Brewing 101

Brewing beer is a true science.
In fact, professional brewers often have college degrees in microbiology, biochemistry, or engineering. And believe it or not, to be considered a true “Brew Master”, a PhD is required! Fortunately for beer enthusiasts, the growing interest in the hobby of homebrewing has made the art and science of brewing beer accessible to anyone with a heat source, a water source, and a kettle to boil in!

Your beer recipe will depend on what flavors and style you are attempting, as well as how much alcohol you want the beer to have. Kettle to Keg has made this simple by including the precisely measured amounts of extract, grain, hops, and yeast to bring a variety of beer styles to you in an easy to brew kit! As you decide on a recipe kit, here are some terms you will want to be familiar with when selecting the right kit for your taste.


Common Extract-with-Grain Brewing Procedure:
This is the most common form of homebrewing beer. The process is simple, although it can vary from recipe to recipe.

Heat about 1.5 gallons of water to 160 degrees. Add your grains (in the grain bag) and steep for 30 minutes, maintaining a temperature of 149-156 degrees. Remove the grain bag and let it drip into the 'beer tea' – but don't squeeze it! Add the remaining volume of water (between 2 and 5 gallons, dependant on kettle size) and bring to a rolling boil. Add your malt extract and stir in completely, then add your hops. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops throughout in accordance to your recipe. Cool the wort from boiling as quickly as possible to approximately 70-80 degrees, then transfer it to the fermenter. Finally sprinkle your yeast on top, then close it up with the airlock and begin your wait!

Glossary

Adjunct
Any additional ingredient to beer besides water, malt and grain, hops, and yeast. A common adjunct is un-malted specialty grains, which may provide special flavors and colors to beer.

Airlock (Fermentation Lock / Bubbler)
Device used to seal fermentation vessel from outside air while allowing for the release of gasses produced during fermentation. Airlocks are filled with water to provide a seal.

Ale
Major type of beer with a characteristically full body, and complex, often “fruity” flavors. Ales are fermented between 50 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

All-Grain
Method of brewing in which the homebrew uses no malt extract, and prepares the entire wort from malted grain themselves. All-Grain brewing provides the homebrewer with the most flexibility and control over their beer, and is often less expensive than other brewing methods.

Alpha Acid
A type of resin in the hop plant that is absorbed by the wort during boiling, and provides the primary bitterness in beer. Alpha Acid content is reported for each hop crop as a percentage of the total weight of the hop cone. Changes from year to year, and crop to crop.

Aromatic (Finishing) Hops
Hops used in a beer recipe to give hop aromas. Obtained by adding for short periods of time to the boiling wort. Typically added last in a hop schedule.

Attenuation
A measure of the amount of sugar in the wort that has been converted to ethanol and CO2. Measured by the drop in specific gravity using a hydrometer. The rate and amount of attenuation is characteristic of each yeast strain.

Barley
Grain used as the primary source of fermentable sugars and other flavor in brewing beer. Typically malted to achieve various color, flavor, and chemical characteristics.

Bittering (Boiling) Hops
Hops used to provide bitterness. Obtained by adding for long periods of time to the boiling wort. Typically added first in a hop schedule.

Blow-off Tube
Tubing device used in place of an airlock (fermentation lock / bubbler). Allows for the escape of gas and krausen.

Carboy
Glass or plastic fermentation vessel. Commonly available in 3, 5, 6, and 6.5 gallon sizes.

Cold Break
When proteins fall out of suspension in the wort during chilling and fermentation. Helps to eliminate haze and cloudiness in beer. Rapid cooling via a wort chiller causes a more effective cold break.

Dry Hopping
Hops used after the wort boil to provide hop aromas and flavor. Often done by adding hops during Secondary Fermentation.

Extract
Concentrated malt sugars and proteins derived from mashing. Concentrated by removing most/all water from mash. Can be found in dry (DME) and liquid (LME) forms. The manufacturer does the hard work extracting the fermentables, making it easier for you to focus on adding color and flavor to your brew.

Flocculation
The amount of protein and yeast cells that fall out of suspension in the beer. The rate and amount is characteristic of each yeast strain.

Grain
The primary ingredient in most beers is malted barley (malt). The flavor, color, and body of your beer is determined primarily by the roast of the barley (kind of like the roast of a coffee bean). The grain is steeped in water to extract the sugars from the grain, resulting in hot liquid called wort.

Gravity
This is a scientific reading indicating how much fermentable sugar is present in your beer. You read the gravity at several points throughout the brewing process using a hydrometer (included in our Equipment Kits). Original Gravity (OG) represents the amount of sugar in your beer immediately before fermentation. Final Gravity (FG) is taken when fermentation is complete and represents the amount of unfermentable sugars remaining. Roughly, the difference between OG and FG indicates how much alcohol you have produced.

Hops
Hops are a plant, and are available in several processed forms including pellets, plugs, and whole leaf. Hops are boiled in the wort to extract hop oils, which provide bitterness and various aromatics to beer. There are hundreds of hop varieties, and each variety is rated using an alpha acid rating. You can easily adjust the bitterness and aroma of your brew depending on when you add the hops, and how long you boil them for.

Hot Break
When proteins fall out of suspension in the wort during the boil. Helps eliminate haze and cloudiness in beer.

Hydrometer
Device used to measure the amount of sugars that can be converted to alcohol.

Krausen
Foam on the top of a fermenting beer during the initial stages of fermentation.

Lager
Major type of beer with a characteristic light body and clean and crisp flavor. Fermented between 35 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mash / Mashing
Process by which proteins and sugars are extracted from malted barley. Involves a series of steps concerning temperature, pH, and enzymes.

Off Flavors
Term for any number of unwanted flavors or aromas in beer. Usually a sign of a brewing error.

Pitching
Adding yeast to cooled wort.

Primary (Fermentation / Fermenter)
The vessel used initially for the fermentation process. Typically of larger size than a secondary fermenter. Both 6 and 6.5 gallon are common sizes.

Priming (Sugar)
Priming sugar (aka Dextrose or corn sugar) is a type of fermentable sugar. Added immediately before bottling, it will allow you to carbonate your beer during the conditioning stage. 5 oz. is used for a 5 gallon batch of beer.

Racking
Process by which beer is transferred from one vessel to another, be it from Primary to Secondary, or just before bottling.

Secondary (Fermentation / Fermenter)
The vessel used second in the fermentation process. Typically of smaller size than primary, with the goal of minimizing the amount of air space between the beer and the top of the vessel. 5 gallons is the most common size.

Single Stage Fermentation
Fermentation in which beer is fully fermented in one vessel, followed by bottling and/or kegging.

Sparge
Controlled filtration of water through mashed grains to collect unfermented sugars and proteins.

Trub
Layer of proteins and yeast cells that form at the bottom of fermenting wort. Can cause off-flavors if beer is not removed within 3 weeks.

Two-Stage Fermentation
Fermentation that requires a second vessel for a second stage of fermentation. Often used for dry-hopping or other additions.

Yeast
Yeast is a living organism that fuels the fermentation of your beer. The yeast eats the sugars to produce alcohol, producing a biproduct of carbon dioxide (CO2). When bottled, the CO2 will provide carbonation in your beer. The rule of thumb with successful brewing is to keep your yeast happy. Yeast requires a temperate and sanitary environment in order to produce a good fermentation.

Wort
Unfermented beer consisting of malt, hops, and adjuncts before the addition of yeast.