Have you ever tasted a great craft beer and wondered, “How was this created?” Now’s your chance to find out, by making one yourself. Sign up for our "brewsletter" to keep up with us on each step of the process.

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Have you ever tasted a great craft beer and wondered, “How was this created?” Now’s your chance to find out, by making one yourself.

We are two hobbyist homebrewers who have each been learning how to brew for more than a year, and we want to show you that it’s not so hard to get started.

Brewing timeline

What we’ll accomplish in the weeks ahead Share your beer: Let us know how your brewing project goes and share photos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #brewwithus. We'll feature your stories and photos.

We’ve created a recipe for an American pale ale — a good beer for beginners, and a great beer for the hot summer months. Maybe you’ve been brewing for years and want a refresher. Maybe it never even occurred to you to try. Either way, we’re happy to have you with us.

We’ll begin brewing on Saturday, May 30. The entire process takes at least a month — sometimes more. If all goes well, you’ll be able do a taste test on the Fourth of July.

If you haven’t already, sign up for our “brewsletter” to keep up with us on each step of the process. We’ll post the recipe and detailed instructions at the end of May, as well as videos showing how our own brewing adventure is going.

In preparation for Brew Day, it’s a good idea to get acquainted with the basics. We’ve created a primer that explains the essential ingredients and equipment every brewer needs, and outlines the life cycle of a beer from brewing to bottling.

The cost to brew

For ingredients, The Times' pale ale will cost about 80 cents to brew 12 ounces of beer. We will be brewing 5 gallons.

Get equipped

To ensure smooth sailing, you’ll also want to gather your equipment and ingredients before Brew Day rolls around on May 30. Starting equipment kits are usually priced around $100 at most homebrew stores or online. This may seem like a hefty price tag, but remember that this is a one-time startup expense — worth it if you plan to become a regular homebrewer. Consider splitting the cost of a kit between friends.

Also, if you sign up for the brewsletter by May 25, you’ll be entered to win a complete starting kit of brewing supplies, courtesy of The Times.

Below is a picture of the starter brewing kit we are using to brew the American pale ale. This is nearly everything needed to start brewing, but we had to supplement a few other items to complete the kit, which are pictured lower in this post. Download the complete shopping list to take to a homebrew store or use to purchase equipment online.

A homebrew starter kit purchased at The Cellar Homebrew, 14320 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle. (Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)
A homebrew starter kit purchased at The Cellar Homebrew, 14320 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle. (Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)

How is beer made?

Water + malt + hops + yeast. Learn what goes into beer and the processes in brewing.

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Above, from top left clockwise:

  • 6-gallon bucket with spigot and lid: Primary fermentation vessel, also used to mix beer with priming sugar before bottling.
  • 5-gallon glass carboy: Secondary fermentation vessel.
  • Malt extract: Concentrated sugars that will be converted into alcohol by yeast. Comes in liquid and powder forms.
  • Bottle caps: Pair with bottle capper (not included in this kit).
  • Priming sugar: Added to beer before bottling to carbonate it.
  • Cleaner and sanitizer: Used to sanitize brewing equipment to prevent unwanted microorgranisms from ruining your beer.
  • Hydrometer (not in all kits): Used to measure the “gravity” of beer before and after it ferments, indicating how much sugar has been converted to alcohol. Pairs with hydrometer test jar (not included in this kit).
  • Thermometer (not in all kits)
  • Airlock and rubber cap: Used to prevent oxygen from entering the fermenter while allowing CO2 to escape.
  • Specialty grains: Small amounts of grain used in extract beer recipes to impart additional characteristics to beer.
  • Yeast: In liquid or dry form. Ferments sugars in the beer into alcohol. Different strains of yeast are known to produce different characteristics in beer.
  • Hops: Whole-leaf or pellets can be used. Adds bitterness and aroma to beer.
  • Strainer or muslin bag (not in all kits): Used to steep grains or hops during the brewing process.
  • Bottle-filler attachment (not in all kits): Attaches to spigot on 6-gallon bucket and is used during bottling.
  • Plastic tubing and racking cane: Used to siphon beer between the bucket and carboy.

Additional brewing items: You will also need a few more items that don’t come in a standard brewing kit. Some you might need to purchase, such as a bottle capper, but others you might already have, such as a stock pot and thermometer.

Equipment not included with most starter homebrewing kits. (Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)
Equipment not included with most starter homebrewing kits. (Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)

Above, from top left clockwise:

  • Hydrometer test jar (optional): Holds liquid and hydrometer during gravity readings.
  • 5-gallon pot or larger (required): Used for steeping grains and boiling the wort. Stock pots work well.
  • Carboy brush (optional): Used to clean the inside of glass carboys.
  • Star-San sanitizing solution (optional): Acidic, no-rinse alternative to powdered sanitizer.
  • Bottle capper (required): Used to crimp caps onto bottles.

Where to purchase homebrewing supplies

Some homebrew stores in the Seattle area:
  • The Cellar Homebrew — 14320 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98133
  • Bob’s Homebrew Supply — 2821 N.E. 55th St., Seattle, WA 98105
  • Sound Homebrew Supply 6505 5th Pl. S., Seattle, WA 98108
  • Micro Homebrew 17511 68th Ave. N.E., Kenmore, WA 98028
  • Larry's Brewing Supply 7405 S. 212th St. #103, Kent, WA 98032
  • Mountain Homebrew and Wine Supply 8530 122nd Ave. N.E., Kirkland, WA 98033
  • List of all Wash. state homebrewing stores
Online suppliers: Download shopping list of brewing supplies needed to participate (PDF)

Buy your ingredients

To create the same beer as ours, you’ll also need to have the same ingredients. Many kits come with similar amounts of ingredients and you should be able to substitute what is needed for this recipe:

  • 6 pounds pale malt extract (liquid preferred over dry malt)
  • 1/2 pound crystal 10L malted grain (ask to mill it in a homebrewing store)
  • 1/2 pound Carapils malted grain (ask to mill it in a homebrewing store)
  • 2 ounces Perle hops (whole or pellet)
  • 2 ounces Cascade hops (whole or pellet)
  • 1 packet of American ale yeast – best options are Safale US-05, Danstar BRY-97, Wyeast 1056 American Ale, or White Labs WLP060 American Ale

That’s it! Now get thee to a supply store (online or in person) and get ready to brew with us starting May 30.