Making Beer at Home — Photos

I learned how to make home-made wine during a university microbiology course in 1990, and I quickly picked up the hobby. After many years, I picked up making beer, to the pleasure of many friends over the years at local Canada Day celebrations.

Incidentally, while this page follows the preparation of beer from beer concentrate kits, the process is almost identical for making wine from wine concentrate kits.

The photos shown below cover a period of nine weeks, starting in early March, 2023, through to bottling the beer three weeks later at the very end of March, and taste testing the beer about six weeks after that — nine weeks total — in mid May, 2023. Normally, my “official” answer to “How long does it take to make beer?” is “A minimum of six weeks. Don’t believe the instructions when they say two, or three, or four weeks. Just don’t.” (Wine from kits takes about eight to nine weeks minimum.)

Making the beer:

The following is showing a very detailed progression of making beer using two kinds of beer concentrates, a blonde beer, and a brown ale. The narrative of this page will be primarily following the preparation of the blonde beer.

Day one:

First, a couple of kinds of beer concentrate kits were purchased, for a brown ale, and for a blonde beer.

Two beer concentrate kits purchased

Since beer concentrate kits often do not contain fermentable sugars, 1kg bags of dextrose were also purchased at the same time; in this case, about a bag per batch will be used, to produce a bit less than 5% alc/vol given the amount of beer I will be making (although I am not particular at all on this point beyond not wanting the alcohol content to be significantly different either way.)

Bags of dextrose purchased

Having brought the beer concentrates and dextrose home, the first thing I did was take out a beer from a previously brewed batch of beer:

Beer and glass taken out

The beer was poured into the glass:

Beer poured into glass

… and the beer was enjoyed:

Beer enjoyed

On to making new beer:

The aerator on the tap in the laundry tub was removed:

Aerator removed from tap

A five (imperial) gallon water jug was placed under the tap:

Water jug placed under tap

The water was turned on, and the jug filled with water …

Filling jug with water

While the jug was filling with water, a plastic cloth was laid out on the floor:

Plastic cloth laid out

A fermentation bin was taken out (incidentally, the original bin I bought back in late 1990 when I started making wine):

Fermentation bin taken out

A large stirring spoon, pliers, a large spoon, and a can opener, were taken out:

Tools taken out

The now-filled water container was brought out to the plastic cloth:

Filled water jug brought out

A kettle was filled with water …

Kettle filled with water

… the kettle was plugged in …

Kettle plugged in

… and finally the kettle was turned on:

Kettle turned on
Kettle turned on

A jet washer was taken out …

Jet washer taken out

… and the jet washer was attached to the tap in the laundry tub:

Jet washer attached to tap

The tap was turned on again:

Tap turned on

The aforementioned fermentation bin was brought to the laundry tub …

Fermentation bin brought to laundry tub

… then the fermentation bin was placed over the jet washer …

Fermentation bin placed over jet washer

… and I used a finger to activate the jet washer to rinse out the (previously cleaned) fermentation bin:

Fermentation bin rinsed with jet washer
Rinse water draining from fermentation bin

At this point, I took advantage of the moment to jetwash the emptied beer bottle from earlier:

Beer bottle jetwashed

… which was then placed in the dishwasher along with my other dishes, to clean for future bottling purposes (see later on).

Scissors were taken out:

Scissors taken out

The scissors were used to open a bag of dextrose:

Bag of dextrose cut open

The full contents of a bag of dextrose were poured into the fermentation bin, which was brought back to the plastic cloth:

Dextrose poured into fermentation bin
Dextrose poured into fermentation bin
Dextrose poured in fermentation bin

A can of beer concentrate, for the blonde beer, and the can opener, were taken out.

Beer concentrate and can opener taken out

The plastic top was removed from the can, revealing a yeast packet and the kit’s instructions.

Yeast packet and instructions revealed

The yeast packet was taken out …

Yeast packet taken out

… as were the instructions:

Instructions taken out
Instructions opened up

Note that while I generally follow the instructions, I apply my own fine tuned procedures. 🙂

The can opener was used to open the can of beer concentrate:

Beer concentrate can opened with a can opener
Beer concentrate can opened with a can opener

A spoon was used to remove the top of the can:

Spoon used to open can
Can opened up

… and the top of the can was finally properly removed:

Can top removed from can

The viscous beer concentrate was poured into the fermentation bin:

Beer concentrate poured into fermentation bin

The spoon was used to scrape out the rest of the concentrate from the can:

Beer concentrate scraped out of can
Beer concentrate scraped out of can

The kettle of water, while still hot, was reboiled, and boiling water was poured into the can:

Boiling water poured into beer concentrate can

The hot can was picked up with the pliers …

Can picked up with pliers

The hot water was swirled around in the can to dissolved the last of the concentrate from the can walls, and the water was poured out and into the fermentation bin:

Hot water poured out of can into fermentation bin

The rest of the boiling water was poured into the fermentation bin:

Hot water poured into fermentation bin

The large plastic stirring spoon was quickly rinsed under the tap at the laundry tub:

Plastic spoon rinsed with water

The spoon was brought to the fermentation bin:

Spoon brought to fermentation bin

… and the hot water, beer concentrate, and dextrose were thoroughly mixed:

Hot water, beer concentrate, and dextrose thoroughly mixed

The plastic tap placed on the water jug was removed:

Tap seal removed from water jug

The water in the jug was poured into the fermentation bin with the other ingredients:

Water poured into fermentation bin

At this point, all the ingredients are called wort (pronounced “wurt”), and the wort was mixed with the big plastic spoon:

Wort mixed
Wort mixed

The temperature on the thermometer stuck onto the side of the fermentation bin was checked, and the wort temperature had not yet risen come up to fermentation range (one of the temperature ranges would be highlighted were it the case):

Temperature not yet in range

Despite this, and knowing that the water temperature was below optimum range, as opposed to too warm and dangerous to yeast, the yeast packet was taken out:

Yeast packet taken out

The yeast packet was cut open with scissors:

Yeast packet opened with scissors
Yeast packet opened with scissors

The yeast was pitched into the wort (ie. sprinkled onto the surface of the unfermented beer):

Pitching yeast
Pitching yeast

The wort with the yeast was lightly stirred, in order to moisten the yeast and reactivate it:

Wort and yeast lightly stirred

A plastic shopping bag — in fact, one of the bags I’d received when the beer kits had been purchased earlier in the afternoon — was taken out:

Plastic bag taken out

The bag was partially cut so as to allow it to be used as a cover for the fermentation bin:

Bag cut to make plastic cover

Elastics and paper clips were taken out:

Elastics and paper clips taken out

Elastics were looped together:

Elastics looped together

The ends of the looped elastics were joined together with a paper clip to make a “belt”:

Ends of looped elastics joined together

The plastic bag was placed on top of the fermentation bin, covering the wort:

Wort covered with plastic sheet

The elastic loop was wrapped around the plastic sheet to keep it in place on the top of fermentation bin:

Elastic loop wrapped around plastic sheet

At this point, I had to clear the bar so that I could place the fermentation bin, full of wort, on it:

Bar cleared

A chair was placed beside the bar, so as to help in raising the heavy fermentation bin full of wort:

Chair placed to help lifting the bin full of wort

The heavy fermentation bin full of wort was lifted off the floor and onto the chair, in order to allow me to get a better hold on the bin while lifting it up to the level of the bar:

Fermentation bin full of wort lifted onto chair

The fermentation bin full of wort was then lifted up to the level of the bar:

Fermentation bin full of wort lifted up to bar level

… and finally, the fermentation bin full of wort was moved to the end of the bar, against the wall:

Fermentation bin moved to end of bar

The instructions, principally used as piece of paper on which to identify the type of beer in the fermentation bin, were placed within the elastic loop:

Instructions identifying beer placed in elastic loop

The whole process was repeated for the brown ale beer kit, and producing a second identified fermentation bin filled with wort, placed beside the first bin:

Second fermentation bin filled with wort placed on bar

Day two:

Fourteen hours later (the following morning), I peeked into the fermentation bins, and could see signs of the beginnings of fermentation:

Yeast growth after 14 hours

That evening, after about 27 hours had passed, the wort temperature was checked again, and it was barely up to 68F:

Wort temperature up to 68F

… and, at the same time, I peeked again at the wort, noticing more yeast growth:

Yeast growth after 27 hours

Day three:

After about 39 hours, I peeked once again at the wort, and the yeast was bubbling away:

Yeast growth after 39 hours

Day six:

After six days, secondary fermentors were taken out; in this case, a large five gallon plastic bottle, a one gallon jar, and, just in case, a soda bottle for last little bits:

Secondary fermentors taken out

The jet washer was again installed on the tap in the laundry tub:

Jet washer installed again

The secondary fermentors were rinsed out with the jet washer:

Secondary fermentor rinsed
Secondary fermentor rinsed

Racking equipment — items used to transfer the now-fermenting liquid easily — were taken out: Plastic tubing, a stiff plastic racking cane, a cone shaped holder to hold the racking cane (including this item was an oops, since I wouldn’t be needing it on this day), and a clip to hold the plastic tubing in place on the edge of the secondary fermentor:

Racking equipment taken out

The racking tubes were rinsed with water:

Racking tube rinsed

The secondary fermentors were placed on the floor of the bar next to where the fermenting beer was located:

Secondary fermentors placed on bar floor

The racking tube was placed in the fermentation bin with the fermenting beer, and leading all the way down to the floor where the secondary fermentors were placed:

Racking tube placed in fermentation bin and leading down to secondary fermentors

The flow of liquid beer was started by sucking on the end of the flexible section of the racking tubing (avoiding to leave any spit!), which was then secured in the neck of the secondary fermentor using the black clip, allowing for the flow of beer from above down below:

Beer flow begun and tubing secured to secondary fermentor neck

Here is the neck of the racking tube in the fermentation bin, with beer flowing through down to the secondary fermentor:

Beer flowing out of the fermentation bin

And here’s a photo of the secondary fermentor as it was filling with fermenting beer:

Secondary fermentor filling up

At a certain point when the secondary fermentor was almost full, foam formed up to the top of the secondary fermentor …

Secondary fermentor foaming up
Secondary fermentor foaming up

… and the racking tubing was transferred to the gallon jug:

Racking beer into gallon jug secondary fermentor

At this point, I should explain that during the primary fermentation, the fermentation was sufficiently vigorous to avoid air getting back in, while during secondary fermentation and the following period during which solids drop to the bottom of the secondary fermentor, the rate of gas production is insufficient to protect the beer from oxidation and contamination from the air outside the fermentor.

Therefore, airlocks, plugs for the secondary fermentors which allow gas — in this case, carbon dioxide produced by the yeast fermenting the dextrose into alcohol — to escape the secondary fermentors while keeping air from getting back in, were taken out:

Airlocks taken out

Airlocks were filled with water:

Airlock filled with water
Airlocks filled with water

Water-filled airlocks were fitted onto the now-filled secondary fermentors, which were raised up to the level of the bar:

Airlocks fitted to secondary fermentor
Airlocks fitted to secondary fermentors, and secondary fermentors raised to bar level

At the bottom of the fermentation bin, there was a sediment of dead and dying yeast:

Sediment at bottom of fermentation bin

The fermentation bin was brought to the laundry tub, and the sediment was drained out:

Sediment drained from fermentation bin

The fermentation bin was washed and rinsed with the jetwasher and a rag (not shown):

Fermentation rinsed with jetwasher
Washed and rinsed fermentation bin

The airlock was already bubbling at this point:

Airlock bubbling

The whole process was repeated for the other beer, the brown ale, and at this point, a second set of identified secondary fermentors filled with beer was placed beside the first set of secondary fermentors:

Two sets of secondary fermentors with two kinds of beer

Day nine:

At this point, sediments had formed in the secondary fermentors:

Sediment in secondary fermentor

You should start this now if you haven’t already:

Normally, I have a collection of cleaned and de-labeled beer bottles in storage. Should you not have an adequate number of bottles for bottling your beer — 23 litres requires about 66 or thereabouts 341mL bottles, or equivalent — by now you should begin collecting them.

Normally, I get beer bottles from city streets; as I am walking about in the streets, I am continuously on the lookout for empty beer bottles to reuse for my beer; fortunately for brewers like myself, but in more general terms unfortunately, in the general area where I live, they are far more common and abundant than I might want to admit, and, surprisingly, most are in excellent condition! In the following few pictures, I show the cleaning of larger 1.18 litre bottles, since I use them as well as regular 341 mL bottles for beers I produce sometimes.

Other places to get beer bottles are to buy beer at stores, consume the beer, and then clean the bottles; or, ask friends and family to save beer bottles for you; and, be really nice with the bottle return clerk at the store and politely ask them if you may pay the bottle deposits on empty returned beer bottles.

Hence, an empty bottle was taken out:

Empty beer bottle to be cleaned and delabled

The cap was unscrewed from the bottle, and kept:

Cap removed from bottle

The bottle was inspected for chips, cracks, and any other defects:

Bottle inspected for defects

A plastic bucket was partly filled with water for soaking off the labels:

Bucket filled with water for soaking labels

The bottle was placed in the bucket and filled with water …

Bottle filled with water

Once filled, the bottle was turned over (in order to properly soak the label on the neck), and the bucket was almost fully filled with water:

Bottle turned over and bucket filled with water
Bottle turned over and bucket filled with water

After a while, the label was carefully removed from the bottle:

Label removed from bottle
Label removed from bottle
Label removed from bottle
Label removed from bottle

An old vegetable scraping brush was taken out:

Brush taken out

The brush and partially delabeled bottle were brought together …

Brush used to scrape off vestiges of label from bottle

… and the vestiges of the label were removed …

Vestiges of label partly removed from bottle
Vestiges of label mostly removed from bottle

… including the glue:

Vestiges of label glue scraped off

Yet again, the jet washer was installed onto the tap in the laundry tub:

Jet washer installed

… and the bottle’s interior was rinsed with the jet washer:

Bottle interior jet washed

The bottle’s cap, which for these bottles and cap model can be reused if in good condition, was removed from the soaking water:

Cap removed from soaking water

The cap was jet washed:

Jet washing cap

The bottle and cap were placed in the dishwasher with other dishes, to be washed and sanitized before storing for bottling day:

Bottle and cap placed in dishwasher

After the dishwasher had been run, the clean bottle was taken out, ready to be stored in anticipation of bottling day:

Clean bottle ready for storage

After three weeks:

On bottling day, clean bottles were taken out to bottle the beer:

Clean bottles taken out

The dishwasher had been previously run to clean dishes, and then the clean dishes were all taken out, leaving an empty and clean dishwasher:

Clean and empty dishwasher

Large, 1.18 litre beer bottles were placed in the dishwasher:

Large bottles placed in dishwasher

Small, 341 mL beer bottles were placed in the lower rack of the dishwasher alongside the larger beer bottles …

Small beer bottles placed in dishwasher

… as well in the dishwasher’s upper rack:

Small beer bottles placed in the dishwasher’s upper rack

The dishwasher racks were rolled into the dishwashwer …

Dishwasher racks rolled into dishwasher

The dishswasher door was closed, and the dial set to start running the dishwashwer (without any soaps):

Dishwasher set to operate

At this point, with the dishwasher running, I took out another beer and glass:

Beer and glass taken out

The beer was poured into the glass:

Beer poured into glass

And the beer was enjoyed:

Beer enjoyed

Various supplies and equipment were taken out for bottling, such as more dextrose to mix into the beer (to carbonate the beer once bottled), a racking tube, a large plastic mixing spoon, a measuring cup, a cone used to hold the racking cane in place in the secondary fermentors, a measuring cup to measure out the dextrose, some bottle caps for the smaller bottles, and the bottle capper for securing the caps on the smaller bottles. Missing: Caps used for larger bottles.

Supplies for bottling the beer

The racking tube and cane were rinsed with water:

Racking tube and cane rinsed

The long plastic spoon was rinsed:

Mixing spoon rinsed

The jet washer was installed again:

Jest washer installed

The original fermentation bin was taken out:

Fermentation bin taken out

The fermentation bin was rinsed with the jet washer:

Fermentation bin rinsed with jet washer

The rinsed fermentation bin was brought over to the bar:

Rinsed fermentation bin brought to bar area

Dextrose was measured out:

Dextrose measured out

The dextrose was brought to the fermentation bin:

Dextrose brought to the fermentation bin

The dextrose was poured into the fermentation bin:

Dextrose poured into fermentation bin

The conical cane holder was placed on the racking cane:

Conical cane holder installed on racking cane

The airlock was removed from the secondary fermentor whose beer was going to be racked:

Airlock removed from secondary fermentor

The racking cane was carefully placed in the secondary fermentor whose beer was about to be racked:

Racking cane placed in secondary fermentor

I sucked a bit on the end of the tubing to start the transfer of the beer from the secondary fermentor …

Beer transferring from secondary fermentor

… which allowed for the beer to be siphoned off and transferred to the primary fermentor with the dextrose, which was on the floor of the bar:

Beer transferring to fermentation bin
Beer level in secondary fermentor becoming lower

As the beer was transferring to the fermentation bin at floor level, I stirred the beer a bit to dissolve the dextrose:

Beer stirred to dissolve dextrose

As the beer was being transferred, the level in the secondary fermentor kept on dropping:

Beer level in secondary fermentor becoming lower

Once the liquid had been fully transferred from the secondary fermentor, I transferred the racking tube to the gallon jug:

Racking tube transferred to gallon jug

… until it too was empty:

Both secondary fermentors emptied

The large secondary fermentor was jetwashed …

Secondary fermentor jetwashed

… as was the gallon jug:

Secondary fermentor jetwashed

At this point, the original fermentation bin was filled with the beer, and was thoroughly mixed again:

Fermentation bin filled with beer, and beer mixed

While the beer was still being racked, a section of the bar was cleared again …

Section of bar cleared

… the plastic cloth was placed on the floor beside the cleared section of the bar …

Plastic cloth placed on floor

… and the fermentation bin with the beer was raised up to the bar again, with the racking cane and tubing having been placed in the bucket and draping down to floor level:

Beer raised to level of bar

At this point, the dishwasher had finished operating, so the bottom rack with the large 1.18 litre and some 341 mL bottles were brought downstairs to the bottling area:

Rack of sanitized bottles brought to bottling area

Large 1.18 litre bottles were taken out of the rack and stood upright for filling:

Large bottles stood upright for filling

The racking tube was primed (flow started) and used to fill bottles one by one:

Filling beer bottles
Filling beer bottles
Filling beer bottles
Filled beer bottles

The clean caps were taken out:

Clean caps taken out
Clean caps taken out

… and the bottles were capped, and moved out of the bottling area. And here is my cat helping out with the beer bottling!

Bottles capped and cat helping
All 1.18 bottles capped

Smaller 341 mL and a single 750 mL bottles were taken out of the dishwasher rack and stood upright for bottling:

Regular beer bottles stood upright for bottling

The regular-sized beer bottles were filled with the racking tube:

Regular-sized bottles filled with beer

The filled beer bottles were moved out of the filling area as they were filled:

Regular-sized bottles filled with beer

At this point, the level of beer in the fermentation bin had gotten low, however it still contained several bottles of beer:

Beer still left in fermentation bin

Also at this point, all the bottles from the lower rack of the dishwasher had been filled with beer:

Dishwasher rack empty

The upper rack from the dishwasher was brought down to the bottling area:

Upper rack brought to bottling area

The rest of the beer was bottled, and the uncapped bottles were placed in beer cases in order to facilitate moving them over to where I capped the bottles:

Filled beer bottles placed in beer cases

At this point, I had set up my capping station, and had moved the cases of filled beer bottles there:

Bottle capping station

My beer bottle capper was taken out, along with a wooden booster to accomodate “modern” beer bottles, which are shorter than the tall bottles for which the capper seems to have been designed:

Beer bottle capper with wooden booster

Uncrimped beer bottle caps were placed on bottles one at a time …

Uncrimped beer bottle cap placed on bottle

Bottles with caps were placed in the bottle capper, starting with a tall bottle not needing the wooden booster …

Bottle placed in capper

… and the plunger was pushed down over the cap, in order to crimp it onto the bottle:

Bottle cap crimped

… producing a capped and sealed bottle of beer:

Capped and sealed bottle of beer, showing crimping around edges
Capped and sealed bottle of beer, showing the depressed top of the cap

The wooden booster was placed back on the base of the capper:

Wooden booster placed in capper

The bottles of beer were all capped:

Beer bottles capped

A permanent marker was taken out:

Permanent marker taken out

The tops of the bottles were identified, in this case with “BL” for the blonde beer, and 2023 … for the year 2023. 🙂

Bottle caps identified
Bottle caps identified

The bottles were placed back in beer cases:

Beers placed back in cases

Here are all the bottles of beer of the blonde beer:

All bottles of blonde beer

The bottling process was repeated for the brown ale:

Bottles of blonde beer and brown ale

After nine weeks:

Of course, the beer had to be taste tested, so a bottle of the blonde beer, as well as a glass, were taken out:

Blonde beer and glass taken out

The bottle was held up to the light of a window to check that it had cleared on its own:

Beer checked for clarity

The blonde beer was poured into the glass …

Beer poured into glass

… and the beer was enjoyed:

Beer enjoyed

The beer is now ready to be consumed on … well, poor weather postponed the Canada Day festivities where I live, so it will be ready when Canada Day is rescheduled!

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