By Chris Lindsey
1. Drink a beer. How else are you going to decide what you want to brew?
2. Read a book. The brewing process has a number of steps that need adequate explanation. A good book will explain the whole process and serve as a handy reference during your first several brews. You can buy a book or check one out from the library.
3. Buy equipment. You can find the right stuff at your local homebrew supply store or on a number of websites. It’s okay to start simple; the equipment will still be useful even if you upgrade your system later.
4. Find a recipe. Or make up your own. You can find plenty of recipes online, in brewing books, in magazines, or at homebrew supply stores. Try to read through the recipe and understand what ingredients are being used and why, it will help when you try to tweak the recipe later or create your own.
5. Buy ingredients. Also found at your local homebrew supply store or online. If you go to a homebrew supply store, browse the ingredient selections to explore what else is out there. Chew on a few grains of malt and smell the hops. Also very useful when you want to get creative later.
6. Brew beer! You may still be confused and overwhelmed by the brewing process but the best way to learn is by doing.
7. Drink your beer. Did it turn out the way you expected? Why or why not?
Take notes while you brew on what you actually did, not just what you planned to do before you started to brew. Brewing rarely goes according to plan, so it’s best to write down what actually happened. In case the beer turns out better or worse than expected, you’ll have your notes to reference; you won’t remember all of the details.
Be meticulous about cleaning and sanitizing everything that touches the wort or beer after the boil. Most ruined batches are due to poor cleanliness/sanitation, and it’s the easiest oversight for a new brewer. Being lazy is for drinking beer, not for brewing.
Hopefully your first batch turns out great, but don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t. Bad batches are a fact of homebrewing life. As a fellow homebrewer once told me: “If you’ve never had a bad batch then you’re not brewing enough.” Smell and taste the beer to see if you can determine what went wrong. Bring it by your local homebrew store or homebrew club if you need more help. Reference the notes you dutifully took while brewing. Most importantly – try, try, and try again. I once had 5 batches in a row turn out badly. I finally fixed the problem and now a bad batch is a rare occurrence.
Part 1: Why I Brew Beer
Part 2: 4 Common Questions
Part 3: You are here. Awesome!
Part 4: Extract or All-Grain
Part 5: Five Keys to Consistency
Part 6: Bottling or Kegging
Part 7: My Best Brewing Resources
Part 8: Beer Alternatives
Legal Stuff: Of course, we should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).