Smile Politely

The Beginner Brew

Brewing good beer is easy. Brewing great beer is hard. This step-by-step guide will teach you to brew a simple beer in a simple manner. The next Hop Politely will involve a more complex recipe — complete with video!

In the past I have recommended getting a brewing kit for your first attempt. I am standing by this, although to most home brewers doing so is extremely un-cool. The kit will provide you with beer specific instructions, depending on which type you choose. The following recipe will focus on a very simple IPA process.

Refer to the last Hop Politely for all ingredients and supplies.


6 lbs. Light malt extract (~ 2 cans)
1.5 lb. Crystal malt
2 oz. Northern Brewer hops (bittering)
1 oz. Cascade hops (finishing)
1 package of ale yeast


1) SANITATION. Everything that might come in contact with your beer must be sanitized. This may seem like something you can skip over, but it is the most important part of brewing. Use a no rinse sanitizer like Iodopher if you have it, otherwise use 1 oz of household bleach per five gallons of water.

2) Add two gallons of water to your stainless steel pot. Heat to 160 deg. F.

3) Run warm water over the two cans of light malt extract to make it easier for pouring later.

4) Steep the Grains. Most kits provide a grain bag to place your malted grains in. If you do not have one of these, make sure you have a strainer for sparging the wort later. Place the bag of grains in the pot and let them steep for 20 minutes. Remove the grains, making sure to let all of the water drip from the bag back into the pot.

5) Bring the wort to a boil. Pour your warmed cans of LME into the wort, making sure to get all of the extract. Stir with your spoon.

6) Once the wort has a strong rolling boil, add the 2 oz. of Northern Brewer Hops. Start a timer at the exact moment you add the hops. Keep the rolling boil steady for the next fifty minutes.

7) Now add the 1 oz. of Cascade Hops. Let the boil continue for five minutes. Shut off the stove and cover the wort.

8) Pour 3 gallons of water into your sanitized fermentation bucket. Then pour the wort, making sure to strain the grains if you did not use a bag earlier.

9) Allow the mixture to cool to 75 deg. F before adding the yeast. Stir the yeast into the beer for a couple of minutes before sealing the fermentation bucket with a lid and air lock. Take the original gravity with your hydrometer.

You’re done! Now the wait begins! Most fermentation takes six to twelve days. You will notice bubbles coming from your air lock. If these bubbles stop, it does not mean your beer has stopped fermenting. For the sake of keeping things simple on your first brew, stop the fermentation at seven days and begin the bottling process:

50 dark beer bottles
50 bottle caps
Bottling bucket (has a spigot at the bottom)
Bottle capper
2 oz. Priming sugar


1) Siphon your beer from the primary fermentation bucket to your bottling bucket. Make sure you don’t get any of the drudge at the bottom.

2) Boil 2 oz of priming sugar in two cups of water. Cool.

3) Pour the priming sugar water into the bottling bucket and stir.

4) Boil all of your bottle caps.

5) Fill your bottles with beer, leaving about an inch and a half of the neck empty.

6) Cap the bottles

Wait again! The beer must age in the bottles for two to three weeks before you can drink it. This allows carbonation to take place. The more aging, the better the beer! Have patience.

Keep your beer in a dark place. Solar rays can mess with the flavor and coloring.

If this recipe was too simple for your level, stay tuned for an advanced session next time.

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