Simple beer brewing tips - a guest post by James Ryan.
James Ryan is an amateur brewer but certainly a professional beer taster! He's also a Brewshop customer, and you can find him and his blog at www.howtohomebrewbeers.com.
I've been brewing beer for about two years now after my wife gave me the classic Christmas gift of a beer kit that came with everything you need to make your first home brew beers. I was pretty happy with how my first brew turned out and decided to keep going. A friend recommended I use Brewshop as as source of ingredients and gear, so I tried them out and I have been buying my beer kits from them ever since.
Brewshop do a fast turn around with your order and are quite reasonably priced. I find their beer enhancers work well and I tend to favour their Black Rock beer kit range as I have not had a bad experience with it at all.
After a couple of years of home brewing in my small shed, I thought I'd start a website to share some of the beer brewing tricks and tips and now I'm sharing some with you!
Maybe start with an ale over a lager
The truth is that the darker the beer, the more forgiving it will be in the home brewing process. It can be very easy to make a mistake with your first home brew so a beer style that's good to drink and is also easy to take care of is the brew you are after.
Keep it clean
You will need to sterilise the heck out of everything you use. If you're starting out as a home brewer, your kit should contain a cleansing and sterilising agent. You NEED to make sure that at the very least your drum is fully clean and sterilised before you start your brewing process. There is nothing more disappointing that going to bottle your brew and recognising the scent of a bad brew that has been contaminated by nasty bugs.
Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles
Just because the bubbles have stopped bubbling through the airlock, it doesn't mean the fermentation process necessarily is complete. It would be a real shame for your bottled beer to start exploding if you haven't given the beer a chance to finish fermenting properly. Use a hydrometer to ensure the fermentation is finished before you at least consider getting that beer into glass bottles. It could be that you let your beer rest longer than the written instructions that came with your beer kit. Then bottle away.
Temperature can have an affect on your beer
It would be a mistake to think that home brewing is basically a 'set and forget' process. It's not. Don't leave your drum outside on the back porch in the hot sun (or freezing cold of winter to do its thing!) Leave it wrapped in blankets in your garden shed if you have to, but at a minimum make sure it's in a generally constantly and consistently heated environment. A very rough guide is that you should aim to brew lagers between 10-14 degrees, and get those ales done between 18-21 degrees.
Beer enhancers are your best friends
You may have heard the expression 'mouth feel' when describing beer. Think of it as that sense of 'full heartiness' that you get from that first mouthful of beer. A 'brew enhancer' pack is what you need to help you get that mouth feel. If you just use dextrose, your beer will tend to feel weak, like you are drinking flavoured water. Brewshop has a range of beer enhancers that are matched to specific beers - so their pilsner enhancer has Motueka hops included that complement the pilsner style beers.
Yes, you can add hops to your beer
To that end, it's a fine idea to add hops to your beer. This is done so you can get some bitter flavours and nice aromas which add to the drinking experience. There are many varieties of hops and they all have different qualities which in turn means certain hops are suitable for certain kinds of beer. For example, Golding hops are well known for their use in ales.
Do keep records
When making beer, write down what you did, what you used and anything random that happened. This will give you a strong foundation on which to make future decisions about how you may want to make your beer. If you find that you've pulled off a stunner of a beer, you might be able to figure out just exactly how that happened. It could be the difference between remembering that you used a certain mix of hops in your brew!
A patient brewer is a patient beer drinker
Despite your keenness to drink your golden ale, it is a genuine mistake to drink your beer too early.
Your beer needs time to carbonate in the bottle so let it chill and do its thing. The fermentation process and the immediate time after involves a complex relationship between the beer's ingredients and the yeast that need time to sort themselves out. The patient beer drinker who leaves their beer at least three weeks before cracking it open will enjoy the drop even more.