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Harris Filters

Home Beermaking

98664449_8All types of ale and beer are brewed from 4 basic ingredients.

  1. Malt
  2. Hops or alternative natural flavouring
  3. Water
  4. Beer yeast


Malt is the main ingredient that is used for making beer and of the 5 cereals (barley, wheat, oats, maize and rice) barley is mainly used because it produces the best malt and flavour. The most popular malted barley used in home beermaking is pale malt. The quantity of malt used in a brew affects the fullness, flavour and alcohol level of the beer. A beer can be improved further by adding some cereal grains. Adjuncts recommended are:




Crystal Malt

Improves colour and body

Black Malt

Promotes colour and flavour

Flaked Barley

Adds extra flavour and body


Gives fuller and rounder texture



Hops add bitterness to the beer and improve its keeping properties. Many varieties are available, but fuggles and goldings are the most popular for brewing beer, ale and stout and saaz and hallertau for lagers.


Few beer drinkers appreciate that beer is nearly all water. Even the very strongest of brews contain around 90% water. Yet have you ever wondered why certain parts of the country should have become established as important centres of the brewing industry? Why, for instance, should Burton-on-Trent be famed for it’s pale ales and bitters, whereas Dublin and London are renowned for their mild ales and stouts? The reason, quite simply, is the quality of the water locally. In brewing, water greatly influences the final flavour of the product. Hard water is generally preferred for brewing light ale and bitter, but soft water is preferred for mild ale and stout.

If you care to add chemicals to your brew, the water can be adjusted by adding  Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) to give hardness to the water or salt (sodium chloride) to soften the water and round the brews flavour. If you brew kit beers, the water quality is simply not worth fussing over, your domestic supply is good enough.


Beer yeast is available as granules in single packets or in pots.

Beer-Glass-1Yeast ferments rapidly converting the natural sugar (maltose) with any added household sugar (sucrose) to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Top fermenting beer yeasts are the most common used today as they are used in all British type beers and most of the beers of Europe. There are a variety of ale yeasts available, each having a different characteristic and imparting extra flavour to your brew. These yeasts work best at a temperature of 18-24C (65-75F).

Bottom fermenting lager yeast gives a unique taste to lager. As lager yeast is bottom fermenting, all the activity is at the bottom of the bucket and the beer may look like it is not working. These yeasts can also work at a lower temperature than general yeasts.