Here are 11 tips for making the better homebrew beer.
We know that new brewers are always looking for advice on what they can do to improve their beers. So, here are 11 tips Thomas from Schoolhouse Brewing would suggest to every new brewer.
1. Keep your recipes simple.
Remember, brewing is more like baking and less like cooking. Simplicity can be the key to a fantastic beer. With all the vast ingredients to choose from, it is easy to become like a kid in a candy store; however, I suggest picking a couple of elements and letting them shine.
2. Use Fresh Ingredients
The quality of anything you make to consume relies on having the best and freshest ingredients. Make sure that yeast, hops, and grains are in their prime. That is why we suggest purchasing from a local homebrew shop, so you know what you are getting.
3. Focus on Fermentation
Never forget that you, the brewer, makes the wort; the yeast makes the beer. That is why any fermentation flaws can be the first element that can make a bad beer. Pitch enough yeast and make sure you ferment at a consistent and correct temperature. And, always make sure the wort is aerated properly.
4. Keep Oxidation to a Minimum.
One of the biggest off-flavors for beer occurs due to oxidation. Make your fermentation is in an oxygen-free environment. Reduced oxygen environments can be challenging for new brewers, but ensuring that all vessels are purged with carbon dioxide between all transfers is critical.
5. Organize your Brew Day
The brewer is the head chef of their brewing. So, take a page from all chefs and utilize mise en place, or having all your tools, ingredients, and cleaning supplies at the ready.
6. Document Everything
One of many things teaching science for 20 years taught me is that you must document everything in an experiment. Writing every step down will keep your head on a swivel and allow you to refer back if there are ever questions about what techniques (good or bad) you have done.
7. Change One Variable at a Time
Just like documentation, you will find that you want to change multiple elements in a recipe. Change one thing at a time. It is easy to get all mixed up by making 2,3, or more changes, and you will never be able to see what you have done to improve the beer.
8. Yeast Health
One of the first advanced skills I suggest all brewers pursue is learning how much yeast to use and when to make a starter for your pitches. Any beer over 5% ABV will need at least 200 billion yeast cells. The average package of yeast purchased for brewing has 100 billion cells.
9. Chill the Wort Quickly
Chilling the wort does not seem that big of a deal. Wrong. Remember, bacterial infections can begin at any temperature below 180 degrees F. Also, you will get a cleaner beer because the proteins will fall out of the wort quicker.
10. Know your Equipment
No matter if you are doing extract, partial mash, or all-grain brewing, know every piece of your equipment. Understanding the system inside and out helps with efficiency, keeps the brew day safe, and can help in troubleshooting if anything goes wrong.
This one is most obvious, but you would be surprised how many times beer becomes infected by carelessness. You wouldn’t want your surgeon to have just “clean” hands and instruments. You want them sanitized.
And remember, as Charlie Papazian has always says, “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.”