Category Archives: Homebrewing Help/Tips

How to Brew with Malt Extract (A Complete Walk-Through for the Beginner Brewer)

How to Brew: Extract (for Beginners)

Welcome to homebrewing, a fun and easy hobby that many start for different reasons. Some enjoy the hands-on process of creating something of their own, some are swept up by the continuing creativity of the craft breweries and want to experiment themselves, and others want to save costs rather than buying by the case from a retail beer outlet. Brewing can be as simple or complex as you want it to be, there are many different ways to brew beer. In this section, we are going to show you one way, and we are going to keep it as simple as we can be for someone just starting out with their first batch. We’re going to walk through the equipment, the ingredients and the process. This is not intended to teach you everything there is to know about brewing, more to come on that later, this is to kick things off in the right direction.

Continue for a full How To Process in Homebrewing Basics (From Ingredients to Fermentation!)…

This is the first in a series of walk-through tutorials on brewing. OBK looks to cover many homebrewing topics, such as; bottling, kegging, yeast starters, kegging, etc.



Home Brew Basics


For the full article, visit Ladybud.

If you are a fan of good beer – not the mass-produced mega-corporation style swill that is forced on us through endless streams of commercials – then you have no doubt witnessed the explosion of craft beer over the past few years. Hundreds of microbrews now pack the shelves at your local liquor stores. Finally, beer with flavor and character is available for the masses. Supporting local “Mom and Pop” businesses and breweries AND enjoying quality beer is now possible.

The popularity of these microbrews has led many beer-lovers to question how beer is made and what is involved. As a result, home brewing has quickly grown in popularity. Who doesn’t want to just walk into the kitchen and grab a fresh, delicious beer – one where you know every single ingredient used to make it? If the ingredients are chosen carefully, gone are the issues of headaches due to preservatives and chemical additives, gone are any issues of GMO’s in the beer, and gone are possible allergic reactions.

You may be thinking of trying this out for yourself, but you probably have a lot of questions. Fortunately, there are multiple sources of information and help out there, and that home brewers are generally a fun and helpful group of people.

Here’s a little Q&A to help you get started:

“Isn’t there a large amount of equipment required?”
Generally, to brew beer at home, some equipment is required. At a minimum, you need a large stock pot – roughly 5 gallons in capacity, a 5-gallon plastic bottle with an airlock (also called a fermentor), a 5-gallon plastic bucket with a spigot and bottling equipment (to get the beer from the fermentor and into bottles), and cleaning/sanitizing equipment – nothing worse than spending the time to brew your beer only to have it get funky on you (in a bad way). Of course, you can always go “bigger” and more advanced – with kegging systems, brewing stands, and other pieces of specialized equipment.

“Does it cost a lot of money to get started?”
You can find pre-packaged starter kits at the multitude of brewing stores that have sprung up in the past few years. Depending of the size of the batch of beer you want to brew and the complexity level of your brewing kit, it should cost anywhere from $80 – $200 to get started initially. Of course, you can go big and it could cost in the $1,000’s.

“Do I have to keep buying equipment?”
Not typically. If you keep your equipment clean and sanitize it properly, you can re-use almost everything (except bottle caps, cleansers, and ingredients). Keep reusing your bottles and bottling equipment.

“How long does it take?”
Brew day can take a few hours. It typically consists of bringing 2-3 gallons of water up to a boil, adding ingredients, boiling for an hour, quickly cooling the batch down, adding the yeast, and transferring it to a fermentor. After the beer starts fermenting, it can be ready for bottling in as little as two weeks or upwards of three months, depending on the style of beer you are making. After that, you can either bottle it, or keg it. If you bottle it, it can take about two weeks to carbonate. Kegging will yield drinkable beer in a matter of a few days.

These are just the very basics of getting started in home brewing. As you learn more, you can create more complex beers that can rival those of the big breweries. But even with a simple brew, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself and you know what is in your beer. Plus, giving home brewed beer is a great gift or a good excuse to have friends over and enjoy a few beers.

Have fun with it and enjoy the end results, responsibly of course!



Build Your Own Home-Brewing Mash Tun

Build Your Own Home Brewing Mash Tun


Full Article at

Using a standard beverage cooler and some easily sourced hardware, build some DIY home-brewing equipment.

If you’re getting the hang of home brewing and thinking about making the jump from using malt extract to using all grain, you’ll need a mash tun. The mash tun is a large-scale filter in which the grain used in your brew will sit while the starch converts to sugar. Following the conversion process, a properly built tun acts as a basic filter that allows the brewer to strain the sweet liquid from the grain. And the beauty of a home-brew tun is that it can be as simple or as complicated as you wish, while still brewing great beer.

You can buy a mash tun from a home-brewing supplier for hundreds of dollars, depending upon how fancy you want to get. Or, you can build a home-brew mash tun similar to the one pictured using a 10-gallon beverage cooler and some parts easily found in the plumbing section of your local hardware store.


• One 10-gallon round beverage cooler
• 12 to 18 inches of 1/2-inch stainless-steel supply hose
• One 1/2-inch threaded ball valve (brass or stainless steel)
• One 1/2-inch MIP x 1-1/2-inch pipe nipple (brass or stainless steel)
• Three 3/4-inch stainless-steel cut washers
• One 1/2-inch female NPT x 1/2-inch hose barb
• One 1/2-inch male NPT x 1/2-inch hose barb
• Two 1/2-inch stainless-steel worm clamps
• One 1/2-inch brass head plug
• Two 1/2-inch silicone O-rings
• Teflon tape


1. Remove the cooler spigot by removing the plastic nut on the inside of the cooler wall.

2. Remove the silicone gasket from the space between the inner and outer wall of the cooler.

3. Wrap a thin layer of Teflon tape around both ends of the 1-1/2-inch pipe nipple, then fit it through the now-empty hole in the cooler.

4. Cut the ends off the stainless-steel braid using a hacksaw or Dremel tool, and discard them.

5. Using a pair of needle-nose pliers, firmly grip the inner rubber tubing of the supply hose and push the braid off it. You should be left with the stainless-steel braid by itself.

6. Insert the threaded end of the 1/2-inch head plug into one end of the stainless braid, and secure with a worm clamp. The head plug will ensure that your braid does not float in your mash water and remains at the bottom of the cooler.

7. Fit the other end of the stainless braid over the barb end of the 1/2-inch female hose barb and secure with another worm clamp.

8. Fit one silicone O-ring and two of the stainless-steel washers on the inside of the cooler, and thread the hose barb onto the inside nipple. The O-ring should be closest to the wall of the cooler.

9. On the outside of the cooler, fit a silicone O-ring and your remaining stainless-steel washer, then thread on your ball valve.

10. Wrap a thin layer of Teflon tape to the threaded end of your male hose barb, then thread it into your ball valve.

11. Ensure a tight fit of all connections, but be sure to not overtighten or you risk cracking the wall of the cooler.

12. Leak-test your cooler using warm water. Most leaks (if any) can be solved by simply readjusting the tightness of the threads on each section of the valve assembly and/or applying more Teflon tape.

13. Enjoy your brew day!


For parts required to assemble your own mash tun (in Canada) visit OBK‘s selection of Stainless Steel Hardware and Igloo Coolers.


Or if you are not the DIY type or just want to save some time, purchase a fully assembled cooler Mash Tun with your choice of False Bottom or Bazooka Screen!

4 Home-Brewing Mistakes Most Beginners Make


From Popular Mechanics:


When you start home brewing, mistakes can be discouraging. But they don’t have to be. What you see as a mistake could turn out to be a learning experience on the path to great home-brewed beer. Here are four of the most common brewing mistakes and what you can learn from them.


Neglecting Sanitation

“The primary foes of new brewers are wild yeasts and bacteria,” says Chris Cohen, founder and president of the San Francisco Homebrewers Guild. You can do everything else perfectly during your brew day, but if your sanitation practices are poor, you’ll likely end up with a beer that’s been fermented by something other than brewer’s yeast. “The result is typically a bad beer that can be sour, over-attenuated, and can have phenolic flavors,” Cohen says.

The solution? Clean, clean, clean. And Cohen recommends replacing any plastic brewing gear every year. Scratched plastic creates microscopic hiding places for wild yeast and bacteria and is difficult to properly sanitize.

Overcomplicating the Process

Minneapolis home brewer Michael Porter says that one of the things that confounds new brewers is the overwhelming amount of detail. “Forums and books lead people to think that you have to go to great lengths in order to get good results, while the truth is that brewing is remarkably simple,” he says.

Porter says these advanced techniques will help you get maximum yield and consistent results from batch to batch. But they’re not absolutely necessary, especially when you’re just trying to get the hang of beer making.

“When I first started brewing, I read advice that said you must ‘build’ your water,” Porter says. That’s where you add things like salts or gypsum to turn your hard or soft water into the “proper.” “And forums are full of people that will make you think that if you skip this step, your beer will be ruined,” he says. The reality is that this is important only if you’re trying to replicate a commercial beer. For amateur beer making, this isn’t necessary, Porter says.

Not Controlling Your Fermentation Temperature

Next to fervent sanitation, Cohen says fermentation-temperature control is one of the most important variables in home brewing. Yeast likes to work within a certain temperature range (your yeast packet should spell out what that range is).

For example, typical American ale yeasts prefer a temperature of between 68 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit. “Fermenting at higher-than-recommended temperatures will typically cause the yeast to create more esters, leading to fruity aromas and flavors that may not be appropriate,” Cohen says.

Another important thing to keep in mind: The temperature should stay at an even level for the duration of the fermentation. Cohen recommends wrapping your fermenter in a blanket and placing it in a dark closet in the center of your house or apartment to avoid temperature swings. “If the temp drops during fermentation, the yeast will stop working and you’ll be left with a very sweet and unpleasant brew,” he says.

Too Many Changes at Once

Jamie Floyd, cofounder of Ninkasi Brewing Company in Eugene, Ore., advises beginning brewers to take it slow. “It is important when trying to perfect your process to change only one thing at a time,” Floyd explains.

For example, if you want a beer with a good amount of caramel flavor and a robust hop profile—but you make a beer that has no caramel flavor and isn’t hoppy enough—the best thing to do is change one aspect of the beer at a time so that you can mark the progress, Floyd says. “If you make more than one adjustment at a time you may not know what you did right or wrong the next brew.”

Remember, beer making is not an exact science. Chances are good you will make mistakes, especially at the beginning. The key is to learn from those mistakes and have fun in the process.


4 Homebrewing Tips You Won’t Find in the Books

Full Article at

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment With Flavors

“With one exception I’ve never brewed the same recipe twice,” says James Schirmer, an institutional research analyst at the University of La Verne. “I’ve brewed beers with various spices, chocolate, fruit, and anything that I think may lend itself well to a beer.”

Schirmer says one of his most successful batches was a wheat beer brewed with hibiscus flowers. “I got the idea from my mother-in-law, who mentioned one of her favorite drinks is made with hibiscus flowers,” he says. After trying it, Schirmer says he immediately knew the hibiscus flavor would meld well with a nice, light, easy-drinking summer beer. “And so I brewed an American wheat-style beer and added some dried hibiscus flowers in the boil,” he says.

That beer went on to win the 2012 Samuel Adams Longshot competition. It’s available now (under the name James Schirmer’s Beerflower Wheat) in the Samuel Adams Longshot Variety six-pack, along with the two other winners of the competition.

Keep Your Hands Away

“I showed my rookie stripes during my very first brew when I stuck my hand in the wort to retrieve the thermometer,” says home-brewer Ron Perez, a CAD manager for an engineering firm in Northern Colorado.

What he did is a huge no-no because it can contaminate the brew before even getting it to the fermentation process. “When I started home brewing, I was also pretty lax about keeping all the measuring equipment sanitized and did not use an acid sanitizer to clean the fermenter,” Perez says. “As a result, my first batch was a little fruity—a characteristic of contamination.”

Keep a Brew Log

“I am a believer in recording data throughout the brewing process,” says Scott Klym, who works as an institutional equity trader and has been home-brewing for more than two years. Why? Because if something goes wrong, a log gives him a better chance of identifying the problem and correcting it.

Klym uses a software program called Beersmith to develop recipes and record his brew day data. “I print out a brew sheet and record water volumes, temperatures at various stages, original and final gravity readings,” he explains. Then he compares those to the expected values. “If there are large deviations, I can track down what caused the problem,” Klym says. “For example, if my temp was too high during the mash, it would alter the original gravity and body of the beer.”

Update Your Equipment

“The basic kits and ingredients available today are much better than in the past, but they have limits,” says Brent Shelton, an online shopping expert and media relations specialist for For really passionate brewers, the goal is to keep improving the process and the results, so upgrading to better equipment and ingredients is a logical step toward custom brewing and possibly competing with other brewers, he says.

First, Shelton says, simply upgrading your boiling kettle will make a big difference in the mash and cook. This is especially true if you buy a glass kettle, which is superior to plastic when fermenting. He also recommends investing in a counterflow system for cooling your batch, which improves the time and accuracy of this process.

“I started out with a five-gallon pale kit from Midwest Supplies, but I’ve since graduated to more custom equipment, including a grain crusher, an extra burner (saves about an hour per batch), refracometer, better cleaning supplies, tubing and connectors, and an auto siphon — a must!” Shelton says.

So heed the advice of the experts. Whether you’ve been brewing for a while or just getting started, there’s always room for improvisation, experimentation, and improvement.

Frugal Family Times — Kegging Beer & Saving Money

Great blog post about the low cost of setting up your own draft system at home, and a picture tutorial on how to dispense it!

Check it out here, Frugal Family Times.

100 Home Brewing Tips & Hints for the Complete Beginner [Kindle Edition] FREE

Free for a Limited Time

100 Homebrewing Tips and Hints for Beginners

For anyone starting out on their home brewing adventure this book will provide you with valuable tips and hints to get you started. Ideal for the beginner home brewer.