Notes from Brewing 101: What You Need To Know To Get Started, first taught at Atlantia University, Fall 2008
This is the class handout. The class was taught to people interested in an historic context: Europe before 1600
Equipment list for both Beer and Mead
Mead’s alcohol is honey-based, wine’s is grape-based, and beer’s is grain-based. The processes are similar but the chemistry is very different. Other than final storage, you use basically the same equipment for both:
- A large brewing pot (at least 5 gallons)
- Carboy or large glass vessel for fermentation
- Rubber stopper for the carboy with hole in the stopper for airlock
- Airlock (“bubblers”)
- Thermometer (brewing or candy)
- Spoon large enough to reach all the way down into 5 gallons of boiling water
- 6-8 feet of siphon hose (Home Depot)
- Racking cane
- Bottling cane
- Large funnel with built-in strainer
- Food grade plastic brewing bucket with locking lid
Short Glossary for Mead and Beer
Lees or Barm: the sediment (mostly dead yeast) on the bottom of a fermenter
Must: honey and water combination for mead, w/o addition of yeast
Primary Fermenter: a brewing pail or glass carboy used for the initial, vigorous stage of fermentation. From your stove to the primary fermenter.
Racking: Siphoning clear alcohol off the remaining sediment, or lees
Secondary/Tertiary etc. fermenter: a brewing pail or glass carboy used in the fermentation process after the primary.
Wort: “grain juice” made with malted grain, water, hops soaked or cooked in hot water, that you add yeast to in order to make beer
Yeast Starter for Mead and Beer
I use a half-liter wine (demi) bottle and some sterile cotton. Honey doesn’t have the nutrients yeast really needs, so I use room-temperature fruit juice – about half the bottle’s worth. You can also use warm water and table sugar (nutrient problem again) or some honey dissolved in water.
Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water – a funnel is very helpful. Do Not Stir!
Put the sterile cotton in to cork it and let it stand in a warm place. How long depends on the yeast – read the packet. Can be 12 hours, can be 15 minutes. You’ll know the yeast is working by the layer of foam on top of the liquid.
For beer, you can also dissolve dry malt in warm water (about 3 lbs to a quart of water) and pitch your yeast in that a day ahead. Add it to the wort you’re preparing when it cools, as you would any yeast (leave room for it). Essentially you’re letting the yeast get a head start on multiplying before you pitch it into the wort.