The basic equipment you'll need to brew your own beer:

Two vats that can hold at least 5 gallons each. One of these vats must
be airtight. If you don't want to buy the vats you can use a couple
of old Arrowhead water bottles and cork one. These bottles will be
referred to as the Primary Fermentation Vessel (PFV) and the Priming
Vessel. An airlock. Basically a small device which you can push through a hole in
the PFV so that CO2 can escape but air can't get in.
A large pot to boil stuff in. The 3 gallon size is ideal, but a two gallon pot will do.
A siphon hose.
Two siphon tubes. (Hard plastic, one for each end of the hose.)
A bottle capper.
Bottle caps.
Bottles. Twist off bottles will not work. Coors or Bud longneck bar bottles
work the best. Or you can ask Spikes to save you a few
cases. It's kind of cool to have a fridge full of "imports". If you use
Grolsh-type bottles you'll have to get new rubber washers to
maintain an adequate seal. (I don't recommend Grolsh-type bottles.)
A bottle scrubbing brush.
A cheesecloth straining bag.
A large stainless steel stirring spoon.
Not necessary, but very nice: a bottle washing valve. This is a brass
valve & tube combo that fits over the nozzle on your sink. The tube
part points up at an angle. You turn the hot water on, place a bottle over the tube, and push down. A jet of water shoots up the bottle
and cleans it out fairly well. You should still scrub and bleach your bottles though.
And of course, whatever supplies you need to make a particular recipe.
Malt, sugar, hops, etc. More on recipes later.
On cleaning your equipment and bottles:
To keep your beer from getting contaminated it is very important that
you thoroughly clean all of your bottles, vats, etc. with bleach and
hot water before brewing. Do not use soap. Soap leaves a film which
destroys carbonation and ruins the taste of beer, no matter
how much you rinse afterwards.
For vats: scrub them out with hot water, then fill them with hot water,
add a cup of bleach, and let them sit for about ten minutes. You
can toss in siphon hoses, airlocks, vat lids, and anything else you
want to clean at this point. After ten minutes, dump out the water
and bleach mixture and rinse everything with more hot water. Allow
everything to air dry. The vats should be cleaned before and after each use.
For bottles: Rinse them with hot water a few times and then scrub them
out with a bottle scrubber. Hold each bottle up to a 100W bulb and
look through the opening to check for scum. This is especially
important if the bottles have been sitting for a few weeks growing
mold. After the bottles are cleaned sterilize them in bleach as
described above, then rinse.

The Basic Process For Making Beer
In a large cooking pot boil about 1-1/2 gallons of water. Add to the
water your malt extract, corn sugar (dextrose), and bittering hops.
(The hops that you add at the beginning of the boil will make your
beer bitter, the hops that you add at the end of a boil makes your
beer aromatic.) Boil the whole mixture for at least 30 minutes.
While you're boiling the wort (that's what the mixture of malt, hops, and
sugar is called) fill up your primary fermentation vessel (PFV)
with enough cold water so that when you pour in the wort you will
have the proper final amount of beer. That is, if you're making six
gallons, use 4-1/2 gallons of cold water. If you're making 5, use 3-1/2.
When you're done boiling the wort, pour it into the PFV. Seal the PFV
and allow it to cool for several hours, perhaps even overnight. After
it's cooled, sprinkle a package of brewer's yeast on the top of
the brew, allow it to sit for ten minutes, and then stir it in. Reseal
the PFV and push the airlock into place.
Within 24 hours the mix will start to ferment. The yeast is reacting with
the sugar and malt and producing alcohol and CO2. The CO2 will
escape through the airlock (a process called outgassing), without
letting any air in. This is important, since air can contaminate and ruin a perfectly good batch of brew.
After 7-10 days the outgassing will stop since most of the yeast will be
dead. Wait about 2-3 days after the last of the CO2 comes out,
then you're ready to prime and bottle.

Priming and Bottling
OK, your vat is done outgassing, so what you have is several gallons of
flat, unaged beer. If you look in the vat you'll see some scum
floating on the top of the mix as well as a THICK layer of goo on the
bottom of the vat. You do NOT want to drink the goo, it's worse
than dorm food.
So what you do is siphon off the beer and leave the goo behind. It's no
problem if you've got a siphon hose where the bottom of the tube is
sealed and the drain hole is an inch up the side of the tube. So
carefully siphon the mix into another container which we'll call the priming vessel.
Once the mix is in the priming vessel it's ready to be primed and bottled.
Add a cup of dextrose and a teaspoon of brewer's gelatin
for every 5 to 6-1/2 gallons of brew that you have. You may want
to boil the dextrose and gelatin in a pint of water before adding it, it
dissolves easier that way.
After priming the beer IMMEDIATELY siphon the mix into bottles and cap
them. Set the bottles in a dark place and let them age. In 14
days the beer will be "drinkable". After 4 weeks it will be "good". In
six weeks the beer will be "prime".
The reason for the priming step is this: beer is enhanced by carbonation.
You don't want to drink flat beer do you? When you
siphon the beer into the priming vessel there will still be some live
yeast suspended in the liquid. When you add additional dextrose the
yeast that's left reacts with it and produces additional CO2.
However, this CO2 can't escape since the beer has been bottled, so
it carbonates the beer instead. This is also why you must be very
careful when adding the priming sugar since if you add too much the
bottles will explode. Oh yes, the gelatin helps to settle any
suspended particles in the beer so that it won't be murky or smell
like yeast.

This is my favorite recipe for beer. I call it Reprobate Dark, because it's
beyond redemption. You can hold a glass of this stuff up to a 100W
bulb and no light will shine through, even around the edges.

Malt - 3lbs. of Brewmaster Aussie Dried Malt Extract Dark Crystal Malt -
1lb. Black Patented Malt - ground
Corn Sugar - 5 cups for brewing, 1 cup for priming
Hops - 2oz. Northern Brewer for bittering, 2oz. for aroma
Yeast - 1 pkt. (7gm) Old Danish Ale Yeast
Water - 5 gallons of SLO tap
Gelatin - 1 tsp. of brewer's gelatin
Boil a gallon of water and add the malts, sugar, and bittering hops. (If
you buy whole crystal malt, grind it with a coffee grinder first.) Boil
the mix for 25 minutes, add the aromatic hops, and then boil for
another 5 minutes. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth bag
into the primary fermentation vessel. Add enough water to bring the
total yield to 5 gallons. Allow the mix to cool overnight. Sprinkle the yeast on top, wait ten minutes, stir it in. Seal the vat and put the airlock
in place.
This recipe outgasses for a long time. When it's done outgassing prime it
with a cup of dextrose and a teaspoon of brewer's gelatin. Bottle it
and wait at least three weeks before drinking, six weeks for a really
great taste.


Here's a recipe for making Traditional Ale:

3.3 lbs. (Highlander) Traditional Ale malt extract syrup
6-1/4 cups of corn sugar
1 packet of top fermenting ale yeast
1 oz. Cascade hops
2 cups of uncrushed crystal malt
1 tsp. brewer's gelatine

1. Bring 1 gallon of water to a boil in a large pot. After the water has
come to a boil, turn off the heat. Add the malt extract, 5 cups of
corn sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Stir in the hops and
the crystal malt