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F.A.Q. about Home Beer Making

Frequently Asked Questions
about Brewing!




What is beer?

Beer is a fermented beverage which has been an important part of the daily diet since the time of the earliest civilizations. Real beer is a completely natural product which is made form malt, hops, yeast and water.

MALT - contributes taste, color, body, alcohol and sweetness to the beer. It is prepared from barley which has been malted. Malt is available in three forms: malt extract, dried malt extract (D.M.E.) and malted grains.

HOPS - are the flowering female tops of the hop plant. They add the bitterness to beer to balance with the natural sweetness of the malt. Hops are also are used to impart flavor and aroma to beer. The primary function of hops, however, is to function as a bacteria inhibitor and a preservative which allows the beer to age and mature.

YEAST - converts the fermentables in the malt to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Beer yeast is specially formulated to give beer its varying styles and to settle out well - thus achieving brilliant clarity.

WATER - constitutes the largest percentage of the ingredients. As a rule of thumb: water that tastes good, should make good tasting beer.

All of these completely natural ingredients magically combine to make the beverage that we all enjoy and know as BEER.

Is it legal to make beer?

Yes! According to federal laws, any adult, 18 years or older, may brew up to 100 gallons (40 cases) of beer annually and any household may brew up to 200 gallons (80 cases) annually. However, federal, state & local laws concerning consumption & possession of alcohol would still apply to minors. The federal home brewing law (in whole or part) has been adopted by 49 of the 50 states.

Is beer difficult to make?

NO! If you can boil water and follow a few simple directions, you will be able to make any recipe in this catalog without any problems.

What styles of beer can I make?

Any style of beer in the world! Being your own brewmaster, you will control the selection of ingredients which, in turn, controls every characteristic that your beer exhibits (i.e. color, bitterness, alcohol, taste, carbonation, etc.).

Is American beer easier to make?

NO! Actually, the American beer style is the hardest beer in the world to "duplicate" because it is so light in malt and hop content. To achieve these characteristics, the breweries use corn or rice to boost alcohol content. The use of rice & corn require special brewing skills acquired only by a few dedicated homebrewers. Breweries also use chemical additives (which have their own impact on taste and enjoyment) that most of us could not pronounce and would not use if given a choice.

How does homemade beer compare to commercial beer?

You can make beer at home of import quality for less than what you would pay for a premium brand of domestic beer. In brewing at home, there is absolutely no beer in the world that you can't duplicate or come so close that you will be the envy of any beer lover. Besides the just mentioned advantage, an important factor has to be the natural aspect. Home brewers are most likely to be purity advocates, using nothing but malt, yeast, hops & water to make their beer. The same can't be said about the domestic "mega-brewers"; it is documented in theCongressional Record that up to 59 different additives (chemicals, if you will) are utilized to make these beers. Micro-brewers and brew-pub beer best exemplify the styles that dominate the homebrewing scene, and the reason for this is quality. The majority of our customers place their emphasis on brewing quality. The economics of home brewing can be emphasized if quality is to be sacrificed.

How much time is involve in making beer?

1) It will take 60 to 90 minutes to prepare the ingredients, in the kitchen, for fermentation. 2) After 10-12 days, bottling will take another 60-90 minutes. 3) Carbonation will be achieved in another 7-10 days. 4) The beer can be consumed in as little time as 3 weeks from the day you get your system. But again, it will get better, still, with age.

What will I have to do in the kitchen?

You will need to dissolve the malt in cold water in a stock-pot. Once it is dissolved, you will achieve and maintain a rolling boil for a minimum of 15 minutes. The rolling boil will basically stir the mixture for you. If ingredients need to be added, a kitchen timer can be utilized to prompt you at the proper time.

Can I use any type of bottles?

Any type of bottle can be used that requires a cap that can only be removed with a bottle opener (NO TWIST-OFFS). These would include returnable bottles from the commercial brewers and import bottles. The ceramic top import bottles, as well as, plastic soft drink bottles are also acceptable. Bottles made of brown glass are preferable over green or clear glass.

Can homemade beer harm someone?

No, as long as the bottled beer develops carbonation! It is a scientific fact that "nothing toxic to mankind can live in an active beer/yeast environment; therefore, never drink a beer that did not carbonate.

How soon can the beer be consumed?

Realize that you'll be anxious to determine how you've done, we recommend sampling the beer after it has been in the bottles for about two (2) weeks. A well hopped beer will tend to have a little harshness on the back of your palate during this time frame. That harshness will go away with additional aging. In fact, every beer you make, will taste better the older that it gets. For the best results, age your beer around 4-6 weeks, IF YOU CAN. The last beer you open will probably taste the best because of the amount of age it has achieved.

How long will the beer last?

Your beer will remain drinkable for 6 months easily and probably for 1-2 years. The hops and the alcohol perform as natural preservatives which allow some beers to remain drinkable for 5, 10 and even 20 years.

Is temperature a potential concern?

To a certain degree. Ales are normally fermented at room temperature (60-75 degrees) while Lagers are best fermented at temperatures in the 50-60 degree range. (Lagers can be made at temperatures up into the 70's but the best results will be achieved by cooler fermentations). Once bottled, both ales and lagers should be stored at room temperature to develop carbonation. Beer stored at temperatures above 80 degrees may not last as long as those stored at cooler temperatures. Refrigeration is not necessary until you are ready to consume the beer.

Is there anything I can do to ensure my success?

YES! Besides using fresh ingredients, there are three things that you can do: 1) sanitize everything that comes in contact with your beer after the boiling is completed and 2) protect the surface of the beer from exposure to airborne bacteria and wild yeast by keeping a lid or cloth over the beer at all possible times and 3) digest as much information on brewing as possible, starting with The New Complete Joy of Brewing by Charlie Papazian.

What makes your systems better than your competitors?

I have been brewing since the mid 70's. Reflecting on my experiences, I have designed my brewing systems & developed brewing techniques around the ease of the task and the elimination of problems in making quality beer. Each system is up-gradable to the next level without any of the equipment becoming obsolete. Even our basic system, the Single-Stage, includes everything it takes to make beer EXCEPT the ingredients, the bottles and a stock-pot.

What system should I buy?

If you have never tasted homemade beer and you are not sure if the time and labor requirements are going to fit into your life style, then I would suggest starting out with our Single-Stage System. This system can be easily and inexpensively up-graded to the next level.

If on the other hand, you have no doubts about your potential enjoyment of this hobby, then I would recommend one of the better systems. I am a strong advocate of the blow-off method employed by the Blow-Off System and the Deluxe Blow-Off Systems because of the reduction of risk from bacteria when utilizing glass (i.e. glass carboys for fermentation).

Which recipe should I start with?

On recipes, I would recommend one of the Traditional recipe packages to any new brewer because these packages are like a training session with step-by-step instructions that anyone with an elementary education can follow. Furthermore, these recipes give you complete control of every characteristic of the beer style. And as your knowledge grows you will become your own brewmaster in the true sense of the word. Since all the Traditional recipe packages follow the same step-by-step guidelines, none of the recipes are generally more difficult or easier than another.

As far as a specific recipe, I would recommend making the style of beer that you are most inclined to enjoy. This hobby is so simple that you don't have to achieve a certain level of brewing knowledge before you can make the beer you desire.

What are some of the most common mistakes or problems?

Not understanding and/or adhering to sound sanitizing practices or using a GOOD fundamental sanitizer.

Being too eager and proceeding before resolving any questions.

Use of sugar to boost alcohol.

The system was purchased from another company that didn't promote this hobby from the stand-point of brewing quality beer.

How can I tell if I did everything right?

Review the directions, that are provided with each recipe package. Resolve any questions about the directions before you start. By performing the task as directed and utilizing good sanitizing techniques, you will have done it right!

At all stages in the brewing process, you should be sensing, by smell, the pleasant aroma of a quality beer. Upon opening the beer, you should hear the release of gas escaping as the cap is removed. The beer should pour gently into a glass, creating a frothy but subdued head of foam. Finally the taste; it could have a pronounced bite in the initial weeks following bottling. However, with a little age this bitterness will mellow and marry with the malt to bring joy and pride.

What if I make lousy beer?

First off, if you develop an understanding of the need to sanitize your equipment properly, you shouldn't make bad beer. If you consider the beer bad, seek another brewer's opinion or buy a commercial beer in the style that you were making for a first-hand comparison. It could be that you don't like that style of beer OR that the beer is too bitter because of its lack of maturity.

But by all means, don't pour the beer down the drain without:
allowing it age a little longer (2-6 weeks of additional age could completely change the beer), or
if the beer is funky tasting, consider blending it with a domestic beer or other homebrew to salvage the batch.

What if I don't understand what I need to do?

We will be more than happy to discuss your individual questions so that you have the confidence of knowing that you are developing and understanding this magnificent hobby.

What is the most important advice that you can give me aboutmaking good beer?

Buy ingredients from a reputable supplier that maintains fresh stock,
read The New Complete Joy of Brewing by Charlie Papazian
sanitize, SANITIZE.

Beyond that, read as much as you can find and ask questions.  But always be on guard against bad (even though well intended) advice.

If the information doesn't make your beer better,  save you time or save you money maybe you shouldn't apply it to your beer making process 

If you have other questions, I would be more than happy to discuss them over our advice line.


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