Brewing beer is similar to cooking in that there is a basic recipe, but it can be tweaked to yield different results. Beginning brewers should start with a ready-to-use form of malted barley called malt extract rather than attempting to malt their own grain, which is a complex and touchy process that may result in an undesirable outcome. Using a malt extract will ensure the fermented sugar is prepared correctly and will act as it should throughout the entire beer making process.
During the fermentation stage, yeast converts the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. It also provides the distinctive flavors of the beer. It is important to keep the wort (beer mixture) out of air as much as possible to prevent spoilage.
Many breweries use locally sourced ingredients to add flavor and support local farmers. This creates a connection with the community and helps reduce the environmental impact of shipping ingredients long distances. Using local ingredients can also promote transparency in the brewing process, as brewers are more likely to be open about their ingredient sources.
To start brewing your own beer, you will need a stock pot, a fermenter, and a sanitizer solution. It is recommended to have a sanitizer bottle that is reusable and contains a non-rinse acid sanitizer such as StarSan. A bottling bucket will also be needed to transfer the beer from the primary fermenter into bottles. It is a good idea to start collecting bottles well in advance of starting to brew your first batch, as it takes about 50 12-ounce beer bottles for a five-gallon batch.