Director, American Homebrewers Association
If you’ve ever wanted to experiment with brewing your own beer at home, take a look at these six helpful tips to prevent disaster and have fun.
1. Start simple
For first-time homebrewers, I highly recommend starting out with a simple extract kit and brew a straight-forward beer style, like an American pale ale or a brown ale. Resist the urge to make a monster Russian Imperial Stout or a Belgian-style sour with mangos until you’ve got a few batches under your belt.
2. Read books
While there’s a ton of info out there on the internet, including some excellent tutorials on the American Homebrewers Association’s (AHA), I’m still a big advocate for the printed word for homebrewer guidance. I highly recommend Charlie Papazian’s Complete Joy of Homebrewing for homebrew newbies, as no other book makes brewing seem so easy. John Palmer’s How to Brew is a must-have for every homebrewer’s library. Quite simply, How to Brew is the most comprehensive homebrew guide out there.
3. Clean & sanitize your equipment
All equipment that touches your beer post-boil must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized to ensure you end up with great tasting beer. This isn’t hard, but it is totally necessary. While you can use household blead to sanitize, I recommend using a no-rinse sanitizer like iodophor or Star San, because they are fast acting and easy.
4. Use Ferm Cap
Every single homebrewer out there has experienced a boil-over at some point. I wish someone had let me know about Ferm Cap earlier in my homebrewing. Add a couple of drops of Ferm Cap to your boil and the chances of a boil-over go to nearly zero.
5. Properly manage fermentation
Pitch the proper amount of healthy yeast for the recipe you are making (there are numerous online calculators to help with this) and if possible, keep your fermentation temperature in the optimal range for the yeast you are using. Doing these two things will do more to improve your brewing than anything else.
6. Be creative
Today, the United States is the envy of the beer world, with more variety of beers made here than anywhere else. The reason for this is a vibrant homebrewing community that continues to experiment, creating new beer flavors and styles. That creativity is part of the reason why homebrewing is so much fun. If it’s not fun, you aren’t doing it right!