The following instructions are geared towards our All World Equipment packages. If you own different equipment, you will need to interpret these instructions accordingly. Please read all of the instructions before starting to brew. If something happens which is not covered here, or you have any additional questions, feel free to call our help line at (800) 266-4677. If we are closed, or you cannot get through, we suggest that you consult Charlie Papazian's book The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing or David Miller's Brewing the World's Great Beers. These books are recommended introductions to the homebrewing hobby. Or you can leave a message and we will call you back. Normally there is nothing that happens during the brewing process that can't wait a day or so for a solution.
Step 1: Check Contents. When you receive your kit, open the box and check to make sure everything is there. Your ingredient kit box should contain one or more packages of malt extract (brown syrup or powder), a specialty grain blend, muslin grain bag, bittering and aroma hops, yeast, and a bag containing priming sugar (white powder) . Check on the box label for a specific and complete ingredient list. If you find that anything is missing, call us immediately, before you start to brew the batch, and we will get you the missing item(s) as soon as possible.
Step 2: Sanitize Your Fermentation Equipment. Before you brew, you should clean all of your fermentation equipment: drum tap, fermenter, and airlock. (See your equipment package instructions for tips) To clean, prepare a sanitizing solution of 1 TEASPOON of bleach or 1 TABLESPOON B-Brite per gallon of water and soak all fermentation equipment for 30 minutes (1/2 hour). If using BTF Iodophor sanitizer, use 1/2 oz. (2 capfuls) per 5 gallons of water, and soak for only 2 minutes. Thoroughly rinse all parts after soaking. We recommend a hot rinse followed by a cold rinse.
Step 3: Assemble Your Fermenter. After you have sanitized your 6 gallon fermenter and lid, drum tap, and gaskets, you can put the pieces together. See your equipment kit instructions for assembly details. Check that the little black grommet is in the small hole in the fermenter lid.
Step 4: Preparing your Yeast. If you purchased dry yeast, you can skip this step. If you purchased liquid yeast, follow the directions on the back of the package. ** CALL IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS**
Step 5: Heating the water. It works best to add 2 - 2 1/2 gallons of water to your clean brew-pot. If your tap water tastes good use it, otherwise use filtered or bottled water. Preferably your pot will be stainless steel or ceramic on steel and will hold 16-24 quarts. Turn your burner on medium and start heating the water. At the same time, place the bag(s) of liquid malt extract in a sink of hot water to make pouring the malt easier.
Step 6: Adding Specialty grains. If you have purchased a basic kit from other stores, you might not have used specialty grains before. In addition to adding interesting flavor-tones, these grains will improve head retention and shelf-life. This means that your beer will constantly improve in flavor as it ages during the next 6 months. Take the ziplock bags of crushed grain and pour into the cheesecloth bag (muslin grain bag). After you pour the grains into the muslin bag, tie a knot in the top and gently shake the grains over a garbage can to get rid of powdery portion of the grains. The powdery portion of the grains will not contribute any extra flavor to your finished beer. Add the grain bag to your brew-pot containing water, which you began to heat in Step 5. It is important that these grains NOT BE BOILED. Boiling the grains could result in overly cloudy and harsh-tasting beer. For this reason, it is advisable to gradually heat the water, and to steep the grains for 20 - 30 minutes. Your muslin bag acts as a "tea bag" so you can extract more flavor and color by lifting and dropping it several times as the water is heated.
Step 7: Adding the Liquid Malt. After you have steeped the grain, remove the grain bag from the hot water and discard. Shut off the heat, or move the pot to a cool burner. Doing this will prevent scorching. Otherwise, the cooler, denser malt will sink right to the bottom of the hot pan. Then, take the bag of malt heating in your sink, and pour it into your brew pot by holding the bag by one end then cut the other clipped end to allow the malt to flow into your brew pot. See image on the right. You might have to squeeze the bag to remove all the malt. If you have a second bag of malt add it at this time. REMEMBER TO ADD ALL OF THE BAGS OF MALT EXTRACT, BUT DO NOT ADD THE BAG OF WHITE POWDER!! After you have added the malt extract, stir well until the malt has completely dissolved. If your kit included powdered malt extract, you can add it as you would liquid malt. Don't worry if the powdered malt clumps when you add it, just try to break up the biggest pieces. The rest will dissolve as the water boils. If you are making the Bagpipe Ale Kit or the Fur Trader Trappist Ale add the brown sugar or Belgian Candi sugar and stir until dissolved. If you purchased the Spirit of St. Louis Lager kit add the rice syrup at this time.
Step 8: Boiling the Malt extract (Wort). To avoid burning the malt, you should stir the mixture frequently during the boiling step. It is always best to slowly bring the wort to a boil. This will not only prevent burning on the bottom of your pan, but will also help you to avoid a boil over. A boil over occurs when your thick malt mixture nears a boil, and a thick foam is produced within seconds. Never leave the pan unattended during this stage! Once the mixture is boiling reduce your heat to a LOW ROLLING BOIL. An excessively hot boil will cause your malt to darken resulting in a darker beer. It is always best to allow the boil to progress with the cover off of the boiling pot.
Step 9: Adding Bittering Hops. When the boil first begins, you should add the contents of the hop package labelled "Bittering Hops". It is very important that you boil these hops for at least 30 minutes in order to extract the bitterness. If you boil your bittering hops for less than 30 minutes you can end up with a coarser/harsher tasting beer, whereas a 30 - 45 minute boil will give you a smooth bitterness.
Step 10: Adding aroma hops. During the last 5 - 10 minutes of the boil, add the entire contents of the hop package labelled "aroma hops" in the catalog. Aroma hops will add a very small amount of bitterness, but, more importantly, they will contribute an overall hop flavor and aroma to your beer. If you have more than one type of aroma hop or more than 1 oz. of aroma hops you can step them in at the end of the boil. Eg. Add some at the last 5 minute mark and some 2 minutes before the end of the boil/ After your aroma hops have been boiled, remove the brew-pot from the heat and cover.
Step 11: Rinsing your sanitized brewing equipment. After soaking your equipment in sanitizing solution, rinse with hot water first, then cold water. MAKE SURE TO THOROUGHLY RINSE ALL EQUIPMENT!
Step 12: Adding the hot wort to the fermenter. Place the pot containing the wort in a sink of cold water to cool for about 20 - 30 minutes. Add 3 gallons of cold water to your 6 gallon All World plastic fermenter before you pour the hot wort into it. The colder the water, the better. Run your tap for a few minutes to get the coldest possible water. If you are using our plastic fermenter, you should pour the hot wort into the fermenter, and loosely place the fermenter lid on your 6 gallon bucket but do not tighten it down. Your airlock should be in place on the cover at this time.
Step 13: Taking a Hydrometer Reading. Before taking your hydrometer reading, make sure to thoroughly mix the wort to get an even consistency, otherwise your initial hydrometer reading might be in error. With our 6 gallon plastic fermenter it is easy to take a hydrometer reading. Hold the hydrometer tube under the drum tap and fill the tube until the hydrometer begins to float, then shut off the spigot. Float your hydrometer and let it sit at room temperature for about 1/2 hour, and take note of the reading on the potential alcohol scale. See (Fig. 2) You will need this in order to compare it with your final reading if you wish to know the percent alcohol of your finished beer.
A Note on Yeast Types. Yeast can essentially be broken down into two types: ale and lager. If you have ale yeast, you should ferment at temperatures between 60 and 70°F. It will take an ale yeast 1 - 2 weeks to ferment your beer. If you have a lager yeast, you should let your fermenter sit at room temperature after pitching. When you notice fermentation has begun, move your fermenter to a cooler space (50 - 55°F.) for fermentation. If you can't achieve fermentation temperatures between 50-55°F use a dry lager yeast as liquid lager yeasts are unstable at higher temperatures. If your fermentation temperatures are above 65°F always use an ale yeast. If you ferment at room temperature, the cooler the space the better. Many brewers have successfully lagered in root cellars, basements, and laundry rooms. Lager yeast takes anywhere from 3 - 6 weeks to ferment. The cooler the fermentation temperature, the longer it will take. Cooler temperatures will produce a cleaner tasting beer.
Step 14: Pitching the Yeast. When the fermenter feels cool to the touch (about 75 - 85°F), it is safe to add the yeast. Add the powdered yeast to a cup of lukewarm (75 - 85°F.) water and let sit for about 10 - 15 minutes. Then add the cup of warm water and yeast to the fermenter. Use a sanitized brewing spoon to stir the yeast into the wort to aerate and to mix the yeast into your beer. Mixing the yeast will also incorporate air which is important for a healthy fermentation. Add 2 teaspoons of water to the airlock (see Fig. 3) and place in the grommeted hole in the lid of the fermenter. Inserting the airlock is easier if you wet the end of the airlock before putting it in the fermenter. It also helps to gently screw the airlock into the lid. Tighten the lid at this time. Within 24-36 hours, fermentation should begin, but it can take as long as 60 hours.
Step 15: Fermentation. In the next 7-14 days, your wort will be transformed into beer, thanks to the work of yeast cells. You should keep a careful eye on fermentation during the first 2-3 days since this is when yeast is most active.
Troubleshooting. If your airlock does not bubble within 3 of days of pitching, check the cream - colored drum tap. If you see any foaming inside of it, your beer is fermenting and everything is okay. You may also remove the air lock and peek through the hole. If you see foam on the surface of the beer it is fermenting. If you are still unsure of fermentation take a hydrometer reading. Your reading should be lower than your initial reading if fermentation is taking place. If your hydrometer reading is the same as the initial one, wait another day and repeat this process. If you still don't notice any fermentation pitch another package of yeast. We suggest that you keep an extra package of ale or lager yeast on hand as a precaution. If you need assistance call (952)942-0589 and we will do our best to assist you.
Step 16: Secondary fermentation. (Optional) After 7-10 days, you have the option of transferring your beer to a glass carboy or clean plastic fermenter to aid in the clarification process. This stage is optional and should only be done if you have a glass carboy or other fermentation container. If you don't have a glass carboy, skip this step and proceed to bottling (Step 17).
Secondary fermentation is just a continuation of primary fermentation, only the pace of the conversion of sugars to alcohol by yeast cells has slowed down. At this stage, the yeast cells will continue to fall to the bottom of the fermenter, a process you can observe if using a glass carboy. Extended secondary fermentation has numerous benefits including reduced sediment in your bottles, and a clearer-looking and cleaner-tasting beer. You can also count time spent in secondary fermentation (2-4 weeks is sufficient) as aging time, meaning you spend less time aging after you bottle. Extended secondary fermentation will improve any beer, and is highly recommended if using a lager yeast.
To transfer the beer, place your full fermenter on a table top. If using a WindRiver plastic fermenter, attach the length of drum tap tubing (the larger diameter tubing) to the cream - colored drum tap, and place the other end at the bottom of your glass carboy or clean plastic fermenter. Remove the airlock then open the spigot, and the beer should flow from one container to the other. If you have a fermenter without a spigot or you fermented in a glass carboy, you will have to siphon from one container to the next. (See step 19 on siphoning) This is also covered by both Charlie Papazian in his book The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing and David Miller in Brewing the World's Great Beers. The transfer should be quiet, to avoid aeration which can cause off flavors in your beer.
TO GET THE MOST OUT OF SECONDARY FERMENTATION USE A GLASS CARBOY AND NOT A PLASTIC FERMENTER!
Step 17: Prepare to Bottle. After 2 - 3 weeks, your beer should have finished fermenting. You can confirm this by taking hydrometer readings on consecutive days. If the two readings are the same, you are ready to bottle. You will need about 2 1/2 cases of 12 oz. bottles for every 5 gallons of beer. Bottles should be returnables. Screw tops will not work. After you have the bottles, soak them overnight in a bleach solution (see Step 2). The next day, use your bottle brush to clean out any remaining residues. Next, sanitize the clean bottles. You can use your bottling bucket as the container for mixing your sanitizing solution. Attach your bottle filler to the 3/8" plastic tubing, and attach the other end of the tubing to the spigot. Then, open the spigot and fill each bottle with sanitizing solution, and let soak. After 30 minutes for bleach or 2 minutes for BTF, pour out the sanitizing solution and thoroughly rinse each bottle. We sell a Jet Spray Bottle Washer to make this job much easier. At this time you should visually inspect each bottle to make sure that it is clean. If you have a dishwasher- you can greatly simplify the sanitation process. Place the clean bottles in the dishwasher and run through the short cycle with NO soap. The heat from your dishwasher will sanitize the bottles. Make sure the bottles are clean before putting them in the dishwasher. After the bottles have been sanitized and rinsed, rinse the plastic bucket, tube, and bottle filler with hot and then cold water.
Step 18: Assemble Your Bottling Bucket. After your beer has stopped fermenting , you will be ready to bottle. You must first assemble your bottling bucket. See your equipment package instructions for details.
Step 19: Bottling (Siphoning and Sanitizing). Dissolve 3/4 - 1 cup of corn sugar (bag of white powder included with your ingredient kit) into 1-2 cups of water and boil for 10 minutes. You can boil the sugar in a microwave, if this is more convenient. Make sure to measure out the corn sugar because the priming sugar included with your kit is more than 1 full cup. Using too much priming sugar can result in broken bottles or a beer that gushes out of the bottle. (If desired you can substitute any of the following for the 3/4 cup of corn sugar: 1 1/2 C dry malt extract or 1/2 C packed brown sugar). It is very important that you not boil your bottle caps. Boiling bottle caps often destroys the inner seal in the cap which can lead to under carbonated beer in the bottle. Instead, we suggest that you use your sanitizer of choice (see Step 2 for more information on sanitizers) to sterilize the caps. Rinse the caps with water prior to placing them on the bottles. Pour the priming sugar syrup you just boiled in the bottom of your bottling bucket.
If you used a glass carboy- siphon the beer from the carboy to the bottling bucket. To ensure a good siphon, you will need to place your carboy on a tabletop, and the plastic bottling bucket at least 2 feet below it. Rinse your mouth out with some type of antiseptic mouthwash, or 155 proof vodka. Place the long straight end of your racking tube (make sure the black cap is still attached to the straight end) in the full carboy. Attach your flexible tubing to the curved portion of the racking tube and put the other end of the tubing in the bottling bucket. To get the beer flowing, suck on the end of the tube and place it into the plastic bucket. If you are having trouble getting the siphon going, it is probably because there is a small air leak where the racking tube and flexible tubing connect. We sell a hose clamp to eliminate this air leak. Otherwise, push the tubing further up the curve on the racking tube.
If you used a 6 - gallon fermenter- the procedure is much easier. Just attach the larger diameter length of plastic hose to the drum tap. Place the unattached end of the hose in your bottling bucket, remove the air lock and open the drum tap. Beer will flow into the bottling bucket. After you have transferred the beer, gently stir for 2-3 minutes to ensure an even distribution.
Step 20: Bottling (Filling bottles and capping). Take your sanitized and rinsed bottles and bottle-caps and arrange them as you wish. It works best if you arrange your bottles and bottle-caps within easy reach of your bottling bucket, which has now been filled with beer. Place the filled bottling bucket on a tabletop. Now, attach a sanitized and rinsed 3/8 " diameter piece of plastic tubing and bottle filler to the spigot. Then, open the spigot to let the beer flow. Grab your first bottle, place the bottling tip at the bottom of the bottle. You can stop the flow by lifting the bottle filler off the bottom. Fill each bottle to about 1/2 " below the top. After the bottle has been filled, place the cap on the top of the bottle, but do not immediately tighten. Then move on to the next bottle. After you have finished filling all of the bottles, then go back and begin crimping the bottle caps with your capper, starting with the first bottle you have filled. Crimp the bottles in the order they were filled.
Step 21: Storing and Aging. After having finished bottling, you should place the bottles into cases and move them to a dark space in your house (68 - 75°F.) Store the bottles for about two weeks at this temperature to allow them to carbonate. At this point, you can move them to a cool space in your house (45 - 65°F.). If you used a lager yeast, store the bottles in your refrigerator after they are carbonated. Although they will be ready to drink at this time, you can greatly improve the flavor by aging them for 6 - 8 months. Our stronger beer kits (Dopplebock, Barleywine & Imperial Stout) will greatly improve after 3 -6 months of aging in the bottle. You can prove this to yourself by saving some bottles from each batch, and allowing them to age.
Step 22: Pouring Your Homebrew. Unlike most commercially produced beers, your homebrew contains live yeast. As your bottles carbonate, you will notice that a sediment forms on the bottom as the yeast converts the priming sugar to carbon dioxide. Tilting your bottle while pouring (decanting) will help you avoid adding this sediment to your glass of beer. If you do pour the sediment into your beer, don't worry. Your beer might look hazy, but you'll get a good dose of vitamin B to prevent a hangover the next day. Remember to drink in moderation and enjoy your beers with good friends. Cheers!
We hope that you enjoyed both making and drinking your WindRiver BrewMaster Beer Kit, and if you have any questions or comments feel free to give us a call. Thanks again and we hope that you will try more of our wide selection of beer kits to share with your family and friends. Enjoy!