10 Things I Wish I Knew
Before I Began Homebrewing
What a pain in the butt it was to bottle my beer: I wish I had known how much work it was to clean and sanitize 48 bottles. That’s if you were one of the smart brewers and bought new non-labeled bottles. Not only were you always looking for bottles, but they had be ones you could get a cap to seal on, no twist offs. Then you add in the lovely chore of removing labels. To make things even worse, my wife quit helping me clean bottles. Then I found corny kegs and I thought I can clean 48 little containers or one bigger one. Wow, was that great! No longer cleaning bottles, no exploding bottles, no one could see the sediment in the bottom and no one mooching a bottle to take home for a friend to try - yeah right.
Brewing software: It doesn’t matter if you started with Pro
Mash, Beer Smith or any of the online brewing software. These will make building your own recipe very
easy to do and gives you great records.
Make a yeast starter: If possible, always try and make a
starter. This also helps you to plan
ahead alittle bit. Using a yeast starter will give you more than
enough yeast for your beer. You will be certain that you
have an active yeast that will let your beer start to ferment sooner lessening
the critical time your wort is sitting in limbo. Plus, when you pick up the yeast a few days
early, you will have checked your grains to help eliminate that brew-day call
to a brewing buddy and having to ask, “do you have any special B Malt”? Yes, we all do that.
Correctly and Purchase and Use A Hydrometer:
This is why we use chalk boards when listing the beers we brew and
serve. The easiest way for your brown to
become your porter is by not paying attention to how much chocolate malt you
just added. Brewing a pale but ended up
with an IPA - make sure to add the correct hops, correct amount and at the
correct times. Remember me talking about
exploding bottles? Putting the beer
while still fermenting will cause the bottle to explode.
The Easiest Way To Mess Up
Your Beer Is Through Poor Sanitation and cleaning. A good rule of thumb is
everything touching your beer pre-boil needs to be cleaned not just rinsed but cleaned and rinsed. Anything touching your beer after boil needs
to be cleaned and sanitized. Remember,
cleaners do not sanitize and sanitizers do not clean.
If you can’t make a good stout more than once in a row, there’s a good chance you won’t make a good oatmeal stout either. Before experimenting with brewing different beers, get the basic beer down. Instead of trying to brew a 200 IBU and 10% IPA, make sure you can brew a good IPA.
Have good brew friends who
can help and give advice (join a club).
Remember that phone call “hey you have any Special B Malt”. Having brew buddies over while brewing does
make the brew day so much better. They
can help lifting and offer suggestions.
Remember to let them have all the beers they want, but I like to wait
until wort is going into the fermenter before having a beer myself. Remember, the porter you wanted to be a
brown. If you’re lucky, they may also
help you clean up.
Brew on a day when you can
set aside the time with nothing else planned. Brew days don’t always go as planned. A burner won’t light, the mash water got too
hot,your pump stopped working for a few minutes you forgot to heat the sparge
water. The worst thing is maybe a stuck
mash. The boil won’t start fast enough. You get the picture - it happens to all of us
at one time or another. Just remember to
allow yourself time to brew without being rushed.
I really can save money brewing my own beer. This goes without saying. That boil kettle on the stove and plastic fermenter still makes good beer but you want more. A friend of mine says “it is like buying a bass boat to save money on fish”
All my, friends will tell you my favorite brewing statement. And that is…“we are not putting a man on the moon”. Keep it simple. All of the above are ways to make your brew day more enjoyable. You do have to pay attention to what you are doing. But just don’t over think the process, we are just making beer - hopefully good beer.