Hey guys! I’m spending the day homebrewing with my bro so I invited Blake Daniels, an avid homebrewer, to do a write-up on his insight and experience. Have a great Friday and follow me on Twitter for brew day updates!
Take it away, Blake!
4 Mistakes New Homebrewers Should Avoid
Who isn’t brewing these days? It seems like every time I turn around, another friend has picked up (or unwrapped) a shiny new starter kit.Their interest and enthusiasm is a beautiful thing. The first beer they brew probably won’t be – but that’s to be expected! I’ve met quite a few accomplished homebrewers in my day and not a single one of them has accrued their mass of awards with raw talent alone.
It’s no secret that the more you brew, the better you get. When something goes right, you figure out why. When something goes wrong, you know what needs to be improved for the next batch. You realize when to follow instructions and when to disregard them. You gain the confidence to try new things. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail, but you always learn.
Unfortunately, when it comes to brewing, that learning curve can cost a lot in lost time, money, and beer. That being said, the more we can learn from the mistakes of the brewers who have come before us, the better off we’ll be.
If you’re just getting started, make sure to read the rest of this post carefully – unless you’d rather learn on brew day, the hard way.
Mistake 1: Not Doing Your Homework
If there’s one thing I’m adamant about when giving a new brewer advice, it’s this: buy yourself a copy of John Palmer’sHow to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time and don’t brew until you’ve read it. All of it.
Sure, there are plenty of free downloads out there but trust me; not reading the real thing will cost you. Don’t think of it as another paperback to add to your library, think of it as an essential guidebook that’s been specially crafted to help new brewers develop a comprehensive understanding of brewing ingredients, beer styles, recipes, and processes.
Mistake 2: Not Taking Sanitation Seriously
If you don’t like cleaning, homebrewing may not be the best recreational activity for you. In fact, my experience has taught me that the two most crucial parts to brewing a good beer are sanitation, and strictly controlled temperature. The temperature rule comes with a little bit of wiggle room but the sanitation thing – not so much.
Star San and a healthy amount of elbow grease are your friends, contamination and infection are not.
On brew days, I personally prefer to keep a bottle of sanitizer handy and spray everything before it’s used – and when I say everything, I mean everything – including the thermometer, hydrometer, and even my hands. When it comes to something as important as beer, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Mistake 3: Going Too Big – Too Soon
I’m talking about batches here, and it’s always wise to start small. A lot of brewers want to dive right into making five gallon batches but there’s much to be said for brewing one gallon at a time. If you pick up a one-gallon starter kit, there’s more room for experimenting and consequently more room for errors. Having something go wrong with a one gallon batch is approximately five times less devastating than having that same issue with a five gallon batch. Once you master a one gallon recipe, go ahead and go big – but in the meantime, know that there’s absolutely no shame in making less.
Mistake 4: Not Focusing on the Task at Hand
Brewing buddies are nice to have and while it’s incredibly tempting to drink beer with them while you work, it’s not entirely advisable. Opening one or two bottles isn’t the end of the world but I’ve heard too many sad stories about homebrewers who have ruined their own beer by being too focused on someone else’s.
Now, don’t let these warnings scare you. Homebrewing is an incredibly fun, incredibly rewarding hobby. It’s also one of the friendliest! Join a homebrewing organization, read more blogs, connect with other brewers online, and make sure to ask questions. There are countless home and professional brewers out there who were once in your shoes. When it’s done in the name of beer, people love to share!
Happy brewing and welcome to the club.
Blake Daniels is a stay at home(brewing) dad with a passion for the simple things in life. On any given day, you’d most likely find him wrestling with his boys, cooking a gourmet meal for his wife or brewing a batch of beer in the garage.
One Response to 4 Mistakes New Homebrewers Should Avoid
VERY true on all points. In one of the homebrew clubs I was in previously, we had members that ran the gamut between totally carefree (about planning, sanitization, you name it).
We also had folks who were absolutely rigid in their process and procedures. I’ll bet you can guess which group made more consistently “good” beers! If nothing else, the steps you outline are great “insurance” that you aren’t going to have a bad batch due to process. Good job.