Enjoy the beer that you deserve.
The homebrewer selects the ingredient quantity and type needed to attain the desired characteristics of the finished beer. The brewer must determine the quantity and type of fermentables, hops, yeast, flavorings, and other additives that are needed. Choices include the freshness, condition, flavor and aroma profiles, as well as the processed form of ingredients to be used. Beyond the ingredients selected, decisions must be made regarding the addition times of the various ingredients, especially the hops, as these affect the final beer as well.
Malts, Adjuncts, and Other Fermentables
The desired color, malt character, and strength of the finished beer drive the choice of fermentables. The grains that all-grain brewers use are malted grain kernels in their natural state, but they're available pre-processed into liquid and dry malt extract for ease of use in brewing. In addition, some styles or brewer's whim call for adjunct sugars such as molasses or candi sugar for flavor and color.
Hops should be selected on the basis of their flavor and aroma profile as well as their alpha acid content. Freshness and storage are key factors in using hops, as time, temperature, and oxygen degrade the oils desired for bitterness and aroma. Hops are available for the homebrewer in several forms:
- Whole hops
- Hop oil extract
A wide range of yeast strains is available, permitting a homebrewer to make any of the world's beers in the kitchen. The yeast selected should be appropriate for the style of beer being made, as the yeast strain can have a profound effect on the finished beer. Yeast products are available for the homebrewer in several forms:
- Dry yeast
- Liquid yeast
- Culture slants
Brewing water should be clean and suitable for drinking. Both tap and spring water are used for homebrewing. Good knowledge of the mineral content and hardness of the water is essential when attempting more advanced brewing or to mimic certain beer styles. You should expect losses when predicting water amounts for the recipe's target yield. There are a lot of factors that can make what started out as a five-gallon recipe end up being a lot less.
- Mashing losses
- Boiling losses
- Fermentation losses
So, account for all of them up front and you'll be a lot happier at bottling time.
The opportunity to use additional flavorings and go beyond, malt, hops, yeast and water is what appeals to many homebrewers. When making only five gallons at a time, you can afford to be experimental. Use additional flavorings to really expand your beer's flavor experience. Special seasonal beers can especially benefit from these additions, pumpkin ale is an example. Of course, by adding these extras to the beer, you have to consider how the base beer will taste when blended with the newer flavors. Experiment and enjoy! The range of items you can consider adding to your beer include: