Ingredients: Commercial beer kits always provide 3-4 pounds of malt extract and instructions to add a couple pounds of sugar. Don’t Do It! The resultant beer will have an unpleasant cidery taste. The following is a basic beer recipe:
5-7 pounds of Hopped Pale Malt Extract syrup. (OG of 1.038 – 1.053)
5 gallons of water.
1-2 ounces of Hops (if desired for more hop character)
1 packet of dry Ale yeast, plus 1 packet for back-up.
3/4 cup corn sugar for Priming.
This is a basic Ale beer and quite tasty. You will be amazed. Further descriptions of the ingredients follow.
Malt Extract: Using Malt Extract is what makes first time brewing simple. Malt Extract is the concentrated sugars extracted from malted barley. It is sold in both the liquid and powdered forms. The syrups are approximately 20 percent water, so 4 pounds of dry Malt Extract (DME) is roughly equal to 5 pounds of Malt Extract syrup. Malt Extract is available in both the Hopped and Unhopped varieties. Screen the ingredients to avoid corn sugar. Munton & Fison, Alexanders, Coopers, Edme and Premier are all good brands. Laaglander is another good brand but the brewer needs to be aware that it contains extra unfermentables which add to the body, making the beer finish with an FG of about 1.020.
Using Unhopped extract means adding 1-2 ounces of Hops during the boil for bittering and flavor. Hops may also be added to the Hopped Extracts towards the end of the boil for more Hop character in the final beer. Unhopped extract is preferable for brewers making their own recipes.
A rule of thumb is 1 pound of malt extract (syrup) per gallon of water for a light bodied beer. One and a half pounds per gallon produces a richer, full bodied beer. One pound of malt extract syrup typically yields a gravity of 1.034 – 38 when dissolved in one gallon of water. Dry malt will yield about 1.040 – 43. Malt extract is commonly available in Pale, Amber and Dark varieties, and can be mixed depending on the style of beer desired. Wheat malt extract is also available and more new extracts are coming out each year. With the variety of extract now available, there is almost no beer style that cannot be brewed using extract alone.
The next step in complexity for the homebrewer is to learn how to extract the sugars from the malted grain himself. This process, called Mashing, allows the brewer to take more control of producing the wort. This type of homebrewing is referred to as All-Grain brewing.