Author Topic: First time Homebrewer  (Read 4803 times)

Offline chadjjones89

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First time Homebrewer
« on: March 12, 2013, 07:34:57 PM »
Good evening, ladies and gents,

My name is Chad, and I'm going to attempt my first brew in the next couple of weeks. I've gotten the Beginner's Brewing Kit from Midwest Supplies and will be brewing the Irish Red Ale recipe. I am reading Homebrewing for Dummies (a brewer at Abita recommended it to me a few weeks ago when I visited the brewery) and a friend is bringing me How to Brew by John J. Palmer so I can brush up on the basics before I begin.

I know I'm going to have some snags along the way, but i want to cut down on those as much as possible so I can have a good product my first try. Are there any problems I should beware of or any hints you may have for a newbie? Anything at all would be super helpful.

Thanks!
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: First time Homebrewer
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2013, 08:00:45 PM »
Control your fermentation temperature.  Keep it on the low end of the recommended range.

Skip a secondary fermentation - they are generally not needed, but many books still recommend them.

Rehydrate dried yeast if using it, but don't make a starter.  Make a starter for liquid yeast.  Use an online pitching rate calculator (eg mrmalty.com).

Get a good thermometer.  Trust it, but not too much.

Start your second batch right away.  The first will be gone before you know it.

Most importantly, relax, don't worry, have a homebrew.

Cheers, and welcome to the hobby and the forum.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline jamminbrew

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Re: First time Homebrewer
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2013, 08:32:46 PM »
One thing to add to Dr. Schmidlin's advise:  Good sanitation practices. I use star-san, and I can tell you, don't fear the foam. In small doses, it will not harm your beer.
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Offline garc_mall

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Re: First time Homebrewer
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2013, 10:09:37 PM »
I agree with Tom.

Especially on making sure you make your second batch quickly. You will be so ready to drink your first batch that making a second will distract you for long enough to get your first batch ready to drink.

Also, relax. You will make beer. It will not be the best beer you have ever tasted, but it will be beer. Your next batch will be better. Relax.

Good Luck, and welcome to the obsession.
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Offline brewmasternpb

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Re: First time Homebrewer
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2013, 10:11:38 PM »
One bit of advice I can give: never stop trying to better your beer.  I don't know how many times I hear homebrewers (myself included) say, "I don't do that (insert established brewing practice here) and my beer tastes fine".  Truth is, give it a year, and you won't want to make "fine" beer, you want to make great beer.  Good luck!
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Offline brewmasternpb

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Re: First time Homebrewer
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2013, 10:14:27 PM »
Tom mentions a few of these, but here is a great reference:
http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2012/02/11-mistakes-every-new-homebrewer-makes.html
Dave Malone
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Offline garc_mall

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Re: First time Homebrewer
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2013, 10:19:20 PM »
One bit of advice I can give: never stop trying to better your beer.  I don't know how many times I hear homebrewers (myself included) say, "I don't do that (insert established brewing practice here) and my beer tastes fine".  Truth is, give it a year, and you won't want to make "fine" beer, you want to make great beer.  Good luck!

I agree with this, but caution that when you are trying to better your beer, pay attention to what actually betters your beer and what just sounds like it will better your beer. We talk about how your system may vary because it is true. I also think this is more of a problem for advanced homebrewers as opposed to those on their first 1-10 batches...
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Fermenting: Flanders Red, Saison

Offline brewmasternpb

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Re: First time Homebrewer
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2013, 10:25:28 PM »
I agree with this, but caution that when you are trying to better your beer, pay attention to what actually betters your beer and what just sounds like it will better your beer. We talk about how your system may vary because it is true. I also think this is more of a problem for advanced homebrewers as opposed to those on their first 1-10 batches...[/quote]

This is true, your first 1-10 (1-100 for me) batches are spent figuring your system out.
Dave Malone
The Greater Denver Yeast Infection

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: First time Homebrewer
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2013, 04:14:52 AM »
Choose your water carefully.  If you are going to use tap water then taste it warm.  If you can detect any off flavors in your plain tap water you may want to use distilled or RO water (for the first batch at least). 

If your water tastes good then go ahead and use it.  I put the water I'll need in buckets the night before I brew and let it sit so any chlorine the city adds can gas out.

Relax and have fun!  Follow the recipe that came with your kit.  You'll do fine and the beer will be good.

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Offline tomsawyer

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Re: First time Homebrewer
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2013, 04:51:16 AM »
Theres a free online copy of Palmer's How To Brew.

I'd also check out the BJCP online style guide to read about how styles are supposed to taste.

« Last Edit: March 13, 2013, 04:53:19 AM by tomsawyer »
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First time Homebrewer
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2013, 04:53:13 AM »

Rehydrate dried yeast if using it, but don't make a starter.  Make a starter for liquid yeast.  Use an online pitching rate calculator (eg mrmalty.com).


Always something to debate. ;) You don't really need to rehydrate yeast, especially in low gravity worts, and I would recommend not worrying with rehydrating it if its your first few batches. I would recommend using dried yeast your first few batches, or if you use liquid yeast, pitch 2 or three vials/packs so that you are sure you are pitching enough yeast. Dried yeast is easy to use and one packet of Fermentis dried yeast should have enough active cells to ferment up to a 1.065 batch even without rehydrating.

Have fun and good luck. You save so much money by making it yourself *snicker* ;P
« Last Edit: March 13, 2013, 04:55:37 AM by majorvices »
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First time Homebrewer
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2013, 04:54:36 AM »
Oh, and do yourself a huge favor and pick up a good homebrewing book like Palmer's "How to Brew". Yeah, there's a free online version but you will want the hard copy. Plus it is updated.
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Offline tomsawyer

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Re: First time Homebrewer
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2013, 04:54:39 AM »
If you choose to rehydrate (I personally don't but it is a good idea) don't let it sit in the water (boiled then cooled) for more than 15min.

And yes I own a hard copy of HTB its that good.
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Offline donsmitty

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Re: First time Homebrewer
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2013, 05:38:56 AM »
Tom mentions a few of these, but here is a great reference:
http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2012/02/11-mistakes-every-new-homebrewer-makes.html

Thanks for the link.  I guess I did pretty good on my first 2 batches but need to aerate more and do some homework on pitching yeast for high gravity brews.

Offline erockrph

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Re: First time Homebrewer
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2013, 05:49:47 AM »
#1 - Sanitation - make sure anything that touches your wort/beer is properly sanitized

#2 - Fermentation - pitch the right amount of yeast (stick to dry yeast until you're ready to start making yeast starters), and control your fermentation temperature (mid-60's F is a good temp range for most ales. Keep in mind that fermentation produces heat, and the actual beer temp will be a few degrees warmer than ambient temp)

#3 - Quality Ingredients - use the freshest ingredients you can find. The major online shops do enough volume where you can be pretty confident that their extract and grains are pretty fresh. Keep in mind that crushed grains and liquid extract lose their freshness fairly quick. Don't buy a kit and sit on it for a few months before brewing.

#4 - Take detailed notes - it's hard to know what you did right, did wrong, or want to change for next time unless you know exactly what you did this time. Brewdays rarely go perfectly, especially when you start. There's always room for improvement, even for the advanced brewer.

#5 - Don't overcarbonate - your kit probably came with 5oz of corn sugar for bottle priming. This is usually a bit much for most beers if you use the whole thing. Use an online calculator and measure out the correct amount for the carbonation level you want. Dissolve it in some boiling water and mix it into the beer in your bottling bucket with a sanitized spoon. If it is not mixed in evenly you will have some flat bottles and some overcarbonated bottles. Here is a good calculator I use: http://www.brewersfriend.com/beer-priming-calculator/

#6 - Whatever you do wrong, always remember that malt + yeast = beer. The vast majority of the time you will end up with a tasty brew even if something goes wrong. Ride it out, enjoy your results, and keep in mind that you can probably do it even better the next time.

Welcome to the hobby obsession!
Eric B.

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