This is where the fun starts. While there’s nothing wrong with making kits, and a lot of people are happy to stick to kits, there’s something more satisfying with following a recipe, whether it’s your own or a ‘clone brew’. It can be tweaked to your own liking.

At the same time, because you are still using extract, there is more margin for error than in the full mash method. Because you are not adding a Kilo of sugar to boost it, you will end up with a fuller tasting beer.

Equipment needed:

As before plus:

  • Large pot.
  • Large Sieve.
  • Hydrometer Procedure

With this method, instead of buying kits you are buying ingredients. You could also enhance a kits flavour with speciality grains and/or hops.

You will need:

  • Malt Extract (LME or DME)
  • Speciality Grains
  • Hops
  • Yeast

Irish moss, isinglass or some other type of clarifying agent can be used, but is entirely optional.

The most commonly used grains for steeping are Crystal malt or Roasted barley. When you buy them, if they don’t come crushed, you have to do it yourself before you start. Weigh out the amount you need, put into a bag and pound with a rolling pin. You don’t want to make flour out of them, ideally the kernel is ground into very fine grains, without actually grinding it to flour, while at the same time the grain husk should be left as in-tact as possible.

I’m going to use a recipe for Basic Bitter to help describe the procedure.

This is a bitter I made based on the "Back to Basics Bitter" by David Weisberg on Like cooking, it’s best to have all your ingredients weighed out before you start.

  • 2 cans unhopped light LME (1.6Kg each),
  • 8oz crystal malt (crushed),
  • 1.5oz Goldings hops,
  • 2.5oz Fuggles hops,
  • Irish moss,
  • Ale yeast.

In a big pot, add 10 pints (or as much as you can) water and crushed crystal malt. Turn on heat. Before water comes to boil scoop out grains with sieve. Alternatively, bring your water to 70oC or so, add in the grains, and steep for 20 minutes. Scoop out the grains and bring water to the boil. Add 2 cans LME. Stir to dissolve. Bring to rolling boil, and boil for 1 hour with the following hop additions: (counting down from 60 minutes)

  • 60min: add 1oz Goldings, 0.5oz Fuggles
  • 30min: add 0.5oz Goldings, 1oz Fuggles
  • 15min: add 1 spoon irish moss
  • 5 min: add 0.50z Fuggles

Pour through strainer to fermenting bin, to catch hops.Add cold water to 19Litres (5 U.S. Gallons). Take hydrometer reading. This will give your original gravity (OG). Pitch Yeast Ferment as above. When transferring to secondary, dry hop with 0.5oz Fuggles (sprinkle the hop leaves onto the beer). Take another hydrometer reading. This will give your final gravity (FG)Bottle/Barrel with sugar.

That’s the basic method for brewing with extract/steeping grains. Different beers will have different speciality grains, hops etc. There is a world of recipes available either on the net, or in books. It's sometimes good to use these as a guide to a style, but it is also good to be a little creative yourself.

Notes on ingredients:


Hops can be bought as cones or pellets. In Ireland, it’s usually cones. They come in a vacuum pack, and can be frozen to keep fresh. There are usually (but not necessarily) three hop additions:

Bittering hops. Added at start of boil

Flavouring hops. Added with about 20 minutes to go.

Aroma hops. Added in the last 2-5 minutes


Speciality grains should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Crush the grains as needed.


LME usually has a best before date, but can be ok beyond this.

DME should be stored in an airtight container.


Dry yeast should ideally be re-hydrated before you use it. Stir into a cup of warm water with a pinch of sugar an hour before you need it.

Liquid yeast packets are also available, but are expensive.

Most important question: how strong is my beer?

This is the reason for taking specific gravity (SG) readings (OG & FG). Taking hydrometer readings will also let you know when fermentation is complete. As a rule of thumb, the same reading two days in a row means your fermentation is complete.

The % abv of your beer is worked out with the following formula (or a variation of this formula):

%abv = (OG-FG)*133

e.g. if your OG was 1.044, and your FG was 1.008, then

%abv = (1.044-1.008)*133 = 4.8%abv

Happy Brewing.