If you love beer, and want to brew your own on the road while RVing, you can! But with limited kitchen space inside your RV, you’ll have to get creative when it comes to the brewing process and also where you keep your supplies when they’re not in use. Below are the basic steps for home brewing beer with a few suggestions and tips for home brewing on the road.
Let’s start with the materials needed:
Stove (or use an outdoor propane stove if you’re brewing outside at your campsite)
1.5-5 gallon boiling pot
Unscented dish cleaner
Sanitizer in a spray bottle
Plastic fermenting bucket or jug with top (5 gallon)—do not use a glass fermenter while camping
Racking cane or auto siphon
Bottling bucket with spigot
Malt extract (hopped liquid malt extract, unhopped liquid malt extract, or unhopped dry malt extract)
Hops (whole, pellet, or hop plugs)
Yeast (liquid or dry, ale yeast, lager yeast, etc.)
Water (from your potable water hose)
Priming sugar (dextrose, turbinado sugar, or honey)
Let’s Get Started!
- Before hitting the road toward your destination, clean all of your brewing equipment with the unscented cleaner in your home kitchen. Or, if you’re camping for an extended period and are already at your campsite, head outside where there is more room to clean all of your equipment. Just be sure that once you clean your equipment, it stays clean and doesn’t collect dust, pollen, dirt, etc. from the campground. Some of the equipment you won’t use for a few weeks (until after the fermentation process), so store it in sealed plastic bags or bins that will keep it clean.
- On your outdoor propane stove, bring 1 gallon of water to a boil in the boiling pot.
- Once you reach a boil, remove the pot from the heat and add the malt extract. Stir until it’s completely dissolved, being careful that it doesn’t pool at the bottom of the pot.
- Once you notice that the extract has dissolved, return it to the heat and bring it to a boil again.
- When it reaches a rolling boil, add the bittering hops. You are creating the wort (the unfermented liquid that will become your beer).
- After about 30 minutes, fill your plastic fermenter half way with cold water. You can use water right out of your potable water hose at your campsite.
- After your wort has sat for about 5 minutes, add it to the cold water. Then fill the bucket with water so that it contains 5 gallons of liquid. Let the wort lower in temperature to about 70-75 degrees F.
- Once the wort has dropped to the desired temperature, sanitize the yeast package and add it to the mixture.
- Place the top on the fermenter and seal it using the airlock. Fill the airlock with a no-rinse sanitizer or high-proof alcohol to seal it.
- Give it a hefty shake for a few minutes so that oxygen gets mixed in with the yeast.
- Now the yeast needs to do its thing for 1-2 weeks, meaning it has to ferment. It turns the fermentable sugars from the extract into CO2 and alcohol. You need to help it by finding an agreeable place in your RV for this fermentation process to happen. Choose somewhere inside your RV that is dark and at the desired temperature for the recipe you’ve chosen, typically between 65-75 degrees F. It should also remain as still as possible, so if you plan to hitch up your RV and head to a new location or drive your motorhome around, look around for the most stable spot within your rig where the liquid will not splash around much when moving. If you do plan to travel around, it may be a good idea to secure your fermenter between stable objects so that it won’t be allowed to tip or slide around. Or consider storing it in your tow vehicle where you can keep an eye on it while traveling.
- During these 1-2 weeks, you can check for signs of fermentation. Within 1-3 days, you should notice a bubbling in the airlock that is caused by the CO2 gases. Also, a frothy foam will form, known as a kraeusen, on top of the wort. If the bubbles cease or slow down, it’s not necessarily done fermenting.
- The whole process of fermentation takes about 3-4 weeks, so sit tight and enjoy some store-bought beer around the campfire until the time is ready.
- After the month of fermentation has passed, you need to get out your outdoor propane stove again for a process that adds sugar to the beer. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil on your propane stove. Add 5 ounces of priming sugar to the boiling water and boil it for 10 minutes. If you’re brewing less than 5 gallons of beer since you’re working in the limited space of an RV, use less priming sugar. Typically, use 1 ounce for every gallon of beer you’re brewing.
- Clean and sanitize your bottling bucket.
- After the 10 minutes of boiling, remove it from the heat and pour it into your bottling bucket.
- Using an auto siphon or racking cane, transfer the beer from the fermenter into the bottling bucket. Place the fermenter higher than the bottling bucket. Consider using your picnic table at your campsite for the fermenter and placing the bottling bucket on the bench. Or if you’re inside your RV, set the fermenter on the kitchen counter and the bottling bucket on a stool or chair, or use the dinette table and bench. If you notice solids at the bottom of your fermenter, do not transfer them to the bottling bucket.
- Using a piece of sanitized tubing, attach the sanitized bottle filler to the spigot of your bucket.
- Begin filling your clean beer bottles about one inch from the top with your home-brewed beer!
- Use your bottle capper to attach the sanitized caps.
- After all your hard work, make sure you store your home-brewed beer in a room-temperature environment, around 70 degrees F.
- Wait about 2-3 weeks until you crack one open as it takes this long for the carbonation process to happen.
The main obstacles to home brewing beer in an RV are limited space and temperature control. By utilizing outdoor space at your campsite, you’ll have a lot more room to maneuver around while boiling water, adding ingredients, transferring liquids, sanitizing materials, etc. Just make sure your outdoor brewing station isn’t in a location where you will end up with pollen, dust, leaves, bugs, and other scraps of nature in your concoction. Extend your awning and set up your beer lab underneath it for shelter from trees and the elements. To maintain a constant room temperature for your beer to properly ferment and reach optimal carbonation, use your RV’s A/C unit to achieve this. Due to fluctuating outdoor temperatures (especially if you’re on the move while brewing), it’s best to count on an A/C unit to keep your beer at the right temperature instead of relying on Mother Nature to hold the outdoor temps steady so you can craft the perfect beer. Or, if your RV doesn't have an A/C unit, make your own with this DIY A/C unit that you can set next to your beer in a tight, secured area of the RV.
While brewing on the road has its challenges, it’s definitely doable! And how sweet it will be when you finally get to kick back around a roaring campfire and enjoy the fruits of your labor! Cheers to you!
Do you home brew in your RV? If so, what are some of your RV brewing tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments!