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Beer Kit Instructions – How to brew beer from a kit

This tutorial on how to brew beer using a kit was originally written by ‘tubby_shaw’ It’s a superb guide on brewing beer at home using a kit, and is best suited for premium high quality beer kits.

Beer Kit Instructions – How to brew beer from a kit

Two can or all malt beer kits are the pinnacle of beer kit brewing, these kits are available in a wide range of beer styles and are the best that can be experienced in home brewing before taking up extract or grain brewing.

This kit is Bardon bitter from Matchless Homebrew.

The kit contains two cans of hopped malt extract, comprehensive instructions and a sachet of yeast.

Recommended equipment is two 30l fermentation buckets with lids and taps, your choice of sanitising solution, a kettle, thermometer, hydrometer and trial jar and campden tablets or campden powder.
The first stage of the process is to clean and sanitise the fermentation buckets.
My recommendation before doing anything further is to dechlorinate your brewing water. Using 1/2 a crushed campden tablet or the equivalent of campden powder stirred into 25L of tap water will immediately remove all chlorine and chloramines which can give your finished beer a chemical or medicine taste.
Adding the campden powder to the tap water

Adding Campden to brewing water

Standing the two cans in hot water for 5 minutes prior to opening will soften the contents and make them easier to work with. Make sure to use a clean can opener.

Empty the can contents into the fermenting vessel.

Use some of the boiled treated water to rinse out all of the can contents.

Empty the dissolved contents of the cans into the fermenting vessel.
Warning the can will be very hot, use oven gloves or similar to protect your hands!
Stir to dissolve the bulk of the malt extract in the hot water added from the can.

Using the tap on the bucket containing your treated water, drop your treated water into the dissolved kit contents. This will ensure thorough mixing and also aerate your wort to give the yeast the best possible start.

Check that the temperature of your wort is between 20 and 28 Celsius.

If the temperature is correct add the yeast.

Take a gravity reading. In this case 1.040. If you plan to return the sample to the fermenter make sure that the hydrometer and trial jar were sanitised.

Taking a hydrometer reading

18 hours later at 20C and the yeast crop is beginning to form nicely

28 hours in and the yeast head looks like this.

7 days later and fermentation is finished
This is how it looks after a week, after another 3 days, it’ll clear down considerably and be ready for kegging.

OK so it’s been 8 days, gravity is 1.012, but now it’s time to keg.
I will be using a plastic home brew keg for this how to.
The keg was cleaned with Oxyclean, then sanitised with a solution of cheap, thin, unscented bleach. Then rinsed well with cold tap water and finally swilled out with a kettle of boiling water. (Be careful)
50g of sugar (I used demerera, but use what you prefer) was weighed out.

The sugar was added to the keg.
Using a length of hose from the tap on the fermenter, the beer was run into the keg which mixed in the sugar.

Once all the beer was in the keg a burst of gas from an S30 cylinder was added.

After 5 minutes to allow the CO2 to settle, the lid was cracked to vent the air in the keg and leave a protective blanket of CO2.
This keg has a mechanical pressure relief valve, a further squirt of gas and the indicator can be seen to be OK (Green showing)

40 Pints of Bardon bitter conditioning.

Give it a couple of weeks before checking for clarity.






Methods of Mashing

What is Mashing?

Mashing is part of the all-grain brewing process. Put simply, it is the act of mixing malted grains with hot water to convert their starch into sugar, it is this sugar which the yeast convert into alcohol giving us beer. Mashing is half science, half art; there are many different ways of mashing grains, and everyone does things slightly differently to eachother. When you are starting all-grain brewing for the first time, it is best to stick to the tried-and-tested methods of mashing, and find one that’s good for you. In this post I will be summarising the four basic mash types, and with a little help from various online sources will try to explain what makes each one different.

The Four Basic Types of Mashing

1. Single Infusion Mash

The Single Infusion Mash is the the most simple, and arguably the most popular mashing method for homebrewers to use. In an infusion mash, room temperature crushed grains are combined with a premeasured amount of hot water at an exact temperature. By taking the temperature of the grain, amount of water needed, and the mash tun’s properties the homebrewer can determine the exact water temperature needed, to ensure that combined with the grains they will achieve a mash in the 148 to 158 F temperature range. Infusion is typically done at a water to grain ratio of around 1.25 quarts per pound of grain. The easiest way to calculate the proper infusion volume and temperature is with an infusion calculator or brewing software such as BeerSmith The mash is then held at that temperature, usually by keeping the mash in an insulated cooler for 45-90 minutes. At this temperature, the mash will readily convert starches into sugars. You can test for conversion of sugars using an iodine test. Simply draw a small quantity of mashed grains out, add a few drops of iodine to it. If the iodine does not turn blue, then the conversion is complete.

2. Temperature Mash

The Temperature Mash is an alternative to the Infusion Mash. Rather than adding a known quantity of hot water, the mixed water and grains are simply raised to the target mashing temperature and held at that temperature until the starch conversion is complete. While this is quite practical for a commercial brewer, temperature mashing presents challenges to home brewers. Most homebrewers use simple pots over a stove or propane burner, and it is difficult to hold a precise mashing temperature for an extended period using just a stove and pot. A popular homebrewing method for acheiving a stable temperature mash is the use of a HERMS (Heat Exchanged recirculating Mash System), or RIMS (Recirculating Infusion Mash System). These systems are expensive, complex, and are usually used by more experienced home brewers. You can find more information about HERMS and RIMS brewing here.

3. Decoction Mash

Dcoction mashing is a traditional German mashing method. In a decoction mash, some of the mash including both grains and water is moved to a second container where it is brought to a boil. The boiling mixture is then added back to the original mash to raise the temperature of the overall mash. Again, a calculator or brewing software is needed to accurately calculate the correct volume to decoct. Traditional decoctions were typically done at higher water to grain ratios of 2.0 qt/lb or more (a thinner mash). More modern techniques often use water to grain ratios closer to the 1.25-1.5 qt/lb range.

4. Multiple Step Mashes

Multiple step mashes are very complex, and are not suitable for novice brewers. Although a single infusion mash is suitable in 95% of cases where modern well modified malts are used, some precooked adjuncts and undermodified malts require protein rests at lower temperature before the main saccrification (sugar conversion) step. These protein rests help to break down complex starches in preparation for saccrification. Infusion, temperature and decoction steps may be combined to achieve multiple step mashes. For example a complex three step decoction mash might start with an initial infusion step to an acid rest at 105 F, followed by a protein rest at 122 F, and a saccrification step at 155 F. In many mash profiles, a mash out step is used to raise the temperature of the entire grain bed in preparation for sparging. The mash out step helps to halt saccirifcation, and also helps ensure an efficient sparge by extracting sugars at a higher temperature.…


We’ve all been there – that horrible moment when we suddenly realised we’ve made a big mistake whilst brewing a batch of beer. Whether it’s remembering, after three days of no fermentation activity, that we forgot to add the yeast on brewday, or realising that we forgot to put the lid on our airlock and that our beer’s been sitting exposed to all kinds of airborne beer-ruining bacteria overnight!

What do we do in these situations? Panic.

“Is it ruined?! What if it’s infected? I must tip it all away down the sink because I messed up and ruined my beer! :(

What should we do in these situations?


Or in laymans terms: Relax, Don’t Worry, Have A Home-Brew!

There’s very little you can do to completely ruin a batch of beer. I once heard a veteran brewer give a panicking newbie the sound advice, “Unless you actually defacated into the fermentation vessel, your beer is going to be just fine.”

Whatever you do, do NOT dump a batch of beer. See how it turns out, and if it’s undrinkable after the full brewing process (after 3 weeks in the bottle!) you are then still not permitted to dump the batch. Beer gets better in time, and the yeast know what they’re doing. Besides, even if you do have an infected batch, it won’t do you any harm! No pathogens can survive in beer, due to the PH level. Even if your beer tastes like a small animal died in it, all it will do is give you an ‘icky tummy’.

So before you tip away that beer you ‘ruined’, give the yeast a chance to do their thing and clean up after your mistakes!…

Airlocks & Blow-off Tubes

What is the difference between an Airlock and a blow-off tube?

An airlock is a water-barrier that allows co2 to escape during fermentation, without allowing airborne particles, bacteria or insects to enter the fermentation vessel.

A blow-off tube replaces the airlock in a fermentation vessel. One end attaches to the top of the fermentation vessel and the other end is submersed in a container full of water.

Which one should I use?

For most brews, an airlock is fine. The advantage of an airlock is that it is relatively small compared to the blow-off tube, and is much easier to maintain. The problem with airlocks is that a very aggressive fermentation can clog the airlock with Krausen, causing a build up of pressure in the fermentation vessel. When that pressure gets too much, either the airlock or the lid of the fermentation vessel will pop off with great force, causing a big mess. A blow-off tube is much less likely to clog up than an airlock.

If you are brewing a beer using a top-fermenting yeast (most wheat-beers are brewed using this type of yeast), then you should always use a blow-off tube. This is because top-fermenting yeast produce a much higher, thicker krausen than regular ale yeasts and are much more likely to cause problems when using an airlock.

How to make a blow-off tube.

1. Attach a piece of sanitised tubing to the opening of your demijohn (or lid of your fermentation bucket) using a sanitised stopper with a hole in it.
2. Half-fill a small container such as a measuring jug or pint glass with water, and place the other end of the tube inside, below the level of the water. You do NOT need to use bleach or sanitising solution for this!…

Gelatin Finings

Gelatin Finings are used to ‘clear’ beer before kegging or bottling. Gelatin is the most powerful organic fining agent available in brewing.

Note: Gelatin is not vegetarian. If you plan to serve your beer to vegetarian friends, do not use Gelatin finings!

Across the Internet on the various brewing forums there is a massive amount of conflicting opinion on the correct way to use gelatin finings. One of the main things that people get wrong, is they boil the gelatin before adding it to the beer. Boiling gelatin will render it useless; do NOT boil the gelatin finings before adding them to the beer! I hope to clear things up here with a definitive method to using gelatin finings to clear a 5 gallon batch of beer. This is a tried and tested method which I have used for many brews with great success.

How To Use Gelatin Finings

1. Ferment your beer as usual. If you have dry hopped the beer with loose hops, rack the beer from under the hops into a sanitised fermentation vessel in order to remove any hop matter.

2. Boil a kettle.

3. Weigh out 1.5 grams of Gelatin for every 5 Gallons of beer.

4. Pour the hot boiled water into a heatproof measuring jug or other heatproof bowl. Add the gelatin powder and stir until dissolved.

5. Cover and cool until it reaches close to the same temperature as the beer.

6. Add to the beer, stirring SLOWLY so as not to introduce oxygen to the beer.

7. Leave for 5 days or until clear.

8. Rack to bottling bucket or keg as usual, being careful not to suck up the layer of yeast sediment.

I hope this helps you get a clearer beer.…

How To: Dry Hopping

What is Dry Hopping?

Dry Hopping is a technique used by brewers to increase the hop aroma in their beer. Usually hops are boiled with the wort to give it bitterness and aroma, however much of the aroma from the hops is lost by boiling them, so dry-hopping adds the aroma that cannot be extracted from the hops during the boil. Many inexperienced home-brewers come across recipes that call for ‘dry hopping’ and do not understand how the process works. Dry hopping is actually a very simple technique which can give your beer greater depth of flavour and aroma with very little work.

How do you ‘dry hop’ a beer?

To dry hop your beer, simply add the amount of hops specified in your recipe at the beginning of secondary fermentation.
1. Ferment the beer as usual until it has finished primary fermentation (take a hydrometer reading and ensure that the beer has reached its final gravity).
2. Using a racking cane and auto-syphon, transfer the beer to an empty, sanitised fermentation vessel being careful not to suck up any of the yeast sediment at the bottom of the beer.
3. Add your hops to the beer – either just chuck them in loose, or put them in a hop sock or muslin bag.
4. Leave for at least 3 days.
5. Using a racking cane and auto-syphon, transfer the beer to a sanitised fermentation vessel before bottling or kegging. Try not to suck up any of the hops during this step, as they will be present in the final beer if you do!

Do you have to boil the hops first?

No. Hops are a natural preservative and do not need to be boiled before being added to the fermenting beer. If you are using a hop sock or muslin bag, you may want to boil that to sanitise it first.

Which hops should you use for dry hopping?

Dry hopping does not add bitterness to the beer, but it does add the aromatic oils that are lost when the hops are boiled. Therefore the best hops for dry hopping are aroma hops with low Alpha Acid content. All of the noble hop varieties including Saaz, Hallertauer, Goldings, Fuggles, and Cascade are great for dry-hopping.

Speciality Grain Guide

Amber Malt

Speciality grains are used by brewers to alter the flavour, colour, and aroma of beer. Speciality grains can be used in both extract and all-grain brewing. In an extract brew, the grains are steeped (soaked in hot water) and removed before the extract is added and the wort is boiled. In an all-grain brew the speciality grains are mashed with the rest of the grain bill.

Here’s a quick guide to some of the most popular speciality grains.

Amber Malt

Amber malt is a lightly roasted chocolate malt. It gives the beer a strong biscuity taste with a coffee and chocolate aroma. Amber malt is often used in English browns, milds and old ales. This malt should only make up 20% or less of the mash when used in an All-grain brew.
Colour: 43 EBC

Potential Gravity: 1.035 SG


Black Malt

Black Malt gives the beer a very dark colour, and a dry roasted flavour. Black Malt is commonly used in Porter and Stout style beers. When used in Porters and Stouts, Black Malt is used for flavour as well as colour. When used in lighter beers Black Malt is used mainly for colour.

Colour: 980 EBC
Potential Gravity: 1.025 SG


Caramalt is a very light crystal malt. It has a strong caramel flavour and is sweeter than regular crystal malt. Caramalt is often used to aid head retention and add flavour. We recommend using caramalt as no more than 10% of the grist.

Colour: 20 EBC

Potential Gravity: 1.035 SG

Chocolate Malt

Chocolate Malt is a very dark roasted malt. It is used primarily in Brown Ales, Porters, and some stouts to impart a deep red/brown colour and dark-chocolate flavour.
Colour: 20 EBC

Potential Gravity: 1.035 SG

Crystal Malt

Crystal Malt gives beer a golden amber colour. It is used in many different beer styles and gives beer a toffee and caramel flavour. Crystal malt also gives the beer more body, and improves head retention.
Colour: 120 EBC (Available in different levels of colour)

Potential Gravity: 1.033 – 1.036SG

Crystal Wheat Malt

Crystal Wheat Malt is a wheat malt with a deeper colour and stronger aroma. It is often used in darker wheat beer styles such as Dunkelweizens. Also known as Carawheat.
Colour: 125 EBC

Potential Gravity: 1.035 SG

Flaked Barley

Flaked Barley is used to add body to the beer and aid head retention. It is more commonly used in darker beers, due to the fact that its high protein content causes haze which is undesirable in lighter coloured beers.
Colour: 3 EBC

Potential Gravity: 1.032 SG

Flaked Maize

Flaked Maize is used to raise the specific gravity without adding body to the beer. It produces a better, less harsh taste than simply adding sugar. It is often seen in recipes for Best Bitters and is used to make the beer lighter and more summery.
Colour: 3 EBC

Potential Gravity: 1.035 SG

Roasted Barley

Roasted Barley gives the beer a burnt bitter coffee taste and very dark red to brown colour. It should only be used in small amounts of 10% or less of the total grain bill.
Colour: 1300 EBC

Potential Gravity: 1.025 SG

These are just a few of the many speciality grains used in brewing. Thanks to Barley Bottom Homebrew Supplies for supplying pictures of the different grains. We highly recommend their online store for homebrew ingredients in the

If you have any questions about this article, or wish to point out any mistakes we have made, please post a comment or email us at and I will get back to you as soon as possible.…