Home Brewed Wisdom: Your First Brew

Experiences Brewing Beer

(confused about why I’m writing about beer? Try here first)

Your First Brew

There’s not much I can tell you about your first brew. I went over the basic method here but I don’t want to delve too much into the nitty-gritty and overwhelm you with details. You have to just go through it on your own to see and feel what it’s like.

(Note: this is going to be for extract brewing, which I suggest any starting home brewer begins with, as it’s much more simple and requires much less of an investment of both money and time)

If you don’t have equipment and aren’t sure what to get, here’s going to be my advice for lots of things: Find a Local Homebrew Store (LHBS) and speak to the staff there. They will be knowledgeable and helpful. They will point out useful beginners kits and equipment you need. They are great. It’s likely they are home brewers themselves and always seem interested to help out newbies. Honestly, when you have any questions in regards to homebrewing, asking the staff at a LHBS is always a good option. They are a great resource.

If you don’t have a LHBS close by, you can look online for homebrewing kits. northernbrewer.com isn’t bad. Check out the reviews for various kits and pick one. Try to figure out what you might be looking for. A glass car-boy is old school and looks great, but can be difficult to clean with its narrow opening, meanwhile a plastic bucket is practical and cheap, but has its own issues. Really, any starting kit will work. If you want to put together your own kit, check out the basic brewing post I mentioned above. It has resources at the bottom that will tell you exactly what you need.

Now you have equipment. What’s next? Ingredients and a recipe. Since this is your first brew, I suggest purchasing a recipe kit, which includes all the ingredients you need as well as step-by-step instructions. This takes much of the guesswork and thinking out of it which means you can focus on the process and familiarize yourself with it. Your LHBS will likely have recipe kits. My LHBS, Homebrew Emporium, has kits and its own recipes, all of which are solid from my experience. I have heard northernbrewers recipe kits are decent as well.

Once you have your equipment, recipe and ingredients, you are good to go! Make sure you have a good 4-5 hour block of free time and brew! It shouldn’t take that long every time but it’s always good to plan for it, as cleaning itself can take awhile. Follow the instructions on the recipe. Your beginner’s brewing kit may have instructions as well but ignore those and simply follow the recipe. It will do you fine.

When I made my first brew, I tried to follow both the kit’s instructions and the recipe, which confused me to no end. Ultimately, I ended up with a lackluster beer and unsure of just what went wrong. Follow the recipe.

You will begin with cleaning and sanitizing every piece of equipment that will touch the Wort after the boil. Then you will steep specialty grain in a pot of water for 15-20 minutes or so, depending on the recipe. You will bring the pot to a boil, then add the malt extract and bittering hops. Throughout the 60 minute boil, you will add more hops and any special ingredients. After the boil, you’ll cool off the wort in an ice bath of some sort. I used to just use cold water, ice and ice packs in my sink. Once the Wort has cooled down, enough so the bottom of the pot is cool to the touch, you will transfer it to the fermenter, and cap it with an airlock after pitching the yeast. Stick it somewhere dark and let it sit for two weeks. Then you bottle. Then you wait two more weeks and drink. (Times may change depending on style of beer)

Congratulations, you’re a home brewer! In posts to come, I’ll talk about what comes next after your first brew, go into depth into the various stages of the process and throw up a glossary of the various terms that are always thrown around in home brewing.

Thanks for reading, now go enjoy a beer.

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