Home > Homebrew > All Grain Homebrewing 101: Part 2 Five Step Brewing Prep

All Grain Homebrewing 101: Part 2 Five Step Brewing Prep

Have your ingredients and your process "at the ready" on brew day.

Back for part 2?  Excellent!  I know you’re anxious to get to brew day (sorry, next blog I promise), but as a novice brewer looking to introduce other novices to the all grain method, we need to first discuss a few less exciting, but very important pre-brew tasks that can really improve your success.

Back in the beginning, when my husband first learned to homebrew, I witnessed some major “oh shit” moments.  Since then, he’s managed to get his process down to a science.  This takes time, but the point is, preparation, organization, and cleanliness are next to godliness when brewing beer. Don’t get me wrong, even the most seasoned brewers have “oh shit” moments – profanities streaming from the garage on brew days still send the dogs and I running for cover – but as you become more experienced, you’ll develop the uncanny ability to foresee and respond quickly to the unexpected.

So as a side spectator in the sport of brewing, here are what I’ve determined to be 5 key prep steps for brew day success:

Step 1. Know Your Recipe

This is not a last minute decision.  It’s not like soup where you just throw things together at the last minute using leftovers from the fridge.  Pick a recipe in advance, understand the recipe, make sure you have access to the ingredients for that recipe, and make sure you understand the process.   Best to start with a simple recipe with simple ingredients.

Step 2. Calculate Your Water Levels

There’s an online beer calculator for everything – calculate gravity, carbonation, IBUs, ABVs, water, yeast statistics.  Tools like Brew365, Beer Tools, Brew Calcs, and  Mr. Malty will help you determine exactly the characteristics you want to achieve in your beer.  However, the most important measurements that beginners must deal with is strike and sparge water levels.  Before your brew day, find a good online beer recipe calculator (give it a Google) and determine these measurements ahead of time.

A healthy yeast starter will boost your beer's fermentation.


3. Prepare the Yeast Starter

18-24 hours before you brew, prepare a yeast starter.  The yeast starter is a mini-brew concoction (wort) made of water, malt and yeast.  The idea is to activate the yeast by creating the perfect yeast environment.  A magnetic stir plate adds oxygen, and you want to keep it at an even temperature around 68°F.  The yeast feed on the mixture and, just like a real beer, they begin converting the sugars to alcohol. When added to the final brew, these active and healthy yeast will jump start fermentation and start the beer off on the right foot.

4.  Layout Your Ingredients

Have your recipe and ingredients laid out, weighed and measured.  Having your ingredients “at the ready” will streamline your process and help eliminate “oh shit” moments.

5.  Clean and Sanitize Your Equipment

Bacteria ruins beer, so this step alone can make or break an entire day’s worth of brewing.  You don’t want funky beer, so take the time to clean AND sanitize your equipment before you brew and throughout your brewing process.

Like I said, not as much fun, but equally important steps in the brewing process.  Groan if you must, but after all the bragging about making your own beer, it would suck if you don’t have something remotely drinkable to share with your friends.

Next blog…the fun stuff – Brew day!

Cheer beers!


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