Step 2: Prep Work

The beer kit itself comes with various components, some of which are consistent across kits and other components that are specific to the variety you are making.  In this case, we’re making a Honey Brown, so it has a few “extras” to it.  The most important components that come with each kit are:

  • Malt extract – the sugar that the yeast end up acting on for fermentation
  • Hops – gives beer it’s “flavor” and the bitter taste you find in many Pale Ales
  • Yeast – dry or liquid
  • Priming sugar – regular ol’ sugar used in the bottling process

You’ll see that there are a few extra components in this kit, including a “mixed grain” product that we will steep in the water prior to the boiling of the malt, as well as honey for the, you know, “Honey” part of “Honey Nut Brown.” The assorted grains include chocolate, as well, providing another interesting, yet subtle, flavor for the beer.

The kit arrived at home while I was at work, but Brooke was kind enough to remove the liquid yeast from the packaging.  The yeast is the only component (usually) that needs to be refrigerated until you’re ready to prime them, but Brooke thankfully bypassed that and went ahead and got them started.  You’ll see that it comes in a little bag that looks flat, yet after you break a small ampule on the inside of the bag (by smacking the bag with your hand)…

…you get this within a few hours sitting out on our porch in the sun (i.e. it needs a relatively warm place for this part). As Brooke points out, you are effectively just “priming” the yeast as you would with any bread recipe. If you get dry yeast, you have to prime them like you do bread, but if you get the liquid yeast, you do it all in one cute little packet. Once it blows up to this level, though, you can use it.

The rest of the kit is pretty straightforward. Technically, this part is a separate kit: I ordered a “Brewing Kit” (pictured here) and then the actual “Beer kit” (first picture above), so they were actually different products. This bottom one is the portion I will re-use for other beer varieties.  I’ll probably hit up these different components as I use them in this series of posts, but I’ll point out a few items now:

  • Two buckets – one for fermenting and one for priming and bottling
  • Plastic tubing – mostly for use in the bottling process
  • Bottle capper and caps –  so you can save any ol’ non-twist top beer bottles and re-cap them with this system.  Woooo, recycling!
  • Cleaning solution – ’cause you need to ferment your beer in clean stuff.

In the next post, I’ll show some pictures of the actual brewing process, but bear in mind that these steps are very, very important.  The yeast need to be ready before you can start the brewing process, so a few hours need to be allotted to allow them to prime.  Secondly, all the equipment pictured above must be sterile, otherwise you can introduce some bad flavors to your beer.  I’m not going to show pictures of the sterilization process, as that would be very boring, but just keep in mind that any item that comes in contact with your beer needs to be sterilized.  You can’t over-sterilize your equipment.

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