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BREWING TECHNIQUES: | All Grain | Partial Mash | Extract | Kits |
ALL GRAIN BREWING: | Ingredients | Recipe | Mashing | Sparging | Boiling | Cooling | Fermentation | Finishing |

Ingredients for All Grain Brewing

Make sure all your ingredients are fresh. This may seem obvious, but if you use old malt, tired hops that have been badly stored, or dodgy yeast, you will never make a decent brew.

Homebrewing ingredients for all-grain brewing

Malt

Pale Malt: This makes up the bulk of the 'grist' (dry grains which are mixed together before mashing). Pale malt provides the starch which will turn first into sugar in the mash tun and then into alcohol during fermentation. Generally speaking you will use about 3 - 4 kg per 5 gallons of beer. I buy mine ready-crushed; it only costs a few pence more and doing it yourself requires an expensive malt-mill, as the degree of crushing is critical to the subsequent brewing process.

Crystal Malt: Provides flavour and sweetness; this will make up around 10% of the grist in a typical recipe. Again, buy it ready crushed to save yourself the trouble.

Other Malts & 'grits': Provide a variety of flavours and desirable properties (e.g. head retention). Typical ones are:

  • Wheat Malt (provides a pleasant and unusual flavour
  • Wheat Flour (good for head retention in small amounts)
  • Torrified Wheat (aids head retention)
  • Flaked maize (has a characteristic flavour - use it for a bit of variety)
  • Flaked rice (gives cheap strength, but little flavour - more at home in American lagers)
  • Dark Roasted Malts (moving the brew in the direction of dark stouts!)

Hops

These provide bitterness to balance the sweetness of the malt and also act as a preservative. There are many varieties and availability varies from year to year, as new varieties are developed and old ones become uneconomical due to disease problems (the hop industry being driven by commercial brewers, of course).

Hops for homebrewing

Some good ones for real ales are:

Goldings: Excellent flavour, but lower bittering power than some of the modern varieties.

Fuggles: Flavour to rival the golding, but again low in bittering power.

Challenger: A relatively modern hop, this has good flavour and quite a high bitterness level

Here's a good link to keep you up to date with what's what in the world of hops: Charles Faram.

Hop bitterness varies between varieties, and also varies seasonally, depending on growing conditions, so to get a consistent flavour you must allow for this when brewing. Hops from good home brew suppliers will have the % Alpha Acid (a measure of the bittering power of the hops) stated on the pack; I would not recommend using hops which don't!

I'm planning a whole page on bitterness calculations, but meanwhile, here's a simple formula that I use to work out the amount of hops needed:-

Hops (g) = (Bittering Units Required x 25) / (% Alpha Acid x 2)

I work on between 20 and 25 bittering units for my stock bitter.

Yeast

This little beast is what turns our sugar into alcohol. Yeast exists in many strains, only some of which are suitable for brewing.

Brewing yeast

It surprises many people to learn that the strain of yeast used is one of the key factors which determines the flavour of the finished beer. The reason is that the by-products of the yeast as it converts sugar to alcohol provide the majority of the flavour in the beer! This is why it is so important to pamper the yeast while it is working by keeping the brew at the correct temperature; too hot, and too many flavour compounds are produced; too cold and the beer can taste bland.

There are dozens of dried types available (see some of the online shops on the links page). I always used Gervin English Ale Yeast in the past, but more recently I've started to use liquid yeast cultures, such as Wyeast and Whitelabs products. Although they are much more expensive (around 5) and involve more work, they can be reused and the quality of beer that can be produced makes them well worth it!

 
BREWING TECHNIQUES: | All Grain | Partial Mash | Extract | Kits |
ALL GRAIN BREWING: | Ingredients | Recipe | Mashing | Sparging | Boiling | Cooling | Fermentation | Finishing |
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