I live in an area that is known for its craft breweries, and frequently enjoy experiencing good craft beer. This has led to an interest in trying my hand at home brewing, but I’m not exactly sure where to start. I am someone who is capable of researching and learning a lot about a topic on my own, but I thought it would be fun to put the idea out to the community and see what suggestions might arise.
Here’s the question. Is there anyone out there who does have experience with home brewing? If so, what advice might you give to a newbie, especially one who still hasn’t done much research into the topic? I’ve come across a few home brewing publications. Does anyone know of a specific book that might be particularly useful?
I appreciate any and all advice.
There's a group here you should join.
The ultimate question is: do you like cooking. There are very few people I know that have not enjoyed cooking at enjoyed homebrewing. I worked at a homebrew shop for a while and we could predict with great accuracy whether someone would stick with it based on what and how they liked to cook.
Best book for a newb is sam calagione's extreme brewing. IMHO.
And this is where I'd suggesting starting out....
If you do start and like it, I'm gonna say something that will start a flame war on this thread: All-Grain brewing will not necessarily make you a better brewer. Too many people thing this is the case because they are higher on the learning curve when they start all-grain. But most of the time they know more about the entire brewing process (hops, yeast, proteins, carbonation, temperature control) rather than the grain making their beer better.
That is not to say its is not fun. And it is cheaper. And a small handful of styles do benefit. Also truly great brewers benefit from all-grain; maybe 5% of all grain brewers are great enough to take advantage of it.
However, AG guys try to bully others into it, with the claim it makes their beer better.
Also have fun. Unfortunately, there's a shocking number of geeks in homebrewing. They, like with the AG issue, try to push others into their way of doing things. Ultimately, if you make booze and have fun doing it you're 'doing it the right way'.
I've observed home brewing. My general advice would be to find a good local shop that will give advice about supplies and recipes. That was something Dad did right.
The other thing he learned over the years was to do it with a reliable friend. Dad never has more than 1 beer/night, 5 gallons is 40 pints. That's the same beer every night for 6 weeks, and you might not like it. Only once was Dad's beer ever awful, but he often had trouble getting it off his hands.
Minute advice from the awful round: Don't boil the water.
Thanks to both of you for the responses.
The Homebrewers Association has a introduction to homebrewing guide that is downloadable on PDF. I plan on using that as my starting point. There are a few homebrew shops in my general area, and I do know a couple local homebrewers who I can look to for advice.
Thanks for turning me onto the homebrewing group on this site. I haven't been registered very long and I don't spend all that much time in the community, so that little piece of advice actually turned me onto a few groups that match my interests.
" . . . do it with a reliable friend."
It was a "reliable friend" who got me interested in homebrewing, so hopefully he will help me drink each batch, for better or for worse, as I tread slowly into the world of making beer. I'm typically a one beer a night guy, as well, so that is definitely good advice!
Well I am not going to blow smoke up your skirt. Expect your first few brews to not make your expectations. But the key is patience.
I make an oktoberfest from a brewer's best box, and waited the recommended time and it wasn't what I expected. (To be honest it was way too bitter for that kind of beer) It was disappointing at first because I made it for Oktoberfest, but six months later it was amazing. So just be patient!
My housemates and I did some homebrewing in college. It was quite fun and served to provide beers for our parties. Instead of bottling, which can take up considerable time, we kegged our beer. You can find soda syrup kegs and get a bottle of CO2 with a regulator and tap. Personally I would recommend using Nitrogen as it doesn't oxygenate (read ruin) the beer if you don't drink it fast enough, it is more expensive but may be worth it. A small fridge with a tap-hole through the door will keep the beer cool. We even started roasting our own barley. We did have some horrible batches but, for the most part, they were fairly good. I really liked the Oatmeal Stout we made.
I have done many types of brewing from cans, partial mash, or all grain. My favorite is whatever I feel like at the time, or what looks good on the shelf at the store (in person or online). I started with a Mr. Beer set, made the pale ale that came with it, and was hooked. I tried other Mr. Beer recipes (all in a can, very easy), moved on to slightly more complicated brewing from other vendors in 5 gallon batches (by that time I had invested in a couple more Mr. Beer Kegs), then on to partial mash, then all grain as I learned more. Some will dismiss Mr. Beer as "not real brewing" but hey, it works, the beer is drinkable, and it's cheap enough to get people interested in this amazing hobby. Good luck, and I wish you good brews!