There are a long list of things that took me too long to do because I couldn’t figure out how to do them. Things that weren’t difficult but took time because I didn’t know what steps to take. My best example is buying stock. It took me months to figure out how to do something that is SO simple (go to Etrade). For that reason, I thought it might be helpful to post some brew tips for anyone who would like to make a home brew. For tips I turned to my resident expert, Danny isn’t a professional but he has experience and some success under his belt.
What to Read: The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian. The book may seem outdated at first but beer has been brewed for thousands of years! This book is a great resource for the beginning homebrewer, as well as a good reference for someone more advanced. If you get one book, this is it.
Who to Talk To: Find a local liquor store that sells homebrew supplies or any homebrew supply store in general. Chances are they also employ homebrewers who are more than willing to share their secrets and love of the craft. For my first batch, I was given expert advice that led to a fine creation on the first try!
Equipment to Get: Start out with a basic homebrew kit. This usually consists of: bottling bucket, glass carboy, set of bottles with caps, sanitizer, plastic tubing and racking cane, bottle capper, and a hydrometer. Other important items to consider are a very large stock pot for boiling wort and later on a wort chiller.
Time Needed: The process can be broken up into three distinct phases: brewing, transfer, and bottling. Some may opt out of the transferring, but it is highly recommended to clarify the beer and improve taste. The brewing process can take several hours, but that includes buying the necessary ingredients, boiling the wort for an hour, and making sure the liquid has cooled before pitching yeast. The fermentation process takes about 2-3 weeks but often longer. The transfer step usually takes less than an hour if you have good equipment. Bottling takes roughly an hour or so as well, depending on the preparation done beforehand. Your homebrew can then be enjoyed after about a week or two.
Costs: A good starting kit will cost about $200, but this will last a lifetime. Occasionally, plastic tubing and other minor accessories will need to be replaced, but these are $5 purchases. The ingredients generally cost $20 – $40 per batch, depending on the complexity of the beer. Each batch should yield about 45-50 bottles of delicious homebrew.
Rookie Mistakes: Sanitize everything! While an infected beer won’t make you ill, it will make your beer taste funky and unpleasant. There’s no sense in spending money and time on a batch of beer, only to have it turn out badly in the end when you can spend a few minutes cleaning your equipment. A great sanitizing product is Star San. This product sanitizes equipment, preventing infection and nasty tasting beer. The best part is that it is rinse-free. You simply wash your equipment and start brewing. It is completely odorless and tasteless, but does contain acid. It should be used sparingly with metal and rubber surfaces.