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Brew Better Beer At Home

Brewing beer and ales at home is a massive hobby that has entertained and inebriated many people throughout the ages. Once a secretive industry, we now all have the ability to brew our own beers through the use of homebrew kits and packages available at most stores.

Most people find that their first batch of beer goes horribly wrong and ends up tasting like a fizzy puddle – but that’s because they don’t know the tips and tricks of the breweratti masters – the information they have been keeping from you all these years.

This page aims to reveal the age-old secrets of beer brewing with 10 killer tips to take you from producing foaming dishwater to the perfect pint.

Tip 1 - Fresh Ingredients Makes Best Beer

One of the most important tips you could take from this eBook is that buying fresh ingredients will make the best homebrew beer ever. Most people start with dried yeast from a simple DIY Beer Brewing Kit and the logical progression is to move to liquid yeast as soon as possible.

On the subject of yeast, a top tip is to try to find a local store or shop where you can buy fresh yeast, rather than relying on stock that may be out of date or several months or years old. The fresher it is, the better.

When it comes to storing your ingredients, always remember to keep your liquid yeast in the fridge and your hops in the freezer if possible. All grains need to be kept in a cool place and the freezer is often the best for the hops. As with most perishable foodstuffs, all the ingredients will have a limited shelf life, so ensure that you keep them in a sensible place.

Tip 2 – Read, Drink, Read Some More…

Great beer brewing takes time, energy, effort and dedication to produce a great pint. Being aware of the different methods, styles and procedures for brewing your own beer at home will help you know what to do and when. There are many different books on the subject (that's why you're reading this - right?) and keeping abreast of other people’s experiences an advice will help.

Learning from other people's mistakes, hearing experts answer other people's questions and reading experienced brewers reveal the results of experiments and tests they have been doing is all part of the beer brewing art form. Drinking beer is a social event - why shouldn't brewing beer be too?

Tip 3 – Keep It Clean!

Everyone has heard of “The Bad Pint” - right? Sure. It's the odd tasting brew that makes your stomach grumble and your beard curl up. Beer does go bad and go off, but most problems with “off tasting” home-brews can be due to poor cleanliness when putting it all together.

Anything that you use to make your beer and anything that touches the liquid must be clean and sterilised before hand. Yes… even your special wizards stirring stick you love so much… You don't want dodgy bacteria growing in your new beverage do you?

There are many different types of sanitizing solutions you can use to keep your stuff clean, so make sure you use the right products for the job and keep it all clean. This is an area where most new beer brewers go wrong and have the most problems.

Top 4 – It Pays To Cool Down, Quick!

During the wort cooling process, it is always best to bring the temperature down as quickly as possible. I know I have already said, beer brewing takes time, but at this point, it is better to cool it down as fast as you can. Doing this quickly will reduce the risk to your beer from those nasty bacteria, evil infections and oxidisation damage.

You have various options for this part of brewing. Place the pot or tub into a bath or large bowl full of ice-cold water to help the cooling process. Another good tip is to plunge the container into a bucket full of ice cubes. Real men use a copper or immersion-chilling device that draws away the heat by circulating cold water through a coil in the wort.

Although it may cost you more money for these items, they will be of benefit and will help with this tricky part of the process.

Tip 5 – The Wort Boiling Master Class

Boiling the Wort is essential to producing great beer. During this time, apart from adding a quantity of hops from time to time, not a great deal seems to happen when you are “in the boil” - but this is where the magic happens! When the hops are added, they release oils and give your beer its slightly bitter taste. It is important to follow your recipe here and add the right amount of hops; otherwise your beer may be too sweet.

Another great tip is to only boil for around 60 minutes in total if you want a dark beer, or for an extra 30 minutes on top if you prefer lighter ale.

Tip 6 – Keep Your Cool When Fermenting

Unless you live in and air conditioning store, you may struggle to keep the temperature at the right setting when fermenting your brew. It is important to maintain a regular temperature at around 66-68F and you should get your hands on a stick on thermometer so you can keep an eye on your beer.

Many people advise to place the fermenter in a cool, dry, dark place and even wrap it in material or towels to help keep it at the right temperature. If you are really struggling to keep the temp down, consider using wet towels and place a fan in front of the fermenter to keep it cool.

Tip 7 – You Wanna Supersize That?

As a keen brewer, I am sure you have watched all of those great videos on YouTube of the “European Breweratti” stirring their mash in large vats to produce many bottles and gallons of beer. In fact, they do actually have a method in their madness - brewing on a large scale does actually work well.

Imagine you are planning to boil a smaller amount of your beer rather than use it all at one time - you will definitely not get the benefits of boiling it all together at the same time.

If needs be, move house, build and extension or move your brewing activities to the garden shed and buy a larger brew pot. The simple act of brewing and boiling more beer at the same time will make your beer taste better, last longer and will help you move to become a better beer brewer.

Tip 8 – Upgrade Your Hardware

I suspect that most people who are reading this Beer Brewing Tips eBook will be looking to migrate from simple brewing kits, to more serious and adventurous things. The kits you can buy are more than suitable for the first time brewer, although I expect that over 90% of them go wrong, but having the right equipment will help you become a better brewer.

Migrate from plastic fermenters and carboys to glass or stainless steel ones. These versions will do the job much better, are easier to keep clean and carry less risk of becoming damaged accidentally. These professional products will have been designed for the more serious brewer, making them more reliable overall.

Tip 9 - Make a Yeast Starter

One tip that was shared with me when I moved to full grain brewing was the use of a “Yeast Starter”. I was already used to brewing from pre-made kits, where you get all of the ingredients and equipment, but using a starter made all the difference to my brews.

A yeast starter will help your beer ferment better and will help the fermentation processes start quicker. People have also said that it will also help reduce the risk of bacteria and infections.

To make your yeast starter it is usually best to start it 3-4 days prior to when you are going to start brewing. To begin, boil up a small amount of your dried malt extract in about a quart of water. Also add in around a quarter of an ounce of hops. Next, allow this mixture to cool down for a good period of time and then add your yeast to it. Cover the starter with an airtight seal and store it in a dark and dry location (cupboard) and it will be ready for use at the end of the 3-4 day period.

Tip 10 – Consider Future Brewing Plans

If you are a beginner in brewing beer and are looking to increase the volume of number of brews, you will soon want to start getting larger equipment (or a new house!). If you are thinking of doing this as a serious hobby, it will pay to consider where you might end up in the future. Buying larger boiling pots, containers and grains may be a better option than starting small and scaling up each time you want to brew more.

It is not always possible to buy the biggest and best product straight away, but consider getting equipment you can afford, but that will allow you to scale up your brewing when the time is right without having to put you hand in your pocket again.

Conclusion

These tips are an amalgamation and compendium of years of brewing experience and trial and error, mixed with experimentation and science. Brewing beer is an art form and should be treated as such.

Knowing what to do and when is only half the battle for your first flagon of homebrewed ale. It takes time, precious care and determination. Sprinkle in natural ingredients; add some individual flair and you will be sharing your spoils with your friends in no time.

Always seek advice from your beer-brewing peers, read instructions and know what you are doing and how to do it. Beer brewing is not without risk and therefore should be treated with care at all times. After all, it is your ale we are talking about!

These tips are just the first steps on the ladder to great beer and you are already on the way up! Thanks and good luck friend!

Drinks


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