Extract Brewing

For a change we will be covering not all grain brewing but the most basic type of brewing which utilizes malt extracts. No one should start brewing by jumping into all grain, it's just not a good idea. Like with any hobby, it's best to start small before you dump a bunch of money into equipment that only a seasoned hobbyist could appreciate and use efficiently. Rather than getting frustrated with something more complicated, try out extract brewing first. if you love it, then you'll find plenty of information here to help you expand upon your new found skills and passions.

Keep it Simple and brew an ale, lagers add more complexity and often require more equipment. If you want to really have a stress free brew that will almost definitely turn out great, brew a light body, red ale - the color and medium sweetness will hide most imperfections a first brew will inevitably have. There are plenty of places out there to find easy extract recipes but my recommendations would be to check out the one below:

6 lbs Extra Light Dried Malt Extract
1 lbs CaraRed
8 oz Biscuit Malt
4 oz Crystal 120 L
4 oz Chocolate Malt
1 oz Northern Brewer Hops (60 minutes)
.5 oz Willamette Hops (30 minutes)
Irish Moss (15 minutes)
.5 oz Willamette Hops (5 minutes)

If this is Your First Brew then you'll need some materials as well, checkout my post over here with lots of links to all the stuff you need. Make sure you buy the ingredients and the gear at the same time - MoreBeer.com gives you free shipping on almost all orders of $59!

Ignore all the other crap you've heard and all the worries you might have, things will be fine. It helps to have a beer while you brew, but don't be an idiot - you are going to need at least half your wits about you for this.

Steep the grains, using a muslin bag, in 3.5 gallons of 155 F water for 30 minutes to extract some color, body and flavor. Remove the grains and discard. Note: DO NOT squeeze the grains, that will let out far too many tanins, just let it drain on its own.

Add water to bring the volume back up to 3.5 gallons and bring the pot to a near boil and whisk in the extract until dissolved, we don't want any on the bottom of the pot. Bring the wort (unfermented beer) to a boil while watching for boil-overs (stirring does not help!). If things get crazy, lower the heat and allow the tempest to calm before you bring it back up to a rolling but not vigorous boil.

Once you have a solid boil, get out your timer, add the first addition of hops and set your countdown for 60 minutes. Each hop addition will be added on time according to the ingredients' list. Hop additions can cause foaming, so make sure to keep an eye on the pot.

After the hop schedule is over and the 60 minutes are up, cut the heat and cool the wort as fast as you can. If you have a chiller, USE IT, if not, use snow. Barring both of those options, use a sink full of cold water and ice, stirring the wort with a sanitized utensil to speed up cooling. If you really have no way to cool the wort, just keep it covered to keep out bacteria. While cooling do make sure to not let anything unsanitzed get into the pot, you want this beer clean.

Pitch the wort into your sanitized bucket once it has reached about 80 F, then add the yeast. Cover the bucket, put on the air-lock and store it in a completely dark place, cover it with towels if you must! Wait two weeks and bottle it.

You've got beer, well done.