With a multitude of commercial beer brands available in the market, it would seem like brewing your beer at home is a waste of time, but once you give it a try, you may just realize how much more fun it is than your frequent bar hopping.
When you make homebrew, don’t be pressured to produce a highly unique brew, or one that will blow the mind of your pals. Being an amateur, it’s safer to stick to the tried and true styles before exploring new flavors. Besides, there are already over 6,000 breweries in the U.S. alone, so chances are you’re just brewing the same beer as many of them. The key is just to make it as good as theirs.
That said, here are the secrets to brewing beer like a pro.
1. Invest in the Right Equipment
A starter brewing kit is available in home brewing supplies shops, but if you want better results, invest in an all-grain kit. It is a replica of a micro-brewery, and it can fit right under your kitchen sink, so you don’t have to worry about space. It lasts a lifetime, too, so it’s truly a value for money purchase.
2. Use Quality and Fresh Ingredients
You must have the four main ingredients of beer: water, yeast, hop, and grains. There are two types of beer yeasts, namely ale yeast and lager yeast. What you need depends on the style you want to brew, but there aren’t any dramatic differences between the two. Ales are top-fermenting yeasts that run on higher temperatures (around 55-77°F), while lagers are bottom-fermenting yeasts held at lower temperatures (around 40-52°F). Simply remember that the more yeast there is at work, the greater they perform in producing alcohol.
For your hops, store them in the fridge and use them up quickly if you’re buying fresh. Opt for the top hops in the Brewer’s Association’s annual Hop Survey, which includes rich German Hallertau hops, Cascade, and Centennial, to name a few.
Beer grains are usually malted barley, but feel free to use other grains, too, such as unmalted barley, corn, or oats. Unmalted barley imparts a grainy quality to a beer, which is a key characteristic of dry stout. Corn adds a neutral sweetness and stabilizes the flavor, and oats smooth out the beverage’s texture like satin.
3. Master Tried and True Brews
It may be tempting to try making your own one-of-a-kind brew right away, but always start with tried and true brews first until you master them. You can’t perfect your own unique brew without learning from the well-loved ones, so resist your ambitions for a time.
4. Sanitize Your Equipment
Before starting the bottling process, sanitize all your equipment first, namely the bucket, siphon, bottling wand, and bottles. 90% of the brewing process is sanitizing, so just imagine what your final product will be like if you skip this step. Don’t use bleach-based sanitizers as those can affect the flavor of your beer. Stick to the sanitizer kits sold at home brewing supplies shops.
5. Join a Homebrew Club
Once you already got the hang of homebrewing, join a homebrew club to expand your learning and discover new techniques. You may also meet new people there who would be interested in taste-testing your brews since your pals and family members might be too biased on giving their feedback.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes as well. When you’re just starting out, it’ll be completely normal go through a lot of trial and error phases before achieving your first successful brew. Remember that pros are once amateurs, too, so don’t let the setbacks discourage you.