Homebrewing is an art and a science. Making the perfect homebrew batch is a challenge for any beer lover. We know that for a new homebrewer making your own beer for the first time is exciting but can also be a bit scary. There are many things to take into consideration when you are making beer. Having the proper ingredients, a great recipe, sanitization, all are things you must focus your attention.
That is why we decided to make a roundup post and reach out to 24 experienced homebrewers and ask them:
- 1 What Are Your Top 3 Tips for Perfecting the Perfect Homebrew Batch?
- 1.1 Duncan Bryant – American Homebrewers Association
- 1.2 Nick Rodammer – MittenBrew
- 1.3 Claire Russell – Home Brewtique
- 1.4 Denny Conn – Experimental Brew
- 1.5 Andrew Rostas – Stass Brewing
- 1.6 Jake Huolihan – Brulosophy
- 1.7 David Butler – Florida Beer Blog
- 1.8 Ryan Tessier – Ale Sessions
- 1.9 Henry Sorto-Munoz – Two Mugs Beer Club
- 1.10 Matt Simpson- The Beer Expert
- 1.11 Kelsey Chesterfield – The Original Craft Beer Club
- 1.12 Mike & John – Brew Dudes
- 1.13 Kiley Gwynn – Mountain Rose Herbs
- 1.14 Paul Harwood – Birmingham Brewing Company
- 1.15 Ryan Brawn – Hoppy Boston
- 1.16 Adrian and Carolyn – Brew Smith
- 1.17 Erik Jensen – Green Flash Brew
- 1.18 Alyson and Eric Swihart – Handbrewed Soaps
- 1.19 David Holland – Longtab Brewing
- 1.20 Kyle Westfall – Craft a Brew
- 1.21 Cody Lobreau – Beer Crank
- 1.22 Matt McCall – Coney Island Brewery
- 1.23 Cameron Gray – SouthYeasters Homebrew Club
- 1.24 Olan Suddeth – The Home Brew United
- 2 Final Words
What Are Your Top 3 Tips for Perfecting the Perfect Homebrew Batch?
We received a diversity of answers that you can read in the post below. Hopefully, this information is exactly what you need and it will guide you in making beer in the comfort of your home.
Duncan Bryant – American Homebrewers Association
I’m a minimalist brewer and my approach to making beer at home is all about simplicity and keeping things fun (and tasty):
1. Keep your recipe simple
With all the varieties of malts, hops, yeast, and adjuncts available it can be very tempting to add in a little of everything, but this can lead to an unfocused, “muddy” tasting beer. Stick to ingredients that are crucial to achieving the character you desire, and allow those ingredients to really shine!
2. Know your fermentation limits
Fermentation temperature is a crucial component in making great, clean-tasting homebrew, so knowing the limits of your fermentation environment is crucial. If you have a temperature-controlled fermentation chamber, then really anything is possible at any time.
If you’re fermenting in, say, a closet then figure out the temperature and fluctuations over the course of a day or two. Take this information and find yeast strains that thrive in that temperature range, which can also help determine some styles that would ferment well in that environment. Keep in mind the seasons will often change ambient temperature from one month to the next!
3. Use fresh ingredients
A beer can only be as good as the ingredients going into it! Get your hands on the freshest and highest-quality ingredients you can. Using ingredients past their prime can cause off-flavors and in the case of yeast can even prevent fermentation from happening all together! For the freshest ingredients, go to your local homebrew shop!
Nick Rodammer – MittenBrew
1. Focus on fermentation
The old saying is that brewers make wort, but yeast makes beer. Largely, this remains true, as fermentation flaws are frequently the difference between a so-so and great batch of homebrew. A few basic principles can really increase your chances of making a great beer every time.
Ensure you are pitching enough yeast cells, and that the yeast you are pitching is healthy and viable. For liquid yeast cultures, making a yeast starter is a great way to ensure both proper cell count and viability. If it fits into your budget, invest in a diffusion stone that can inject pure oxygen into your batch when you pitch your yeast, which will help them grow and ferment strong.
Lastly, really focus on controlling fermentation temperatures. Each yeast strain has an ideal temperature range for fermentation, and keeping your temperatures in that range will help ensure the beer turns out as intended.
2. Know your ingredients
I frequently tell people to “taste the beer in your head” as they develop a recipe. This may sound odd, but ultimately, understanding how every ingredient in your beer will contribute to the final product is crucially important to making great beer.
Each ingredient should have a specific role, and the better you understand what role each play, the greater the chance that your beer will turn out like you envision. If you want to use a specialty malt, think about how it will affect the beer’s flavor and aroma.
If you want to pair a mix of hops together, consider what each will bring to the overall profile. When thinking about which yeast strain you’d like to use, put in work to understand how it might change the beer’s various sensory aspects.
Just as every good recipe in the kitchen has its ingredients and spices scaled to specific levels for a reason, every great beer recipe uses varying types and amounts of malt, hops, yeast, water in a precise and intentional way. Thinking through these things while you develop your recipe will help you find the right balance in the final beer.
3. Keep oxidation to a minimum
This is more of an advanced technique, but oxygen, outside of when provided to the yeast for healthy fermentation, is the enemy of beer. On the hot side, this is less of a concern (i.e. hot side aeration), unless you focus on delicate, pale styles such as helles or pilsner.
German lager styles especially benefit from keeping dissolved oxygen to a minimum during the hot side brewing process. Techniques that anyone can use to keep dissolved oxygen (DO) low happen on the cold side after fermentation has concluded. If you keg your beer, ensure that they are purged of oxygen before you transfer your beer.
A good technique is to fill the keg to the very top with sanitizer and then push it out the liquid post using CO2. Doing a closed transfer out of your carboy or stainless steel fermenter, pushed by CO2, can also keep DO uptake to a minimum. Either way, keeping DO out of your beer will keep it tasting better fresh, and will dramatically extend its shelf life, so you can enjoy it for weeks and months after packaging.
Brewing beer is remarkably simple, but many would-be enthusiasts over-think the process. Despite the opportunities for error, don’t be put off. Brewing can be quite forgiving and even with mistakes chances are you’ll still get a beer you can be proud of. Having brewed literally hundreds of beers over the past few years, my top tips for brewing a great beer at home are simple:
Claire Russell – Home Brewtique
1. Write down everything you do
Measure and record it, including temperatures, weights, times – even the weather can influence your brew. Water temperatures, MASH time and temperature, hop additions, cooling time…Noting these things helps you learn your equipment and understand how each element affects your beer.
2. Pay attention to temperature
Mastering temperature control is what will make you a great homebrewer. Every brew helps you learn your equipment, enabling you to hit target temperatures. It is said that we make the wort and the yeast makes the beer – yet often we forget about fermentation temperature… Yeast performs best at constant temperatures so it’s important to avoid fluctuations wherever possible. Consider wrapping your fermenter in a towel to help and note that your fermentation location may change from month to month.
3. Learn from your mistakes
Don’t stress overly about getting everything perfect – enjoy the process and consider every mistake an opportunity to improve and learn. Some mistakes have beneficial results that you’ll want to repeat. Every brew adds to your experience and helps you to learn – assuming you’ve followed Tip 1 of course!
Homebrewing is not only about learning how to brew but about discovering what you like. Ultimately it should be fun. With practice and good systems, you’ll learn to brew the beer that you want to drink.
Denny Conn – Experimental Brew
1. Think before you brew
Start with the recipe. Use you “taste imagination” to think through what the finished beer will taste like. Don’t just randomly throw ingredients together. “Taste,” each ingredient in your mind and think about what it will contribute to the whole. Use any ingredient in any amount that you like, but have a reason for each one. Do the same thing with your process.
Think about each part of the brew day and know what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. Surprises during a brew aren’t nearly as much fun as you’d like them to be!
2. Organize before brewing
Get your grains crushed, your hops weighed, your water measured and adjusted (if that’s what you do) the day before brewing. After I weigh my hops, I put them in ziplock bags marked with the time of the addition and line them up in order. I lay out all the equipment I’ll need for the brew the day before.
3. Fermentation control is the key to making great beer
If you don’t control the fermentation, all the other work you’ve done will be wasted. Start by pitching the proper amount of healthy yeast. Healthy is the key here. Make a start if you need to, and if you’re using liquid yeast you’ll almost always need to. You don’t necessarily need to go the full-on yeast calculator/stir plate route. I’ve switched to a method that I find easier and at least as good, if not better.
Then you need to control the fermentation temperature. I prefer to ferment at or a few degrees below the lowest temperature recommended by the yeast manufacturer. After 4-5 days, you can start letting the temperature increase in order to ensure complete fermentation. To control the temperature, you can use something fancy like the Brewjacket Immersion Pro, or a freezer or fridge with a temperature controller.
For many years I got great results with a low tech solution…set the fermenter in a large bucket or tub of water. Then you can add ice packs to the water to reduce temperature, or put an aquarium heater in the water to increase the temperature. It’s not fancy and requires some attention, but it’s a cheap’n’easy way to make your beer better!
Andrew Rostas – Stass Brewing
You need to make sure that you have good sanitation practice. Use a good sanitizer and make sure that it’s relatively freshly made. A spray bottle with Starsan or other sanitizer is a handy thing to have around.
2. Yeast Health
The old saying goes something like, “the brewer makes wort, but yeast makes beer”. You need to make sure that your yeast is healthy throughout fermentation. This means having the right pitching rate, relatively fresh yeast and suitable fermentation temperatures with well-oxygenated wort. Different yeast strains require different temperatures.
Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the temperature range. The lower end of the range will give you a cleaner but slower fermentation while sitting on the high end of the range will often bring out more of the esters of the yeast.
3. Recipe formulation
Most home brewers will know a delicious beer when they taste it, but it takes a while to understand how to get to that point in terms of how much base malt? Which base malt? Specialty malts (like Crystal or rye)?
Start with a commercial beer you like and then look for a clone recipe (either online or in a book/magazine) and try to brew it as best you can. Do a side by side comparison and then make notes of how your attempt is different. Do you like it better your way? Make small changes to the recipe and try again. Style guides are also really helpful for this process too.
Jake Huolihan – Brulosophy
1. Know your process
Really brewing is cooking. Sure you can make a great dish once, but unless you know your inputs and process you probably aren’t going to repeat this consistently and be able to serve your friends and neighbors that thirst quenching summer quaffer they want while discussing lawn watering strategies. From recipe formulation to equipment losses, you’re unlikely to create the same beer twice unless you’ve somewhat of an understanding of this. People often claim they got lucky and brewed their best batch ever, to me luck has nothing to do with it.
2. Treat your water well
Call me a blind follower, but I was certainly of the opinion “if your water tastes fine your beer will taste fine.” That is until I started to experiment with water quality and profiles. Over the course of 10 separate experiments, I believe, we’ve found water composition produces a noticeably different beer from a control at a rate much higher than other variables said to matter a ton (looking at you yeast).
Really it makes sense when you take a step back and think about it. How many people are filling up the pitcher on their dinner table with water from the hose out back? I’m certainly not. Why would you brew beer with that?
Personally, I’ve gone a bit farther than that and adjusted specific ion concentrations in each batch. Either way water quality and composition is one thing I can totally get behind as a tool to make the best beer possible.
3. Have fun
I don’t know about you, but I’m brewing beer because I love the process and adore the community. Make some friends in a local beer club, collaborate, and brew what you want. Commercial Brewers are handicapped by a profit motive which homebrewers simply don’t have.
Use that to your advantage and brew something fun, innovative, or never before seen. Worst case scenario you dump $25-$40 in costs for a story you can tell your buddies forever.
David Butler – Florida Beer Blog
For me, the most important things about homebrewing have nothing to do with actual beer…
1. Ask questions
No one knows everything, especially if you’re anything like me. If you have a question, it’s quite easy to find the answer to those questions pretty much everywhere, especially at homebrewing stores and at breweries, when you can be pretty positive they’ve encountered it before.
I’ve dumped my fair share of batches because I erroneously took shortcuts when it came to cleaning. I was not a smart man.
3. Take notes
This is probably the most important piece of information I can provide. Document everything; times, amounts, brewing conditions, everything. If you ake a great brown ale, you want that brown ale to taste just as great the 20th time you make it. Notes will help with that.
Ryan Tessier – Ale Sessions
1. Invest in some quality equipment
When most homebrewers start out, they tend to buy the bare minimum equipment, which is fine when you’re just learning, but to really improve, some higher quality equipment is needed. Pieces like wort chillers will drastically improve homebrew quality thanks to increased precision. Brewing is a science, therefore it’s heavily dependent on the equipment you have and your ability to control all stages of the process.
2. Create your own yeast starter
Yeast is the backbone of all homebrewing, and having your own active yeast starter will make a significant difference over store bought yeast. It takes only about 20 minutes to do and dramatically improves your chances of getting a strong, active primary fermentation phase. It also reduces your chances for contamination since the conversion of sugars to alcohol happens more rapidly when the yeast are healthy and plentiful.
3. Don’t be afraid to experiment
Homebrewing is supposed to be fun, so once you’ve got a basic understanding, find a way to make it your own. Sure it’s great to clone a popular beer like Heady Topper, but it’s more satisfying to create something for yourself. Some of the best homebrews I’ve done are beers that would never make it to a commercial market, like a sarsaparilla stout. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, you’ll learn from them, and ultimately end up with a better product, and one you can wholly call your own.
Henry Sorto-Munoz – Two Mugs Beer Club
Here are some tips, from my experience for perfecting the perfect homebrew. You always want to use fresh ingredients, the goal is always to make a well-balanced beer, not too hoppy not too dry, not too bitter.
Keep your hands away from the wort, you don’t want to contaminate the brew. You always have to make sure that everything is sanitized, it is an imperative step that you must take otherwise you can compromise your whole batch waste material and time. Make a habit of keeping a brew log.
Record all your steps and ingredients, that way if you so happen to make the greatest beer on earth, at least you’ll record on how to reproduce it again. A great software to use is “Beersmith” I highly recommend it.
A wise brewmaster once told me, is to experiment. Don’t be afraid to fail and that not every batch would be a home run. Expect to make some awful ones before you make a somewhat decent brew.
3. Practice, practice, practice!
Practice makes perfect. So the next time anyone is thinking of making their own brew at home, go for it and don’t be afraid. One must remember that you’re not going to sell your brew, you’re making it for yourself and your buds! Cheers!
Matt Simpson- The Beer Expert
Learn everything you can about the craft, before diving in. Brewing is like chess; easy to learn, very hard to learn how to do well.
2. Sanitation, sanitation, sanitation.
Infections kill entire batches – and all the work, time and money you’ve put into it. Everything that touches the finished wort (pre-fermented brew), needs to be sanitized well. You may have made the world’s next award-winning beer, but if it gets infected, down the drain it goes.
3. Don’t worry.
In the words of the immortal Charlie Papzian, relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew. Follow the first two points and you’ll be fine. As long as it doesn’t become infected, you’ll still have decent, drinkable beer, even it’s not exactly what you’d expected. So just relax and enjoy the process.
Kelsey Chesterfield – The Original Craft Beer Club
1. Try Making Your Own Yeast Starter
Making your own yeast starter is not a complicated process and it goes a long way in the quality of the finished beer. By putting a small amount of time/effort into making your own not only allows you to make a sufficient amount, but it could save you money in the long run. If you give this a try, make sure you are ready to brew! It’s important you have fresh and healthy yeast.
2. Chill Your Wort Quickly
While this is a step may not seem like a big deal, it is still important to pay close attention! Chilling your wort is also called a “cold break” and helps keep your yeast healthy while solidifying the proteins and tannins that are not good for the beer. This step also helps with the clarity of your finished brew.
3. It’s Not All About Balance
When first starting out, it can be important to find some balance, or middle ground between sweet and bitter or hoppy and smooth, etc. This applies to seasoned brewers too, but once you get comfortable with homebrewing, it can pay off to push the limits a bit. Experimenting with making a very hop-forward beer, adding more roasted malts, or throwing in some unconventional ingredients is where the fun begins! It’s all about preference here.
Mike & John – Brew Dudes
These Brew Dudes love beer brewing. The ultimate reward is not when a batch is just better than good. Its when it comes out perfectly as intended. Here are our three tips for striving towards perfection.
1. Cleaning and Sanitation
If your equipment isn’t clean and sanitary you just don’t have any hope of making the best batch you can. Quality cleaning and sanitation products are at every home-brew retailer. We strongly recommend not using a single product that claims to do both cleaning and sanitizing.
2. Repetition and Consistency
The best plan is no substitute for experience. If you want to brew a perfect batch of beer don’t expect it to come from just the first try. Repetition of a recipe along with tasting and tweaking the recipe and the process leads to great beer. Three or so cycles and you should be getting pretty close to perfect.
3. Keep it simple
Often fewer ingredients are better. A five-malt stout can often be more complex than an eight-malt stout when brewed well (See point 2). Two malts in a pale ale is usually plenty. Pilsner all by itself can be transcendent.
Kiley Gwynn – Mountain Rose Herbs
These are my top 3 tips for making your best brew:
1. Always make sure your equipment is clean
Also, anything that will touch your wort post flameout has been properly sanitized. The fastest way to ruin a great batch of beer is to use dirty tools and equipment.
2. Become an expert with your set up
Doing a run through with cold water can help you find ways to improve your efficiency, save time, and make your brew day safer.
3. Keep notes and ask for feedback
If you only keep track of your recipe you might forget a detail that made one batch better than the other. Did you mash a little high? Over sparge? Forget an addition? You might not remember those details next time you go to brew.
Paul Harwood – Birmingham Brewing Company
Once the boil is completed anything that touches your beer poses an infection risk, so it’s worth paying extra attention to this step, as you don’t want to waste all the ingredients and time that you’ve put into your brew!
Cleaning and Sanitizing are different, cleaning means all soil is removed and sanitizing means pathogens on the surface of the equipment have been reduced.
There are loads of things you can use, from washing up liquid to purpose made chemicals. Take some time to understand how they work and find what’s best for you!
2. Control Fermentation
If all your equipment is clean, then the next biggest cause of off flavors is yeast. Under pitching yeast or slips outside of the recommended temperature range can result in the yeast becoming stressed and producing undesirable and not very tasty compounds.
As a minimum make sure your yeast is in date and follow pitch rates on the packet, but you can also re-hydrate dry yeast or make a yeast starter.
Also, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a dedicated fridge to control temperature, putting fermenters in an ice bath, using a heated blanket or wet towels with a fan can all work to help control the temperature!
3. Keep it simple
When starting out the temptation is to try and recreate the Peanut Butter Stout or DIPA that you tasted in the bar last week.
Try and resist at first and make some brews with basic grain bills and single hop varieties – you can hone your technique and identify any off flavors much easier in a simple brew with less variables than you can a complex brew which uses all sorts of adjuncts.
When you have a consistent base and reliable process it’s time to start experimenting!
Ryan Brawn – Hoppy Boston
Here are my three tips for perfecting a homebrew recipe:
1. Do a lot of research.
The internet is an amazing resource for brewers, figure out the style and flavor profile you want to brew and then see how other brewers make similar beers. If you are modeling your beer after a commercial release many breweries post ingredient lists online and some will even provide tips if you reach out.
2. Take extensive notes on every batch you brew.
Designing a beer is an art form, but brewing is science. Keep track of every ingredient, time and temperature. Being able to brew a consistent beer batch-to-batch is a critical part of perfecting a recipe.
3. Experiment and have fun!
Some people take this whole process way too seriously. Beer is supposed to be fun. Try new things, you never know when you’ll stumble onto something amazing. Just remember tip #2, nothing is worse than making an incredible batch of beer and not knowing how to make it again.
Adrian and Carolyn – Brew Smith
My top 3 tips for perfecting the perfect homebrew batch:
1. Brew Small
Small batches mean you can experiment with different hops or grains without breaking the bank. Especially with the huge amount of hops needed for the popular NEIPA [North East IPA] or XPA styles, you’ll be using heaps of hops trying to get the flavor you want.
If you brew a 1/4 size batch, you can use half the amount of ingredients, but taste twice the effect. With small batches, you can try heaps of possibilities. Even if you brew something you don’t like, relax – it’s only a small batch.
2. Change only one ingredient at a time:
If you change more than one thing at a time, it’s hard to tell if your modification was an upgrade or a downgrade. Some hops have strange flavors that won’t be apparent until the beer is fully conditioned, up to 3-5 weeks.
If you have a few batches going at once, you can try all sorts of possibilities at once – and figure out if that new hop variety is your new secret weapon or just a source of ‘catty’ flavor. Supercharge your beer one perfect ingredient at a time.
3. Get an honest opinion
When brewing for yourself, it’s easy to get caught in an upward spiral of bitterness or ABV [alcohol percentage] – and not even realize it! Is it possible your taste buds have gotten tangled up pursuing your fermented Valhalla?
Too much hoppiness after a while can take its toll on your tongue, so try asking a friend who likes craft beer what they think. You may be surprised that you’re right on track – or that you’ve gone straight off the rails!
Erik Jensen – Green Flash Brew
2. When making IPA you want the beer to be hoppy but not overly bitter.
Go light on the bittering additions and big on the late additions. In a five-gallon batch use at least 5 oz. of fresh pellets for your dry hop.
3. Healthy yeast is one of the most important ways to make delicious beer.
Make sure that the liquid yeast that you use is fresh, preferably less than a week old. Better yet, make a starter and don’t brew until the starter is rockin.
Alyson and Eric Swihart – Handbrewed Soaps
1. The key to a successful brewed beer is in the sanitation.
You can make the yummiest beer, but if you forget to sanitize, say goodbye to your ‘liquid gold.’ This happened to us once in the early years. We had sanitized EVERYTHING (so we had thought.) We bottled our beer, came back two weeks later, and saw floaties in the beer. It wasn’t just one bottle, it was all of them. We thought it was the yeast that got into the bottles during transfer, but later we confirmed it as bacteria. We had to ditch the beer. We figured out we didn’t sanitize the bottles good enough. Something must have been at the bottom of the bottles that we missed while cleaning them. Lesson learned!
2. Don’t drink so much beer while you are making it, that you boil over.
You have to drink beer while you brew, it’s the law of home brewing! But just watch yourself on brew day! We had a brew day where four different brewers (one had won awards for their beer) can over. The award winner kept joking, “How can you tell a beginner brewer from an expert brewer? If he boils over!” As the day wore on and more beer was consumed, guess who was the only one not to watch their temperatures and boiled over? Yep, the “expert” of the bunch! He will never live this story down!!!
3. Don’t forget to transfer your beer!
Always write down your transfer/ bottling schedule on a calendar. We forgot to transfer our beer into secondary in a timely manner ( 2 weeks is the norm, we transferred at 6 weeks!) As a result, the water in the airlock got so low that air got into the carboy and bacteria started to grow. We had to dump 10 gallons of beer.
Extra Tip: It’s ok to start with an extract to get the hang of brewing.
There is a big learning curve when starting to brew. Start slow and small. A beer home brewing kit is a great way to learn to process and learn the jargon, while successfully creating a drinkable beer.
David Holland – Longtab Brewing
1. Start with quality, fresh ingredients.
2. Strict temperature control through the process: mash, sparge and fermentation.
3. Relax and enjoy the process!
Kyle Westfall – Craft a Brew
Craft a Brew’s top 3 tips for perfecting the perfect home-brew batch:
1. Maintain proper fermentation temperature.
Happy yeast = great beer. Create a hospitable environment for your yeast by maintaining the proper fermentation temperature. If the ambient temperature is too cold, the yeast will go dormant and slow down fermentation. If temps are too high, yeast will become overactive and produce unwanted off-flavors.
Our rule of thumb for fermenting home-brewed ales: stay within a range between 60 – 75*F. You can use a fermometer to monitor fermentation temperatures! Be sure to check the packaging or manufacturer’s website for suggested fermentation temperatures – your tastebuds will thank you!
2. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize!
Everyone’s heard this one before, but it’s regarded as the most important step in the home-brew process. Sanitation can mean the difference between fantastic beer and beer so skunked you’ll end up pouring it down the drain. Be thorough when sanitizing your equipment to ensure that yeast is the only organism that comes in contact with your beer.
3. Don’t skimp on ingredients.
Your finished beer can only taste as good as the ingredients used on brew day! Spring for spring water – it contains minerals essential for brewing. Source fresh malts (or fresh extracts) for your base & wait to mill (crush) your grains until just before brewing for maximum flavor & freshness. Ensure that hops are from a recent crop year and are stored in cold temperatures to preserve potency.
Cody Lobreau – Beer Crank
1. Always be passionate about what you do
2. Always experiment if you think a certain strain of yeast, grain or hop might work well in a batch.
3. If the beer turns out bad, ah well – practice makes perfect and you might have something that you’re not happy with but other people might enjoy drinking it.
Matt McCall – Coney Island Brewery
It doesn’t matter how good a recipe is – If you don’t have proper sanitation practices, you will never be able to make a good beer, let alone a great beer! This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many homebrewers aren’t following good sanitation behaviors.
2. Be Simplistic
Many homebrewers are eager to make their recipe “unique” by using 10 different malts and hops in a recipe. Good beer has some complexity, but you should be able to pick out what each malt and hop character contributes to the beer.
3. Consistency and Patience
You may brew a beer once and decide that you’d like to revise a few things next go-around. I recommend keeping a log, and taking good notes so you can retain the good practices, and in turn, let go of the bad. It’s impossible to replicate a brew if you have bad record-keeping practices. Finally, be patient. It’s easy to be eager to drink your brew and rush certain parts of the process. Be patient and let the brewing process complete at each phase – you’ll be rewarded!
Cameron Gray – SouthYeasters Homebrew Club
So you want to brew the perfect homebrew? Whether a novice or a seasoned brewer here are my top 3 tips.
1. Get the recipe right
Work out your recipe, do trial batches, get unbiased feedback from people who know what they are talking about (try your local homebrew club for a good group) and refine your recipe.
2. Prepare for brew day
Make sure you have everything you need before you start your brew. Making stuff up on the fly is a recipe for disaster. Substitutions, even of the same malt from a different maltster, will affect your beer.
The easiest way to ruin an awesome beer is to get an infection. This is the biggest point for all brewing – home or commercial.
That’s it. Brewing good beer is easy, brewing great beer takes patience.
Olan Suddeth – The Home Brew United
1. Be sure to pitch enough healthy yeast, and control your fermentation temperature
If you’re using liquid yeast and don’t make a starter, you are underpitching – likely by a huge amount. If you’re just sticking your beer in a closet, it’s likely getting far too hot – and is experiencing a roller coaster of temperature. Until you address these two aspects of quality fermentation, you will likely struggle to brew consistently good beer.
2. Do your homework
It baffles me how many newer brewers set out to brew a given style of beer with no idea whatsoever how to do that. There are too many great resources available, from books like Designing Great Beers to various online communities and recipe repositories, for this to still be the case.
You’re going to invest money and time – why not put in a little effort and know that you’re starting from a good place? Homebrewers love to talk beer and share their successes – get input on your recipe, read successful recipes, use these to shape what you’re doing.
3. Less is more
Stay away from jalapeno vanilla coffee stouts until you have a lot of experience. Don’t fall into the trap of tossing six specialty grains in for a hint of this and a dash of that… you end up with muddled, “brown” beer that lacks any distinct character. Some of my absolute best beers have been one base grain, one or two specialty grains, and appropriate hops. Also, the more ingredients you use, the more moving parts you have to end up with the desired character.
Thank you so much to all the homebrewers that contributed to this post! If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below.
Remember that homebrewing is about having fun and experimenting. It’s possible that your first homebrew batch won’t be quite perfect but as long as you learn from your mistakes always seeking to improve, you have to keep trying.
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