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How Beer Is Brewed

July 19, 1995|MARESA ARCHER

To brew beer at home, you need the ingredients of your choice, a big pot to put them in, a flame to cook it all up, and in the end, empty bottles to fill.

Most home brewers start off with a malt extract, either in syrup or dry form; this is added to 2 1/2 gallons of water and boiled for a minimum of half an hour in a restaurant-size pot. A stainless steel or enamel pot is recommended because it doesn't affect the flavor of the beer.

At a desired point during the boiling process, the hops are added. Adding them at different times during the boiling process can change the flavor of the beer, as does the variety of hops used.

Now called wort, the brew is allowed to cool to about body temperature. Another 2 1/2 gallons of water are added, as is yeast. The beer is then put into an airtight container called a fermenter and allowed to sit undisturbed for at least two weeks. After that time, the beer is bottled and left alone for another two weeks to a month to "condition."

Recycled soda kegs can be used instead of bottles. New technology has made them obsolete for most fast-food restaurants so used kegs are readily available.

Some home brewers start off with grain and make their own extract, which adds about another three hours to the process. Making beer from grain is a bit more costly for start-up equipment, but the finished product is half the price of beer from extract, which is itself cheaper than commercially produced beer.

Cost of making home brew depends on the type being made, but the average home-brewed ale from extract costs between $15 and $35 for a 48-bottle case.

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