Homemade Beer - How to Make Your Own Pale Ale Have you ever wanted to make your own pale ale but just can't find a good recipe or are kind of unsure of your skills when it comes to homemade beer? This article will walk you though your first pale ale from recipe design all the way to brewing. I am going to assume that you have brewed a batch or two before and are somewhat familiar with the brewing process. The Homemade Beer Recipe For this homemade beer I am assuming that you are a beginner brewer and are not set-up to do all grain brewing. Therefore this recipe will be an extract recipe with some specialty grains being steeped. We will also be doing a partial boil and topping off in the fermenter. Some people find this method to be "taking the easy way" out but most beginning brewers don't have an eight gallon brewing kettle they can boil in. If you do, great then do a full boil but if not don't worry about. The first step in doing a recipe is to identify the style guidelines. Note that some people who make homemade beer don't really follow any style guidelines but I find it helpful to do so. Since we have decided on a pale ale style beer we know that we have to hit the following numbers: Original Gravity: 1.032 - 1.040 Final Gravity: 1.007 - 1.011 IBUs: 25 - 35 SRM: 4 - 14 If you don't know what all these numbers mean let me clarify it for you. Original Gravity is the gravity of the beer before it ferments. Final Gravity is the gravity of the beer after it ferments. By looking at the difference between original gravity and final gravity we can estimate our alcohol content. IBUs are International Bittering Units and are a measure of how bitter a beer is. The higher the IBUs the more bitter taste present in the beer. SRM is the measure of a beer's color. The higher the SRM the darker the beer. I know this is an overly simplified explanation but the purpose of this exercise is to learn the process. We can also add the understanding of the science later. Next we need to determine our batch size. For this article I am going to assume that we are doing five gallons per batch. Now that we have our style guidelines and batch size it's time to pick out the ingredients. The actual calculations for determine if we hit our style guidelines is beyond the scope of this article. If you are really interested in the calculations I suggest picking up a good homemade beer book. However, understanding that is not really all that important as most recipes are already calculated for a five gallon batch. So our ingredients are going to be as follows: 6.25 lbs of Briess Light Dry Malt Extract 4.5 ounces of Cascade hop pellets 1.0 lb of Crystal 15L malt 0.6 oz of Chocolate malt Nottingham Dry Yeast Once you have your ingredients picked it it's time to establish the hop schedule or at what points during the boil you are going to add hops. Some beers have you add all the hops at once when the beer starts boiling but the majority of beer recipes have you add hops at various intervals. The reason for this is that the longer hops are boiled the more bitterness they impart to the beer and the less aroma. That is why you frequently hear people talking about bittering hops and aroma hops. We will be adding the hops according to this schedule. 1.5 oz at 60 minutes 1.5 oz at 10 minutes 1.5 oz at 1 minute The times are notated as time remaining so you will add 1.5 oz at the start of the boil, 1.5 oz when there is 10 minutes left in the boil, and 1.5 oz for the last minute of boiling. That's it - we have designed a pale ale homemade beer recipe. It's time to move on to the brewing process. The Homemade Beer Brewing Process Note: I am going to skip over the sanitation part of the process. If you have never brewed before you need to sanitize everything that will touch the beer with a chemical sanitizer such as OneStep. Your local home brew store will have more information. The first step is to crush your specialty grains. I prefer to use a rolling pin for this part. If you picked up a grain bag you can just place all your grains in the bag, tie it off, and crush with a rolling pin. If you didn't then put the grains in a plastic bag, crush, and dump in the kettle. If you went with the second option you will have to strain the grains before you boil the beer. If you boil the beer with the grains in the pot you will get a really astringent off flavor. Since we are doing a partial boil we need to fill our four gallon stock pot about 3/4 of the way with clean water. Put the pot on the stove on high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and add the dry malt extract. Stir really well so as to dissolve all the clumps that will form. A word of caution - dry malt extract is extremely sticky. Once the extract is fully dissolved bring the pot back to a boil. Once a boil is reached, add the first hops to the kettle and sit a timer for 60 minutes. At the 10 minute mark, add the second hops to the kettle. At the last minute (literally) add the remaining hops. Your kettle will want to boil over but since it makes a huge mess I highly recommended stirring frequently to keep it from doing so. That first hop additional is going to be especially eventful - the foam on top will turn green and start expanding rapidly. Once the timer goes off we will need to cool the beer down to 70 degrees as fast as possible. I recommend an ice bath in the sink. Fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes, then cover the kettle and let sit. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to cool the beer down if you change water and ice every ten minutes. If your kettle is an enamel kettle it is going to take closer to an hour to cool it down to the proper level. After the beer reaches 70 degrees pour it into the fermenter. At this stage we want to aerate the beer as much as we can to help fermentation to start. I prefer to whisk the beer to aerate and some advanced brewers use an aquarium pump to pump air into the beer. Once the beer is aerated top off the five gallons and take a hydrometer reading. To take the reading fill up your sample tube from the fermenter and place the hydrometer in the tube. Let it float for a minute and then take a reading from the water line. This is going to be your original gravity. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the beer in the fermenter and stir well. Seal it up the fermenter and place your airlock (half full with water) in the hole in your lid. Place the fermenter in a dark location that is a steady 68 to 70 degrees. Congratulations! You just brewed a batch of homemade pale ale beer. Jesse Seymour is an avid homemade beer maker who loves to teach the craft to others. Get more of his helpful advice at his homemade beer blog.
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