Before you take on the challenge of making craft beers at home, you should get as much information as you can. The internet is filled with various tips and ideas on how to make beer. But to help you get started quickly, we have compiled this concise list of expert tips that will help you to avoid many beginner pitfalls and achieve fairly good results from your initial attempt at brewing your own beer.
Editors Note: This is a guest post from Tony Bod. Tony is a passionate blogger, freelance writer and a regular contributor to several blogs. He loves reading news and sharing unique articles through his contents. When Tony is not working, he enjoys music, camping and spending time with his family.
1. Do Adequate Research
Do your homework before you begin the craft beer making hobby. From the onset, you should be aware that brewing good beer is partly an art and a science. To learn the science of brewing, you should read top brewing books, consult with accomplished craft brewers and use some of the great brewing resources online including discussion forums, brewing blogs, and software. Thereafter, you can master the art of brewing by focusing on creating one specific kind of beer with a distinct flavour and tweaking the recipe and ingredients till you achieve perfection.
2. Maintain Exceptional Sanitation
Pay great attention to sanitation and sterilisation throughout the brewing process. You won’t want to discover a bug, bacteria or dirt in the beer you’ve spent several days brewing. Sanitation and sterilisation starts before you begin the brewing process and continues until you finally cap the bottles. The most critical stage for sterilisation is immediately after you cool the wort. Since the yeast has not started fermenting, contamination from bacteria is more likely at this stage.
3. Work With Fresh Top-Quality Ingredients
You can only get a great home brew from fresh, high quality ingredients. For instance, liquid yeast will help you produce better beer than dry yeast. During extract brewing, it is better to use a fresh extract instead of one that has been packaged for several years. To keep your beer ingredients fresh, store your liquid yeast in your refrigerator and your hops in the freezer. Bear in mind that crushed grains, liquid malt, yeast, dry malt and hops must be used early because of oxidation and short shelf life.
4. Boil Your Wort for At Least One Hour
You should boil the wort in a single batch for between 60 and 90 minutes. It will cause tannins and proteins to coagulate from grains, make the hops release bitter oils, vaporise several unwanted compounds, and sterilise the wort before cooling. If you are not making a dark beer, you should boil the wort for close to 90 minutes.
5. Cool The Wort Rapidly
One way to minimise the occurrence of contamination in your beer is to chill the wort as rapidly as you can. Thus, you will quickly reduce the temperature of the wort from the range that bacteria enjoys. Initially, you may follow the common practice of submerging your brewing kettle in ice in a bath tub. But this could take as long as 40 minutes depending on the quantity of ice in the bath. That is why it is advisable to emulate the top microbreweries and invest in a wort chiller that can cool about 5 gallons of beer within 20 minutes.
6. Try Brewing Dark Beers First
No matter what your best type of beer is, you should start by making dark beers like stouts and dark ales. For example, a significant number of the best Australian craft beers are dark ales. These dark beers will allow you to cover up a lot of your initial mistakes because of their rich flavour profile. It is important to strive to achieve success early so that you won’t get discouraged and give up on your new hobby. Usually, your first few attempts at making dark ales will not be a total flop, so you will be motivated to keep trying till you achieve perfection.
7. Work With a Glass Fermenter
Many popular home brewing kits come with plastic fermenters because the manufacturers want to sell relatively cheap kits quickly. However, you should switch to a glass fermenter as soon as you can. Glass fermenters are easier to clean. They are not porous like plastic, so they offer a better shield against oxidation during fermentation.
8. Regulate the Temperature During Fermentation
To brew craft beers successfully, you need to be able to monitor and regulate the fermentation temperature. One of the best methods of doing this is to select a cool and dry part of your home, wrap wet towels around the fermenter and put a standing fan before it. Every 12 hours, soak the towels in cold water to keep them wet and re-wrap them round the fermenter. You can attach a stick-on thermometer to the fermenter to monitor its temperature.
9. Purchase Brewing Tools for the Long Term
Your first attempts at making craft beers at home may be done with a home brewing kit. But subsequently, you should make sure you buy your brewing tools with long term expansion in mind. For instance, if you start with a 3-gallon pot, and you feel you should buy a bigger one, go for a 9-gallon pot instead of a 5-gallon pot. You will also save a lot of money by investing early in a good chiller, a large pot, and a glass fermentation vessel.
10. Keep Good Brewing Records
Maintain a good brew log for every brewing session whether it is a simple or complex recipe. Write down the recipe, ingredients and outcome. This will enable you to quickly modify a recipe till you achieve perfection. You can refer to your records at any time and check what you did. Preferably, you should assign a code to each beer you make and use a permanent marker to write it on the cap. Then in your brew log, you can write the code and give a brief description of the beer.
Finally, you need to be specific and be able to focus on what you want early. Before you start, spend some time deciding on how you want your beer to look and taste. You may also pre-determine its colour and alcohol content. If you apply the tips given above, you will soon join the league of the great microbreweries who brew unique craft beers with exceptional flavour.
Thanks to Tony Bod for providing this guest post. Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. You can grab a trial version of BeerSmith from BeerSmith.com. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing.
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