Step 1: Identify all your ingredients. In other words, make sure you have everything that the recipe calls for. You can keep certain items in the fridge until they're needed, like the hops and yeast, but be sure they're there. If you are using an ingredient kit, check to see if there are any additional ingredients required that are not included in the kit.
Step 2: Fill the brew pot (kettle) with approximately 2 gallons of water (usually the purest spring water is the best to use). Begin to heat the kettle on the stove.
Step 3: If your recipe uses specialty grains, stop the warming of the water around 160 degrees F. Using a disposable mesh or reusable nylon bag, steep your grains in this warm water for around 20-30 minutes. If you are using very dark grains, you may want to use cooler water and/or steep for a shorter period of time to reduce the amount of astringency added to the beer. You will notice a coloring of the water at this point.
Step 4: Add measured extract (according to your recipe), and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil.
Step 5: Look closely at the hop additions in your recipe. Add the first addition (typically your bittering hops). Be sure to start a timer so that the hops are in the boiling wort for only the amount of time that they should be (i.e. 60 minute hops should be boiling for only 60 minutes).
Step 6: Watch the clock and add your subsequent hop additions (typically flavoring and aroma) at the appropriate time intervals according to your recipe.
Step 7: With five minutes left in the brewing process, add any clarification agents you may have (Irish moss, finings or Whirlfloc).
Step 8: Once your soon-to-be beer has reached the end of the brewing schedule, it must becooled down to yeast addition temperature (room temperature) as quickly as possible. The addition of equal parts or more of cold water (perhaps sterilized by boiling from the previous day) will bring the wort to a much cooler temperature very quickly. If the temperature is still over 80 degrees F, you can place the kettle in a large bucket or bathtub with cold water. If none of this is possible, simply wait until the extract mixture has reached room temperature.
Step 9: Transfer the cooled, boiled extract mixture to a fermentation bucket. You can just dump it in - at this point you want as much oxygen exposure as possible. Add the yeast and stir like crazy (with a sanitized spoon) to incorporate as much ambient oxygen as possible.
Step 10: Place the air-tight lid on the bucket, insert the water lock and place in a safe, cool location.
You have just brewed a beer! More to come on how to handle the fermentation over the next several weeks, and how to bottle the finished product.
Jeffrey Michael, known as The Biking Brewer, is Certified with the Beer Judge Certification Program, having judged over twenty homebrew competitions over the past ten years. Also a trained sommelier and student of the French Culinary Institute, he frequently travels to uncommon parts of the globe in search of new fermented beverages. He tweets at @TheBikingBrewer and posts at www.facebook/TheBikingBrewer.