This blog provides information for educational purposes only. Read our complete summary for more info.
Brewing your very first beer can seem like a daunting task. To someone unfamiliar with the process, it may seem complex at first glance, and the list of necessary ingredients and equipment might be intimidating. And that's not even mentioning the price. The investment in even the most basic "all grain" electric modular brewing system starts at about $1000. For many aspiring brewers, this is all too much.
We're passionate about beer and we've been brewing our own for a couple of decades now. But it seems like just yesterday when we were brewing our first batches of beer, and we've never forgotten how confusing it was in the beginning. To address these issues head on and make the process of brewing easy, even for a complete beginner, we designed a 1 gallon, countertop beer making kit. And it's exactly what we wish we had when we were getting started all those years ago.
The Beer Brewing Kit
A beer making kit is the simplest and most accessible way for a novice brewer to immerse themselves in the world of home brewing. This kit eliminates the need for substantial financial investments in high-priced equipment or extensive inventory of specialized ingredients. It also removes the complexity of having to construct and calculate your own recipes, which often requires specific brewing software. In short, it makes the process of brewing beer as easy as it can possibly be.
Also, we'll explain the entire process below, step by step. But if you're more of a visual learner, check out this video on our brewing kit:
The Basics of Brewing Beer
Before we dive into the actual recipe, we want to provide a brief overview of basic brewing information. Think of it as a helpful overview of the ingredients, equipment, and process. If you're already familiar, feel free to skip ahead to the beer brewing kit directions.
Key Ingredients in Beer
Water: It's the most abundant ingredient in beer, making up to about 95% of the beverage. The minerals and ions in water can influence the character and flavor of the beer. Brewers often adjust the water chemistry to suit the style of beer they're making.
Malt: Malt is essentially barley that has been soaked in water, allowed to germinate, and then dried in a kiln. It is the source of the sugar that yeast ferments into alcohol and CO2. Different types of malt contribute different colors and flavors to the beer.
Hops: These are the flowers of the hop plant. Hops add bitterness to balance the sweetness of the malt. They also provide flavor and aroma characteristics that can range from floral to citrusy to piney.
Yeast: This is a type of fungus that consumes the sugars from the malt and converts them into alcohol and CO2. This process is known as fermentation. Different strains of yeast can produce a wide range of flavors and aromas.
Beginner Brewing Equipment
Brewing a small batch of beer can mostly be accomplished using basic kitchen equipment. However, one or two specialized items are helpful as well. To be clear, our brewing kit in combination with our bottling kit includes everything needed to make a small batch of beer minus a "kettle" (a stock pot works perfectly for this), a long spoon, and a thermometer.
That said, here's a complete list of everything that is needed.
Heat Source: Hot water is a requirement for all types of brewing. For beginner kits it's hot water is used to extract flavor and aroma from steeped grain. It's used to dissolve dry malt extract. And in the middle of the brewing process, the liquid is boiled in order to extract and activate bittering compounds in hops. Boiling also has the added advantage of pasteurizing the liquid, killing unwanted bacteria. Note, it's also helpful to have a thermometer on hand.
Brewing Kettle: In commercial breweries brewing kettles are hundreds, if not thousands of gallons. For a beginner batch of beer, a 2 stock gallon pot will be plenty big enough. You'll also need a lid.
Mash Paddle: You'll need something to stir with. One of the key ingredients in beginner beers is what is called malt extract. It comes in two forms: dry and liquid. Both types share a somewhat problematic characteristic which is that they're both very sticky and take a bit of work to dissolve. We use an actual "mash paddle" in the video below, but a long spoon will do.
Fermenter: Perhaps the most important step in the process is fermentation. During this process yeast eat sugar and produce alcohol as well as carbon dioxide. So, ideally you'll use a fermenter that allows CO2 to escape without letting oxygen, wild yeast, and bacteria in. The fermenter included in our kit does just that.
- Bottling Kit: At the very end of the process finished beer will need to be bottled and carbonated. This will require bottles, caps, a bottle capper, some tubing, and a "bottling wand."
The Basic Process of Brewing Beer
Brewing beer involves several steps, but at its core, the process includes the following:
Malting: This involves soaking barley in water, allowing it to germinate, and then drying it in a kiln to produce malt.
Mashing: The malt is then soaked in hot water, a process called mashing. This step converts the remaining grain sugars into a form that the yeast can consume.
Boiling: The liquid from mashing, known as wort, is then boiled and hops are added for bitterness, flavor, and aroma.
Fermentation: The wort is then cooled and yeast is added, a process known as pitching. The yeast consumes the sugars in the wort, producing alcohol, CO2, and various flavors.
Conditioning: The beer is then allowed to mature, a process that can take a few weeks to several months, depending on the style of beer. This step allows the flavors to meld and any remaining yeast and sediment to settle.
Packaging: Once the beer has conditioned, it's packaged into bottles, cans, or kegs and is ready to be served.
Beer Brewing Kit Directions
In designing the brewing kit, we focused on ease of use, accessibility, and quality to ensure an enjoyable and rewarding brewing experience for novices. The first ingredients pack we're offering is a Citra Pale Ale. Pale Ale is one of the most popular styles of American beer and Citra is one of the most popular hops used in all of brewing.
Before getting started with the brewing process, you'll want to assemble the fermenter. It's quite easy and doesn't require any tools. We recommend watching the video for this part.
- Water: 1.5 gallons
- 1/5th of a campden tablet (if using city water)
- 1.25 lb dry malt extract,
- 3 ounces of milled Caramel 40L,
- 1 oz Citra hops
- Ale Yeast
- Priming sugar tablets for bottling
The yield from these ingredients will be approximately one gallon of beer (9 or 10 bottles) with an Alcohol By Volume (ABV) of about 5.5%.
- Clawhammer Supply 1 gallon starter brewing kit
- 2 Gallon Pot
- Scale for measuring hops
- Thermometer for measuring water temperature
- Bottle Caps
- Bottle Capper
Begin by heating 1.5 gallons of water to 160°F in your 2-gallon pot. If you're using city water that contains chlorine, add one-fifth of a Campden tablet to neutralize it.
When the water reaches the desired temperature, add the milled Caramel 40L encased in a muslin bag to steep for 30 minutes. This is similar to brewing a pot of tea. Secure the muslin bag to the side of the pot for easy removal later.
After 30 minutes, remove the grain bag and gradually stir in the dry malt extract until it is fully dissolved. Ensure none of the extract is sticking to the pot.
Bring the liquid to a boil while stirring occasionally to prevent foaming or boiling over. Once the boil starts, set a 60-minute timer.
This recipe involves three stages of hop additions. As soon as the boil starts, add 4 grams of Citra (60-minute addition). With 15 minutes left on the timer, add 8 grams of Citra (15-minute addition). When the timer ends, turn off the heat and add the remaining 18 grams of Citra (flameout addition).
Once the boil is over, it's time to cool the wort to yeast pitching temperature, which is around 70°F. To do this, fill your sink with 5-6 inches of ice and cold water, then place the pot in the sink to chill. Stir the water around the pot occasionally, and add more ice if needed.
When the wort cools to approximately 70°F, transfer it to the Clawhammer Supply fermenter, leaving behind any solid debris ("trub"). If the volume falls short, add water until you reach the 1.25-gallon mark.
Next, aerate the wort by shaking the fermenter. This step is crucial as yeast thrives best in aerated wort.
Pitch the yeast by adding the entire package into the fermenter.
Fill the airlock halfway with sanitizer and secure it onto the lid of the fermenter.
Store the fermenter in a dark location with a temperature range of 67-74°F, the optimal range for Ale yeast. Don't fret if the temperature is a few degrees over or below; the beer will be fine.
Allow the beer to ferment for approximately two weeks.