of the Internet’s most popular home brewing stores, Homebrewer’s Outpost, happens to be headquartered in Flagstaff (801 S. Milton Road; 928-774-2499). Daniel purchased a basic home brewing kit, which contained a fermenting pail, bottling bucket, bottlebrush, siphon, bottle filler, hydrometer, bottle capper, book and more for $80. He also bought a 20-quart pot, which costs anywhere from $35 to $50. The kit came with his first set of ingredients, and Daniel chose to brew an amber ale.
Most beginners start with an extract beer, which uses syrup made from wort (unfermented beer). More experienced home brewers use partial mash or full mash brewing techniques. Here are the basic steps of the extract home brewing process:
• Bring 2.5 to 3 gallons of water to boil.
• Add your extract and stir vigorously so it doesn’t stick.
• Once you reach a full boil, add your bittering hops and boil for 60 minutes.
• Turn off the heat and let the wort cool to 70 degrees in the pot. From this point, nothing unsanitized should touch the beer.
• Transfer the wort to the sanitized fermenting pail and add your yeast. Secure the lid and shake for five minutes to aerate.
• Open the bucket and remove 8 ounces of beer. Put it into the hydrometer test tube and take your original gravity reading, which tells you how much sugar is in your beer. Seal the fermentation bucket, place the airlock on the lid and store it in a cool, dry place for five to 10 days. (Your daily gravity readings determine how long you need to store the beer. When you take the same measurement two days in a row, the beer is done.)
• Boil a quart of water with 4.5 ounces of priming sugar (corn sugar). Let it cool and add it to your bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenting pail to the bottling bucket.
• Obtain 50 clean, non-screw cap beer bottles. Sanitize the bottles, fill the bottles with beer and cap.
• Store in a cool, dry place for two weeks so that the beer becomes carbonated. Done!
Home brew is unfiltered, so you will have yeast at the bottom of your bottle, and the brew will be cloudy. Usually you’ll want to drink the beer from a glass rather than the bottle to avoid stirring up the yeast cake.
“It’s a thrill to make your own beer and pour it into a frosted glass,” says Daniel. “It’s not any cheaper than drinking a domestic beer, but when it’s yours, it tastes better.”
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