↠ 33 tips and tricks for home brewers (have a look, you don't know everything!)

tips for brewing beer

Moar tips for making good beer

Let's face it, you don't know everything but even Han Solo had room to improve so here's some brewing tips.
  1. If you're a kitchen based brewer, bottling beer over your dishwasher door; clean up is as simple as closing the door.
  2. Clean out your 'Boil in a Bag' brew bag by first shaking it out, then turning it inside out and holding it under the shower.
  3. Pour the contents of the bag into a bowl and use that to pour into boiling water. It is MUCH easier to scrape extract out of a bowl.
  4. The importance of brewing with fresh ingredients cannot be overstated. The quality of home brewed beer can only be as good as the quality of the ingredients going into the brew kettle.
  5. Be wary that if using dry malt extract, the steam from boiling water causes significant amounts of extract to cake onto the sides of the bag. If this is an issue for you, we suggest you put the DME in first before you add the water.
  6. Re-hydrate dry yeast that you've saved by pouring it into a plastic bottle of water (of the correct temperature of course), capping it, and shaking. Burp any excess gas by gently opening the bottle (as you would a bottle of soda). When it comes time to pitch the yeast, simply pour out of the bottle into your wort.
  7. Placing a packet of silica gel in your hydrometer case can help absorb any residual moisture that may be left after using it (we think this is a flight of fancy in some ways and not necessary).
  8. Use a ph Meter to test your mash.
  9. There are plenty of different kinds of hops, and for best results match the kind of beer you are brewing to the hops known to best compliment that style.
  10. Try to match your hops to well-known lager hops - Saaz hops, in particular, are associated with the brewing of lagers as well as the classic German hop, Hallertauer. We've discovered the New Zealand derived Green Bullet hop is also very handy.
  11. When making a yeast starter, place the flask inside of a plastic grocery bag, and then place it on the stir plate. Should the starter overflow, the mess is contained within the plastic bag.
  12. Don't put so much sugar in your bottles! - I've learnt this one personally the hard way. If you place too much sugar into your bottles, the yeast will go to town on it as part of the secondary fermentation and produce an excess of CO2.We love this idea. Put a book or other wedge under the back of your fermenter after sealing it up. On brewing day, gingerly slide the book/wedge to the front of the fermenter and you'll have a slanted yeast cake and a nice "deep end of the pool" in the back side of the fermenter to rack from.
  13. You can use a hydrometer to work out the alcohol content of your beer
  14. 60 carbonation drops, will be enough drops for one 23 litre brew.
  15. A few marbles, glass beads, or large SS ball bearings will reduce the risk of boil over dramatically. It works by providing nucleation points at the bottom so that large bubbles rise up and pop and less small bubbles are available to form foam. Of course, if you use foam inhibitor such as Fermcap-S, you probably don't need any other hacks! 
  16. Cool the Wort quickly -Doing this will increase the fallout of proteins and tannins that are bad for the beer.
  17. Using a spray bottle of Star San solution seems like a good hack. Doesn't waste time with dunking everything in a bucket when you can just spray it liberally and get good coverage.
  18. Put spigots in all of my fermenting buckets, so you need to use an auto syphon.
  19. When transferring out of a fermenter into a keg, fill 1 pint mason jars with the slurry, and refrigerate them so that you can use it as a yeast starter for another brew.
  20. Using sodium percarbonate is our preferred method to sanitize as it works well, no rinse is required and it's very easy to order in bulk online.
  21. You can make a 'hops tea' to ensure the hop flavours get into the beer.
  22. Buy hops in bulk to save money. Make sure you are going to use it though! You can store excess hops by keeping it frozen.
  23. Don't bottle your beer too early or you will suffer the rage of Darth Vader, cursing you out for not being patient. 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 fairly constant - 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.
  24. There are two ways you can add the sugar to your beer - you can prime the whole batch in one go by adding your liquid sugar into the fermenter or you can add sugar to each bottle individually.
  25. To get a creamy mouth feel, use more ‘unfermentables’ in your beer. In effect this is malt. The more malt you add, the 'creamier' your beer will be. This is in the sense that your beer will be more viscous, making it feel thicker in your mouth. Instead of hand cleaning your bottles and dunking them in sanitizer put them in the dishwasher bottom rack. USE NO DETERGENT, and put the dishwasher on the hottest cycle. The temperature is hot enough to kill the nasties that could infect your beer (we also add the dish washer is handy for removing bottle labels).
  26. You can add extra fermentables like DME, on top of what your recipe asks for, to increase the ABV of the beer.
  27. When we say clean we actually mean clean AND sterilized. Sterilize the heck out of everything you use. If you're starting out as a home brewer, your kit should contain a cleansing and sterilizing agent.
  28. Don't rush in like a schoolboy - leaving your beer to sit for a bit longer will allow such characteristics to fade and largely disappear - which leaves you with a great tasting and smelling lager.
  29. When bottling, you may wish to give the successfully bottles a gentle tip or two to make sure that all the sugar is in the liquid and has a chance to dissolve. This is also an opportunity to inspect for broken seals. You don't need to bottle straight away, just because the fermentation bottle has stopped bubbling - If the bubbles in the airlock appear to have finished, this is not necessarily a sign that the fermentation process has halted. It's quite likely that there's still some fermentation quietly happening in the plastic fermenter drum or carboy.
  30. Batch priming is a great way to get the sugar levels for bottle carbonation correct and to reduce the chance of beer gushers.
  31. Get the bigger kettle or pot, in the long run, you’ll save money  - for many first homebrewers the purchase is a starter equipment kit. Once they have that, all they need is a brew kettle or pot and ingredients. So they get the cheap, smaller size kettle – and then suddenly they find they want to keep going with beer making and so need to purchase the bigger kettle or brewing pot.
  32. At a pinch, you can use baking yeast to make beer. 
  33. Try the odd jelly bean as a substitute carbonation drop!

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