How Long Does It Take to Make Beer at Home? (Less Than You Might Think!)
If you’re a beer aficionado, you’ve probably wondered how long it takes to make beer at home. Not that much actually. To make a small batch, you’ll need a brewing kit consisting of some essential items for beer making—and a little patience.
You may have heard that it takes a lot of time to make beer, which can put off those who have a tight schedule. However, the reality is that you can set up everything you need in one day, and the concoction will do the rest on its own.
Let’s go over each step, and you can add up the time.
Step 1: Preparing the Equipment
Time: 45 minutes
You’ll need proper brewing equipment before you start making your own beer. This includes things like fermentation vessel, brew pot, and sanitizing equipment. If you want to make a high-quality product quickly, you’ll need some additional items such as a hydrometer and a wort chiller.
You’d use the hydrometer to track the fermentation process and make sure that you don’t stop it prematurely. If you do, your beer will manifest yeast activity. The wort chiller should reduce the time needed to cool down the wort after boiling it. If you leave it to cool off by itself, it will take around 5 hours to reach a reasonable temperature. A wort chiller can cut that down to less than a half-hour.
When you prepare the equipment, use sanitizing gear to clean it first. It is extremely important to sanitize everything thoroughly. Non-sanitized equipment can cause infections and your beer may have a bad aroma. It should take you around 45 minutes to set up your gear and sanitize everything.
Step 2: Boiling
Time: 1 to 4 hours (depending on the recipe)
Fill up your kettle with water and heat it. The amount of time needed for the pre-boiling phase depends on your recipe. For example, steeping grains before boiling adds additional flavor and color but it may take up 45 minutes. If you’re making an all-grain batch, the mashing process may require one and a half hour.
The boiling itself usually takes an hour. However, some special types of beer like Pilsner malt will need 90 minutes of boiling. Most recipes will specify the time needed for pre-boiling and boiling.
Step 3: Cooling Off the Wort
Time: 25 minutes with a wort chiller (or up to 5 hours without)
When you’re done boiling all the ingredients, you’ll have to cool off the resulting wort as quickly as possible. Right after boiling the wort should be around 212° F (the boiling temperature of water), which you’ll have to reduce to at least 75° before pitching the yeast.
Without a wort chiller, you’ll have a harder time cooling it off quickly. You can fill your kitchen sink or bathtub with ice and stick the pot in there. To speed it up further, you can add cold water and more ice every now and then. You can also seal the pot and take it outside if it’s snowing or freezing cold and wait for it to cool down.
It is important not to expose the wort to outside air or it might catch bacteria and other harmful particles.
Step 4: Filling and Pitching Yeast
Time: 20 minutes
This is the only step where you should aerate the wort since you’ll need oxygen for the yeast to grow and reproduce. Exposing the brew to air at any other time may cause it to oxidize, which would destroy the beer.
Once the brew gets cool enough, pour it in a carboy or a fermenter by way of a funnel. To add air to the wort, you should shake or swish the carboy while pouring, or stir the brew in the fermenter. There’s also an aerator device that you can get to quickly aerate the pots.
After you add air to the liquid in the carboy or fermenter, you should proceed to add the yeast. Depending on the type of beer that you’re brewing, you can either get a bottom-fermenting or a top-fermenting yeast. Get a yeast package from a specialized shop and follow the instructions.
Once you add everything, set up an airlock. Cover the lid and place the fermenter in a cool and dark place. Avoid places with inconsistent temperatures, especially if it gets too cold or hot. Also, never expose it to sunlight.
Step 5: Fermentation
Time: up to 2 weeks
Fermentation is the most important part of beer brewing, so you should follow the instructions of your recipe closely. On the tenth day, you should start inspecting the hydrometer’s gravity reading to make sure you did everything right.
Check it every day until there isn’t any change of activity on your hydrometer. A fixed reading over a number of days means that the fermentation is over and you can bottle the beer.
Step 6: Bottling
Time: around 4 weeks to carbonate
If you want to pour the beer directly into bottles, you’ll first need to prepare priming sugar and add it to the priming bucket. This will allow the beer to carbonate in the bottles. Each beer recipe has its own method of priming sugar so you should follow it closely.
After adding the sugar, attach the carboy or fermenter to the priming bucket using a racking cane and tubes. Then, mix the beer and the sugar. When you’re done priming, you should attach the bottle filler to the tube and fill the bottles. Leave the bottles in a cool, dark place for five weeks to carbonate.
Note that if you’re going to keg your beer using a kegerator, you don’t have to prime the sugar. The kegerator takes care of carbonating.
So, How Long Does It Take?
As you can see, it doesn’t take all that long to make beer. Sanitizing, boiling, yeast pitching and filling shouldn’t take up more than 6 to 7 hours of your time.
After that, you’ll have to wait for around a month and a half for your beer to ferment and carbonate before it’s ready to serve.
But you know what they say—the more you wait, the more you appreciate.
© 2019 Ben Martin