Top 7 Tips For Aspiring Home Brewers

Home brewing was legalized in the United States in 1979, and since then it has taken off in popularity.  Surely at least one person you know has dreams of starting up the next Sam Adams in their basement, and amateur brewer contests attract hundreds — in some cases thousands — of entrants.

So you want to try your hand at creating your own little microbrewery?  Even without commercial success, the fruits of your labor can be quite gratifying, sharing your own creations with your friends.  If you are pondering your own home brewing set-up, here are 7 tips which you would be wise to follow.

Lower Your Expectations

Do not expect your first creations to rival store-bought microbrews.  As with everything in life, practice makes perfect.  Your first few efforts may very well be disappointing.  Just be prepared to learn from your mistakes.  If producing a world class brew was that easy, then taking up this hobby wouldn’t be so interesting and challenging — would it?  Even though a lot of work might have gone into it, prepare for the possibility of having to spit out your first batch with a grimace on your face.

Keep It Clean

Malt sugars abound within unfermented beer which makes it a virtual playground for all sorts of nasty bacteria.  If left unchecked in unsanitary conditions, this will translate to unpalatable swill — or much worse — a drinkable beer that ends up making everyone who consumes it violently ill.  Keeping your equipment clean is of paramount concern within this arena.  Sterilization is a bit of overkill for a home brewing operation, so clean your equipment with a solution consisting of one ounce of bleach for each gallon of water.

Go Dark

Using dark grains within your first few batches can serve to cover up any rookie brewing mistakes.  Attempting a pale ale as your first brew has you akin to being naked — any imperfection will be there for all to see.  Conversely, a dark ale is more forgiving, and its appearance can remain professional even during initial amateur efforts.  Using an increased amount of hops can also help to overcome mistakes made during your initial foray into home brewing.

Allocate the Space

Many aspiring home brewers fail to appreciate how much space the process can take up.  Granted, you don’t need your own industrial sized  Budweiser plant, however, the equipment will take up a fair amount of space when being used.  When not being used, most equipment geared for beginners can easily be stacked and stored in a garage or closet.  In addition to the space needed for the equipment during the brewing process, be sure you have someplace to store a large number of cases of beer while it ages.

Don’t Spend A Fortune

Some kits and guides within this space are serious rip-offs.  When first starting off, there is no reason to spend more than $100 for your initial set of equipment.  At this price point, there are many reputable set-ups (such as this one by Coopers Brewery).  In terms of ingredients, each batch should run you no more than $50 — if you’re paying more, then you are most likely being ripped off.  At these expense levels you cost per bottle rate will quickly get under $1, which serves to make this a money-saving hobby for many — especially case-a-weekend beer drinkers.

Seek Advice

Make contacts within the home brewing community — ideally with brewers who have advanced experience as opposed to yourself.  Set aside several bottles from your first few batches and send them to more accomplished home brewers — they’ll be able to give you helpful advice and insights just from tasting your product.  You might sense something is off with the taste of the beers coming out of your first efforts, but you won’t know which tweaks are necessary within your process to correct it.  A more experienced brewer will be able to help you figure out where you went wrong.

Keeping The Wife/Girlfriend Happy

Wives and girlfriends have been known to dislike this hobby, so there are proactive steps you can take in order to ensure she accepts and tolerates your new home brewing fixation. Most equipment can also produce wine — something that most likely will hold more appeal for her.  You can alternate batches between beer and wine, and you can additionally get her involved in label design for your beer bottles which she’ll surely enjoy.

Following all of the above advice can make your entry into the microbrewery world far less stressful and more enjoyable.  Maybe you’ll develop a real talent and become the next Sierra Nevada — probably not, but at least it’s a hobby which can save you a few bucks and ensure a good beer is always at hand.

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1 Comment

  1. Gino Bauerle says:

    Homebrewing is the brewing of beer, wine, sake, mead, cider, perry and other beverages through fermentation on a small scale as a hobby for personal consumption, free distribution at social gatherings, amateur brewing competitions or other non-commercial reasons. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages can be made at home.’:,,

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