They say a picture is worth a thousand words....
I have put together this photo essay to share my modified execution of the Mr Beer brewing process. I am not by any means an experienced brewer, and I hope that by showing you how basic my brewing is, you'll see that anyone can do it with a minimum of hassle and expense.
Mixing the Batch
The picture on the right shows me in our little kitchen, mixing up a batch of One-Step sanitizer in the keg. I place my mixing spoon in to sanitize it as well. I mix one gallon of warm water with one half package (1 Tablespoon) of One-Step per the directions.
In go the ingredients according to the recipe. Here I am assembling a batch of "Pineapple Perfection" to satisfy my curiosity. Remember that if you are using booster, to mix it in slowly before you heat the water to avoid a big clump! I am using a 3 quart pot that I sanitized with the sanitizer I ran through the keg in the preceding step.
Here I have set out the remaining ingredients for this batch; a can of sliced pineapple, a can of West Coast Pale Ale, and one cup of brown sugar. I use a Pyrex measuring cup that I sanitized to pour the water into the pot as well as to hold my sanitized stirring spoon.
MMMMMMMMMMM! Doesn't THAT look yummy? I am allowing the pineapple to steep in the hot wort for five minutes, according to the recipe. I then will pour the whole works into the keg .... over the sink of course
Don't forget to add the yeast, let it sit for five minutes, and then stir it up real good with a sanitized spoon.
And VOILA, here's the batch sitting on top of my fridge with a containment vessel (baking pan) underneath, just in case the ferment gets a little too rambunctious. I have only experienced overflow once, with a batch of Love Potion Lager. Those fruit beers really get a rolling ferment going!
Bottling the Brew
I reuse PET soda bottles that I get from my friend Shaun. I strip off the labels and rinse them out with water to remove the residual soda in them. Since these bottles are clear in color, I make sure to keep them in a cardboard box after bottling to prevent damage to the beer from direct light. I have reused some bottles and their caps four times already with no problems. Here I start the bottling process on a batch of Love Potion Lager.
I use 6 Tablespoons of corn sugar to prime the batch. I mix it in about 1/2 cup of water in a pan than I rinsed with a little sanitizer from the keg. I have used regular white sugar as well as turbinado (unrefined) sugar for priming and can detect no difference in the taste of the final product. I will likely return to using the turbinado sugar we keep in the house once my supply of corn sugar is gone.
Here's a shot of the batch priming and bottling setup I learned from a post on the Mr Beer Brewing Club group on Yahoo. I bought a 2 gallon water bottle at Safeway for about 8 dollars and use it as a batch priming vessel after running some sanitizer through it and the hose. The hose was purchased at the local hardware store. It is three feet long with an inner diameter of 1/2 inch.
Here's a close-up of the cork and rubber band I use to hold the spigot open on the keg so I don't have to stand there and hold it while it drains into the priming vessel. Hi-Tech huh? You can also see the sticky note I affix to each batch with the name of the beer, the batch number, the start date, the bottle date, and the lager date. This sticky note travels with the batch from keg to box of bottles to the front of my refrigerator while lagering.
Now I've added the priming sugar solution and am making sure it gets evenly distributed through the beer by gently rolling the priming vessel around a few times....with the lid on of course!
Filling the bottles out of the priming vessel is a snap. I loosen the top so that air is allowed into the vessel to allow a free flow of beer. I do this over the sink so that clean up is a breeze. After filling each bottle, I screw the cap on tight, rinse off the bottles, and dry them with a towel.
I then put the batch of bottles in a reusable cardboard box, put a batch number on each cap written with a marker on a piece of removable scotch tape, affix the sticky note, and set them aside for at least two weeks of fermentation.
Tasting the Results
The proof of the process is, of course, in the tasting. I keep pint glasses in the freezer at all times. This way, when it's "beer thirty" at our house, I can dive right in!
I hope that this photo essay helps you to see just how easy making your own home brew can be, with the help of Mr Beer that is!