Friday, March 26, 2010

Starting to brew - some tips

Every so often someone asks me how they can get started brewing.  It's a great question, and since everyone who brews is a new brewer once everyone has a story.  Here are my suggestions on what to do if you want to start brewing:
  •  Watch a video on homebrewing to see if it looks like something you want to do. Here's a good example:
  • Try brewing with someone else.  If you don't know a brewer, look for a club in your area (see on the Homebrewers Association website, or google Homebrew clubs in your area.  Or ask at a local homebrew shop if you have one.  When you contact a club, just tell them you want to learn how to brew and you are experimenting. Brewers are friendly people and I'm sure they will hook you up with someone who is brewing quickly!
  • Read a book about brewing.  From my experience, John Palmer's How to Brew is the best one going. He has lots of detailed tutorial information for your first batch, and a really useful amount of information on the science of brewing that you will be interested in later.  I still refer to this book for information on a regular basis.
  • Get a kit for your first batch--but make sure it is fresh! Note that there are both equipment kits and recipe kits--you will need both unless they are selling a combo for beginners.  Kits are usually graded for level of difficulty, so make sure you pick one that is "beginner" for your fist batch.  There are some good options online at Beer, Beer, and More Beer, Northern Brewer, or William's Brewing--or go to your local home brew shop.    Fresh ingredients are key, don't let them sell you the dusty old kit that's been on the shelf for months--get one that is new and has fresh ingredients or don't buy anything!
I would be remiss if I didn't mention sanitation.  One of the worst things that can happen to your beer is an "infection".  You can prevent this by (a) cleaning thoroughly using something like PBW or B-Brite; and (b) sanitizing everything the beer touches post boil with Iodaphor or StarSan.  Why do I say "post boil"?  Well, the boil sanitizes everything in it.  After the boil, however, you will be putting the chilled wort into a fermenter using a racking cane, tubing, etc., all of which need to be germ free or you risk infection.   A little extra effort will protect your beer!

In the end, brewing is supposed to be fun, so don't take it too seriously, especially the first time out.  As Charlie Papazian says "Relax, have a homebrew!"  You are making beer, after all, not doing brain surgery.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

No comments:

Post a Comment