The Brewer's Apprentice is the largest homebrew supplier in New Jersey and the tri-state area.  We carry a wide variety of malt grains, malt extracts, hops, liquid and dry yeast, as well as many other ingredients such as exotic herbs and spices, fruit puree and flavoring, and much more.  We have an extensive catalog of home brew recipes that have been developed over the 20 years we have been in business, covering every beer style from ales to porters and everything in between.  Whether you're an extract or all-grain homebrewer, we'll have a recipe to suit you perfectly.  If you create your own recipes, no problem!  We have a huge inventory of homebrew ingredients and we replenish thousands of pounds of stock every week, so you know that your order will be as fresh as possible, every time!

Getting Started ....

The following instructions will guide you through the basic extract brewing process for all Brewer's Apprentice extract homebrew kits. It is important to note that some of our recipes will include specific directions that will vary from or supplement the general guidance below.  We urge you to review the recipe and instructions included with your homebrew kit, taking note of any additional steps. The success of your brew relies on following recipe specific directions vs. the general directions below.

Tip For Success: Print these instructions for easy reference while brewing.

Step 1) Prepare Your Work Area

The first step is to ensure you are prepared.  This means you have all the necessary ingredients, the equipment recommended below and your equipment is sanitized.   Please review our Sanitizing Tips before starting and double check your recipe kit to ensure you have all of the ingredients included in the recipe.  If you think something is missing, call us before you brew!

  • A brewing pot (at least 16 quarts or larger)
  • A candy or brewing thermometer (preferably with clip)
  • A large, heat-resistant paddle or spoon
  • A fermenter (either a 6.5 gallon bucket or 6 gallon carboy)
  • An airlock
  • If using a carboy - a funnel (for pouring wort into carboy)
  • A cleanser/sanitizer (such as One-Step)
  • Plenty of ice or a chiller (to cool the wort down before the yeast is pitched)
  • 5 gallons of filtered tap water or distilled water (we do not recommend spring water!)

Review the type of yeast you will be using and follow the directions below accordingly:

  • If you are brewing a higher gravity beer (such as barleywine, Belgian trippel, imperial stout, etc.) with either White Labs, we highly recommended that you prepare a yeast "starter" 24 to 48 hours before you brew or pitch additional yeast.  Instructions are available here ... making a yeast starter and from our Instructions Page.  If you are brewing a Brewer's Apprentice recipe, if the gravity is high we include additional yeast.
  • Dry Yeast: Keep it with your other brewing ingredients and we will touch on what to do with it later.
  • Liquid Yeast (White Labs): Keep it in the refrigerator up until you are ready to begin brewing.  Remove the liquid yeast from the refrigerator and place it in your pocket to help warm it up, shaking the vial periodically during the brewing process to ensure the yeast is well mixed.
  • SmackPack (Wyeast): Remove from the refrigerator a few hours before you begin brewing and smack the pack according to the directions on the packaging.  DO NOT pitch the Wyeast unless the SmackPack fully expands.

Step 2) Preparing The Water & Steeping The Grains 

  • If your brew pot is on the small side (16 - 20 quarts {4 - 5 gallons}), collect and heat 2 - 2.5 gallons of water.  If you have a full-sized (30 quart {7.5 gallon} or larger) pot, collect 5 gallons of water.
  • Heat your water to 170°.  * If your recipe doesn't include grains, skip to step 3 at this time* 
  • Once your water has reached 170°, remove the thermometer and turn off the heat.
  • Place your crushed grains into the long cheese cloth sock (a.k.a. grain sock) and tie it off. 
  • Place the sock into the pot of water, making sure to let the knotted end hang outside of the pot.
  • Close the lid and let the grains steep for 30 minutes.
  • Around the 10 and 20 minute mark, lift the lid and bob the grains up and down in the water, returning it to its normal steeping position when done.

Step 3) Preparing For The Boil

  • Ensure you've prepared all of your ingredients and equipment for the boil.
    • Liquid Malt Extract: Check the temperature of the extract by visually looking at it.  If it is too cold, it will move / pour very slowly.  To correct this, place the container in a bath of hot tap water for a few minutes to warm it so it will be easier to pour.
    • Dry Malt Extract: Have a good pair of scissors at the ready and sanitize any equipment that will touch the wort* after it has cooled.
  • For tips on sanitizing your brewing equipment, click here.
  • If you do not have steeping grains, skip this bullet / substep
    • Removing the Steeping Grains: Lift the grain sock, let the grains drain and drip without squeezing the sock. Be patient, you want all the liquid from the sock... there's lots of flavorful wort in there!  However, it's important not to squeeze the grains, or else you'll run the risk of releasing tannins into your beer... and that's not a good thing.
  • Turn the heat on to the highest heat setting and heat your wort to 200° F.

* "Wort" is what beer is called before the yeast is added.

Step 4) Boiling The Wort

  • Add Extracts: When your pot reaches 200°, it's time to add your malt extracts.
    • Liquid Malt Extract: use a spatula to ensure your get every last drop.
    • Dry malt extract: Cut the bag(s) open and carefully, but quickly, pour the dry malt extract into the pot... if poured too slowly, dry malt extract tends to coagulate ... it's not the end of the world if this happens, but it can be a bit messy!
    • Other brewing sugars (such as Belgian candi, brown sugar, honey, etc.): add any other sugars called for in your recipe, but DO NOT add the bag of priming sugar.
  • Stir Well: ensure there are no malt sugars on the bottom of the pot as they may burn and create off flavors.  The malt extract should be totally dissolved within a minute.
  • Watch Your Pot: Despite the old saying, a watched pot does boil!  If a brew pot is left unattended it can easily boil over, leaving a terrible mess behind.
    • The moment your wort starts to boil, shut off the heat.

Tip For Success: For the balance of this process we highly recommend turning off the heat just prior to adding ingredients as this will help avoid sudden flair ups and boil overs.

  • Once your pot hits a boil, and after you've temporarily turned off the heat, it's time to add your first hops (a.k.a. bittering or flavoring hops). Unless your recipe says otherwise, bittering hops arealways added at the beginning of your boil. When you add the hops you will notice that they usually react quite violently. Wait for the hop reaction to subside, there is no need for stirring. Once the hops have settled down, you can turn the heat back on to full. Unless your recipe says otherwise, you will boil your homebrew for 60 minutes. Don't forget, for the next 60 minutes someone should always be watching the pot.
  • Continue boiling your wort and adding hops or other ingredients as indicated in your recipe.
  • When you are done boiling, turn off the heat and put the lid on the pot.

A Note On Hop Additions ... While there are some recipes that stray from the rule, most homebrew recipes follow a pretty strict hop addition schedule. Specifically, most recipes have 2 hop additions: the bittering (a.k.a. boiling) hops and the finishing (a.k.a. aroma) hops. Here are some general rules:

  • Bittering hops are almost always added at the very beginning of the boil and boil in the wort for 60 minutes.
  • Finishing hops are almost always added when there are 15 minutes left in the boil
  • If a recipe uses spices, they are added with the finishing hops.
  • If your recipe uses fruit puree (can); after flame out, cool the wort to below 180, then add the fruit. Fruit extract is added at bottling, to taste.
  • If your recipe has "dry hops" (aroma), place them in the smaller cheese cloth sock (a.k.a as a hop sock) that was provided with your recipe and tie the sock off. When you are seconds away from the end of your 60 minute boil, grab the hop sock with a pair of tongs and fully submerge it in the boiling wort for a couple of seconds... this will help to sanitize it. Immediately put the sanitized hop sock into your fermenter... you will pour your cooled wort onto the hop sock and it will steep in your beer whilst it ferments.
  • If your recipe goes beyond a normal recipe it will have specific instructions, telling you when to add a specific ingredient. 

Step 5) Cooling The Wort

  • Cool the wort to the target range of 60° - 80°F using an ice bath or a "wort chiller". 
    • Fill your sink, tub or other container with plenty of ice and just enough water so that you'll be able to easily put the pot in and the water level will be at a 1/2 to 3/4 of the height of the pot.
    • Every few minutes, gently move / jiggle the pot to cause the wort to swirl / mix to keep the temperature even throughout.
    • Let cool for 15 minutes
    • Using a sanitized thermometer, check the temperature.
    • Once it is the target range of 60° - 80° F, it is ready to be put in a sanitized fermenter.
  • Pour the cooled wort into the fermenter.  Couple of notes:
    • If using a carboy, place a sanitized brewing funnel in the top.
    • There's no need to be delicate at this stage, just make sure you don't spill any wort on the floor. The rougher you pour the beer, the more it sloshes around and foams up... this is a good thing.  When you pour the wort in this manner it's folding in lots of air and oxygen which the yeast will use as they ferment.  However, this is the last time you will be rough with your beer, as introducing oxygen after it has fermented can oxidize  and spoil the beer.
    • NEVER pour hot wort directly into an empty fermenter, nor should you ever pour hot wort directly into a fermenter full of cold water.  Some brewers do this thinking that they can cool the wort, get the beer to volume and save time ... but this is one of the worst things you can do.  If you need to add water to yield 5 gallons, use room temperature water.

Step 6) Taking The Gravity

This is a step often neglected by the beginner and seasoned homebrewer alike. For some reason, it seems that a lot of people think that this step is too complicated or difficult and don't bother with it... but nothing could be further from the truth. Taking the gravity of your beer is extremely quick and easy and offers way more positives than negatives.

Taking your beer's gravity allows you to confirm it was brewed properly and verify it is fermenting. Additionally, with both the original and final gravity the ABV (alcohol by volume) of your beer can be determined.

  • You will need:
    • A "thief" - a device that allows you to take a sample of a fermented beverage in a sanitary fashion.
    • A hydrometer - a long, narrow, buoy shaped glass device with lots of numbers on it
    • A hydrometer test stand (a.k.a. hydrometer test jar) is a tall, narrow vessel that holds the beer sample and allows the hydrometer to float.
  • Original Gravity: Sanitize your thief and collect a beer sample per the manufacturer's instructions sufficient to fill the entire test stand.

Place your sample into the hydrometer test stand along with the hydrometer.

Give the hydrometer a good spin (in the same way you would spin a top), this will help dislodge any air bubbles that could give a false reading. 

When it is done spinning, find where the level of the beer meets the gravity scale, record this number ... it is your original gravity (or O.G. for short).

There may be more than one scale, the scale you want to use is the gravity scale, which ranges from .990 - 1.170.

An average beer will have an original gravity of around 1.045.

  • Final Gravity: When you think your beer is done and the airlock no longer bubbles, carefully collect another sample of beer and measure the gravity again ... this is your final gravity (or F.G. for short).
    • The final gravity should be noticeably lower.  An average final gravity will be around 1.010.
    • To verify your beer is done fermenting, wait a few days and measure it again.  If the gravity changed, the beer is still fermenting.  If the gravities are the same, your beer is done fermenting.
  • Calculating ABV% (alcohol by volume):
    • ABV% = (OG - FG) * 1000 / 7.5
    • For example:
      • OG = 1.045
      • FG = 1.010
      • ABV% = (1.045 - 1.010) * 1000 / 7.5 = 4.66 %

Step 7) Pitching The Yeast

"Pitching" is the term brewers use for putting yeast into beer.  Be sure to review your yeast's packaging for any specific wort temperature recommendation.

  • Pitching Dry Yeast:
    • Option #1: pitch the dry yeast into the fermenter and give it a good shake
    • Option #2: "proof" the yeast beforehand as follows:
      • To proof dry yeast collect a cup of filtered or distilled water in a sanitized, microwavable container and heat so it is the 60° - 80°F range ... this should take less than 30 seconds.
      • Pitch the yeast into this container of water and stir it with a sanitized spoon.
      • Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let stand for 10 minutes.
      • The yeast should be foamy and smell of fresh, yeasty bread.  If so, pitch into your fermenter and give the fermenter a good shake to help mix the yeast in.
      • If the yeast did not proof after 10 minutes, allow up to 30 minutes for it to prove itself.  If the yeast does not proof, we recommend you not use it.  NOTE: if the yeast was purchased from TBA, please contact us immediately so we can address this with you.
  • Pitching Liquid Yeast:
    • White Labs Yeast
      • Take the yeast vial out of your pocket and give it one last shake to make sure it is thoroughly mixed and fluid.
      • Sanitize the cap either by spraying or dipping it in a homebrew sanitizer or alcohol.
      • Shake off any excess sanitizer
      • Carefully twist off the cap and pour the yeast into the fermenter
    • Wyeast SmackPack:
      • Spray or dip the pack into sanitizer or alcohol.
      • Shake off any excess sanitizer
      • Cut off one of the top corners and carefully pour the yeast into the fermenter
    • Mix: give the fermenter a good shake to ensure the yeast has been thoroughly mixed in with the beer.
  • Insert Air Lock:
    • Fill the airlock half way with water.  Insert the airlock into the fermenter or carboy.

Step 8) Fermentation

  • Primary Fermentation:
    • Place your fermenter in a cool, dark location (i.e., <70° F) with a constant temperture.  A basement or closet are good options.  If using a carboy, it's a good idea to wrap a bath towel or blanket around it, as this will both prevent any light from striking the beer as well as help to insulate it.
    • Check on Your Baby:
      • Within 24 to 48 hours from the time you pitched your yeast, you beer should begin to ferment.  As the yeast start to eat the sugars in the beer, they will produce alcohol and burp out CO2 which you will see being released through the air lock as bubbles. 
      • This phase of fermentation is called "primary fermentation" and it usually will last between 1 to 2 weeks.
      • A good indication as to when primary fermentation is nearing completion is 1 bubble from the airlock per minute is for ales and 1 bubble per two minutes for lagers.
    • Collect a FG as described in Step 6
  • Secondary Fermentation:
    • If you will not be doing a secondary fermentation, skip to Step 9) Bottling
    • This step refines your beer by allowing for any remnant particles fall to the bottom; any last bits of sugar are fermented by the yeast; and all of the flavors start to marry together.
    • If you choose to put your beer into a secondary fermenter, we highly recommend a 5 or 6 gallon carboy. One of the reasons you are putting your beer into secondary fermentation is for clarity and it's very hard to tell how clear your beer is in a bucket.
    • Siphon your beer delicately; you don't want to introduce any oxygen.
    • Once the beer has been moved, replace the airlock and return it to your storage location for a minimum of 2 weeks.

Step 9) Bottling

  • At least an hour before you plan on bottling, ideally the night before, move your fermenter from its storage location to a counter top, being very careful not to disturb the trub (the gross stuff that settles to the bottom of your fermenter), as you want this to be left behind when you move your beer into the bottling bucket.
  • Ensure you have all of the proper equipment and materials on hand.  At a minimum you'll need:
    • A bottling bucket with spigot
    • A bottle filler
    • Siphon equipment (we recommend using an auto-siphon and racking cane)
    • Tubing for siphon equipment (4' - 6') and bottle filler (3")
    • Bottles (approximately 2 cases of 12 oz. or 22 oz.)
    • Crown caps (if using cap-able amber bottles*)
    • A bottle capper (if using cap-able amber bottles*)
    • A small sauce pot
    • A spoon
    • 5 oz. of priming sugar

*We strongly recommend that you avoid using clear or green beer bottles!

  • Sanitize everything but the capper, pot, and spoon.
    • Add 6 tablespoons of One-Step or B-Brite into the bottling bucket (make sure the spigot is closed!) along with the bottle filler, siphon equipment, and tubing.  Fill it to the brim with warm tap water.
    • Place the crown caps in a small bowl add a small sprinkle of sanitizer and fill with warm tap water.
    • In a large laundry sink or other container, mix an appropriate amount of One-Step or B-Brite with warm tap water and submerge all of your bottles in the solution.
    • Let the equipment and bottles soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
    • Rinse the bottles and place on a bottle tree or upside down in their original cases to dry.
    • Empty the bottling bucket through it's spigot... this will ensure that there's no bacteria hiding within the spigot. When the bucket is drained of sanitizer, rinse it and the equipment within, making sure that there's no sanitizing chemicals left behind. Don't forget to let some water drain through the spigot as well!
  • Delicately attach 4 to 6 feet of tubing to the cane within the sanitized auto-siphon and attach the other end to a racking cane.
  • Carefully slide the auto-siphon into the beer that is sitting on the counter making sure not to jam the bottom of the siphon into the trub at the bottom!
  • Place the bottling bucket on the floor beneath the fermenter.
  • Place the racking cane into the bottling bucket.
  • Gently start the auto-siphon and siphon the beer to the bottom of the bottling bucket making sure the racking cane is at the very bottom of the bottling bucket so that no splashing occurs. It's a good idea to place a lid on top of the bottling bucket at this point... you won't be able to put it on all the way because of the racking cane. That's okay, you're covering to prevent any germs from settling into the bucket as it fills.
  • Priming Sugar Prep:
    • While the beer is siphoning into the bottling bucket, bring a pint of filtered or distilled water to a boil.
    • Add the entire 5 oz. packet of the priming sugar from your recipe kit. Stir the sugar to dissolve.
    • Boil the sugar water for a few minutes and then turn the heat off.
  • When the beer is almost done siphoning into the bottling bucket, gently and evenly pour the sugar water into the beer (it's okay that the sugar water is hot).
  • Use the racking cane as a spoon and carefully, but thoroughly, stir the the sugar into the beer. It's extremely important to make sure that the sugar is evenly distributed throughout the beer so that all of the beer bottles carbonate evenly later on!
  • Once all of the beer has been siphoned into the bottling bucket, move the fermenter and siphon equipment out of the way
  • Carefully lift the bottling bucket onto the counter. Make sure the lid is on and the spigot is facing you and pointing down.
  • Carefully attach the bottle filler to the spigot with small piece of tubing (same diameter tubing that you used for siphoning, just a few inches is fine). Once the bottle filler is securely connected to the spigot , open the spigot ... the beer will flow to the bottom of the bottle filler.
  • Empty the bowl and rinse the caps.
  • Ensure your bottles and capper are nearby.
  • Bring a bottle up to the bottle filler, allowing the bottle filler to slide inside the bottle... when the bottom of the bottle filler contacts the bottom of the bottle, the beer will begin to flow.
  • Fill the bottle to the top and then quickly remove it from the filler.  The beer level should drop to about half way up the neck.
  • Get crown cap, trying to avoid touching the inside of the cap (to help prevent infections later on), place it on top of the bottle and "cap it" with the capper.  Don't push too hard with the capper! If you see a dimple in the cap after capping, then you probably pushed to hard.
  • Repeat until all your beer is bottled.

Step 10) Conditioning

  • Store your beer for at least 2 weeks at the right temperature
    • For ales, room temperature is ideal (around 68°)
    • For lagers, the high 50's to low 60's is best.
    • Usually the basement suits this purpose perfectly for most households. If you don't have a basement, a closet will work. By no means, do you ever want to condition or store your beer in the garage! Keeping your beer in the garage is about the same thing as keeping your beer outside, and the yeast will suffer from the temperature fluctuations as the day turns into night and night into day. In short, keep your beer in a place that consistently has a temperature that is as close as possible to the ranges mentioned above.
    • Test one of your bottles for carbonation after two weeks or so.  Open it and listen for the "phhfffssst!" sound that you're used to hearing when you open any good bottle of beer.
    • If that sound is there, then pour some of the beer into a glass and look at the carbonation.  If it looks carbonated, taste it. If you are happy with the level of carbonation, then you can continue to store the beer where it is, or put it in a fridge.
  • If the beer isn't completely carbonated, the only thing you can do is wait.
    • Sometimes homebrew will carbonate quickly and sometimes it will take longer than expected. A biological process is occurring in each and ever bottle and just like everything else in life, you can't always predict what will happen. Most beers should be completely carbonated within a month if stored at the right temperature. 
    • Note beer that is higher in alcohol can take much longer to bottle condition... some beers are known to take months to carbonate!

Step 11) Drink! 

Now it's time to enjoy the fruits of your labor!  

You should be enjoying a beer that is probably better than you expected... and it will only get better!  Pilsners and lagers will develop better and better flavor for 3 to 6 months after bottling. Then they will plateau for another 3 to 6 months ... giving you up to a year to enjoy your homebrew.

If you brew bigger beers, they can develop even more flavor and age even longer.  As a general rule, the more alcohol and/or hops a beer has, the longer it can age.  Barleywines, some IPAs and stouts don't hit their full potential until they've aged 6 months to a year!