In craft beer, the quality of ingredients is paramount. The brewer’s goal is to maximize the flavor of each ingredient. In mass-produced beers, malted barley is minimized and ‘augmented’ with cheap substitutes like rice, GMO corn, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), or artificial additives. Hops are often reduced to a minimum, and coloring agents such as caramel coloring and preservatives are added.
Brewing is a complex and ancient art with many levels of complexity and nuances. But the essential steps are simple: heat water and grain (or extract from grain), boil the mixture with hops, cool the mixture and ferment using yeast. This process has roots going back 12,000 years. The brewer manipulates these four basic ingredients to create thousands of styles from around the world.
Before starting to brew you will need to thoroughly clean and sanitize all of your equipment. A brewing cleaner is usually recommended to get the job done. Once the equipment is cleaned, you will need to dechlorinate and heat about 3 gallons of water to just below boiling. Next, add your malt extract and stir until it dissolves. Then, pour the wort into an ice bath to cool it down and bring down the temperature of the wort to about 80 degrees.
The ice bath can be anything from your sink to a bathtub, just make sure it is big enough to hold your batch of wort. Once your wort is cool, you will need a strainer to remove any solids and a bottling bucket to bottle your finished beer. You will also need bottles with pry off caps (not twist off), a capper and a brush to clean the bottles before capping them.