7 simple tips for the beginner beer brewer

Thursday, January 24, 2019
Home brew beer brewing tips and tricks

7 handy tips for new beer brewers 

If you're sick of drinking 'dry white wine' at dinner parties and want to take the plunge and brew your first batch of home brew beer, good on you!

If you take the time to do it right, you will be rewarded with a refreshingly good beverage.

Are you with me?

A good start to your 'brewing campaign' will give you the confidence that brewing home brew is actually easy and you might continue with it as a hobby.

There's certainly a lot to learn, so if you are a first-time beer brewer, you might want to have a read of these tips and tricks.

1. That starter beer kit your wife gave you for Christmas is not enough

While the beer kit you were given for Christmas by your loving wife or partner will help you on your way to making a good homebrew beer, you can do better.

Kits that only come with a bag of sugar or dextrose alone will contribute to a beer that's weak in the sense that it will seem thin in terms of its 'mouth feel'.

Think of mouthfeel as that sense of 'full heartiness' that you get from that first mouthful of a well-deserved beer. In response to this need, the home brewer should consider adding more malt - either liquid or dry malt.

For the dry malt, a 'brew enhancer' pack is what you need.

In this writer's experience, making a homebrew beer kit without the enhancer most definitely results in a weaker feeling beer, so make sure your starter kit comes with it or at the least, head to your local brew shop and grab a packet.

It shouldn't cost more than ten bucks.

2. You'd do best to brew an ale than a lager

The truth is that the darker the beer, the more forgiving it will be in the home brewing process. It's very easy to make a brewing mistake with your first home brew so a beer style that's good to drink and is also easy to take care of is the brew you are after.

Basically, the heavier flavor of the beer will mask things such as 'off' bi-products of the fermentation process caused by things such as temperature mismanagement.

While you should feel free to start with a lager, and yes, many beer kits do come with lagers, bear in mind that lagers need to be cooled rather more quickly than an ale and they also require a bit more yeast in the fermentation process.

You can drink them sooner too!

We love brewing Nut Brown Ales for this reason!

3. In the cold cold, night

Fermentation is a process that requires just the right kind of temperatures and the right kind of times.

Different temperatures brew different kinds of beers.

A constant temperature is also very important as the yeast can react to a temperature variance in ways that are not good for tasty beer! So when doing your first brews, make sure it can be done in a warmish area and one that's going to keep that temperature.

A very rough guide is that you should aim to brew lagers between 10-14 degrees and get those ales done between 18-21 degrees.

You got that White Stripes reference right?

4. You don't need to bottle straight away, just because the fermentation bottle has stopped bubbling

If the bubbles in the airlock have stopped completely, this is not necessarily a sign that the fermentation process has completed. It's quite likely that there's still some fermentation quietly happening in the drum.

So let that play out a bit longer. It could be that you let your beer rest longer than the written instructions that came with your beer kit.

Give the yeast time to do its thing. Maybe you could add some hops.

If you are feeling brave, you could even consider cold crashing the beer just before you bottle. Basically, you just leave the drum in a fridge for a week when fermentation is complete.

Then bottle away.

5. But don't bottle too early!

Simply put, don't bottle too early.

This basically point four repeated.

If you bottle before fermentation has completed too early, you could be in for some trouble.

Did you ever see that Breaking Bad episode where Hank woke up in the night thinking he was being shot at but in reality, it was just his home brew exploding?

That's what happens if you bottle your beer too early, the primary fermentation continues, the CO2 pressure builds and then kaboom! Don't be like Hank, let your beer mellow in the fermenter just a bit longer.

Chances are it will taste better too!

6. Using a hydrometer will help you develop your home brewer's 'Sixth Sense' about how your brew is going.

A hydrometer, correctly used will help you to determine if your batch has finished fermenting. If you get the same reading twice in a row, the fermentation process has finished - but leave it just a little bit longer before you bottle.

Trust us on this one.

You can also use the hydrometer to work out the alcohol content of your beer.

7. Good things come to those who wait

Once you've managed to get your precious liquid gold into your well-sterilized bottles we can only imagine how keen you are to sample your efforts. You're going to have to wait.

The instructions in your beer kit may suggest you need to wait two or three weeks.

Believe them. Or not.

Let your beer have time to make those bubbles.

You will be rewarded with a better-tasting beer. If you can't wait, get yourself busy with a second brew and at the very least, give your equipment a good clean.

So that's plenty of things to think about. Once you've done that, get brewing!

When you've become a pro brewer, you can then start to think about ph meters and propane burners and the best conical fermenters!!

Beer image courtesy James Palinsad by way of Creative Commons licence. We have no idea if James prefers Star Trek or has even read Mortal Engines.


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