Home Beer Making Tips for a Great Brew

Home brewing beer is a hobby that takes time, patience, and a willingness to experiment in order to find the best methods, equipment, and recipes. It is not uncommon for your first few attempts to turn out more like pond scum than ale. As a novice, your first attempts at brewing may best be enjoyed by your garden plants than your friends or family. However, there are tips and tricks to help even the most experienced home brewer inch closer to perfection in terms of batch results. Home beer making tips for a great brew abound, if you know where to look and to whom you should listen.

As with any hobby, every enthusiast is their own expert and has their own way of doing things. Schools of thought on the best methods, recipes, and equipment aside, there are some tips which are universal to all home brews. Keep these tips in mind and you will be producing far less pond scum to feed your plants. Instead, you will find yourself brewing better batches that will have you wondering why you didn’t start brewing your own beer sooner.

1. Mind your ingredients. Fresh ingredients always produce better batches. Higher quality likewise produces better results. Freshness and quality applies to yeast, hops, malts, and grains. Everything you use to brew your favorite ale has a shelf life. If you push your ingredients past that shelf life or use inferior ingredients, your brew will suffer. Watch out for oxidation of ingredients like malt (dry or liquid) and dry grains.

2. Find a good supplier. Where you buy your supplies is not as important as the consistency of the quality, the availability of ingredients, and the cost. Some areas to look include the internet, local home brewing clubs, if you do not have a local supplier nearby. If you are lucky enough to have a brewing club in your area, they may be able to offer discounts with local or preferred suppliers.

3. Keep your equipment clean and sanitary. Proper cleaning of your equipment is essential for good results. Bleach and other chemicals can sanitize your equipment between brews. Just keep in mind that when you use soap or other detergents, you must rinse the equipment thoroughly. Soap residue left behind will affect the head retention of your finished brew.

4. Glass or stainless steel carboys are better than plastic. You can find food grade plastic carboys, but plastic is still porous. To ensure the perfect oxygen barrier, use glass or stainless steel. Glass and stainless are also easier to sanitize.

5. Yeast starters make life easier. Not only will starting your yeast ahead of time result in a faster start, it also cuts down on the risk of bacterial infections. There are several methods for yeast starters, depending on your equipment. You will need boiled water and yeast, as well as either sugar or liquid malt extract, depending on your recipe. You will also need some sort of airlock or fermentation lock to seal the mixture while it ferments.

6. Match your water to your brew. Certain types of ale call for hard water while others call for softer water. For example, hard water is better for pale ales while soft water is better for Pilsners. Take note of the type of beer you plan to brew and whether hard or soft water produces better results. Adding epsom salt can make water harder, whereas bottled water is better for soft water recommendations.

Perfecting your favorite brew takes time and experimentation. Follow these home beer making tips for a great brew and you will see a wealth of improvement as soon as your next batch. Your skills, methods, recipes and equipment should, however, continue to evolve over time to match your experience and investment. Naturally, the more you research and seek out helpful tips and advice from experienced brewers, the better your results.