Author Topic: Advice on teaching someone to brew.  (Read 803 times)

Offline bigchicken

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Advice on teaching someone to brew.
« on: March 13, 2013, 10:38:35 AM »
This weekend I'll be helping someone brew a 5 gallon extract batch for the first time. They've never watched a brew session either. They jumped in and bought a good equipment kit and they're super excited to get started. Any advice of how I should help him during the process? I'm self taught and would not necessarily want him to struggle like I did at first, but I don't want to take away from the self learning process either. Any advice you can give will be appreciated.
TJ Cook
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In bottles: One Fruit Fly Saison, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale, Snow Eater Winter Warmer

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Advice on teaching someone to brew.
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2013, 10:45:01 AM »
I think it's really going to be up to him in terms of how much up front help he wants.

I recently tought a friend to brew and I asked him how he wanted to go about it.

So we started with a session just talking over the basic process and all the things to watch out for that I have come across so far. Then he asked questions and I attempted to give good answers.

then he built the recipe (he is a bit of a DIYer but a kit removes this step) and asked questions about this as he did. I looked over the recipe as he finished and asked if he wanted critique he did so we went over what I thought of the recipe. In this step it's important to remember that it's his beer and your advice should be couched in a 'This is what I would do because x...' format. Let him decide on his own if he wants to do it.

Then the brew day and I just hung out with him. helped lift heavy things and kept an eye on the brew day as it progressed so I could catch steps he might have missed.

Most important is to help your friend RDWHAHB (bring some of yours to this first brew day)

Don't get frustrated if he doesn't take all your advice and resist giving critique unless he asks for it.

after it's done sit down and drink a couple with him and see if he wants to go over the final product and ideas you have for changes/improvements.
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Offline Bruce B

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Re: Advice on teaching someone to brew.
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2013, 11:27:32 AM »
I would suggest making sure that the first recipe is something simple like a brown ale, red ale, low to mid gravity stout.  Something that they can have a good chance of success at and get their feet under them. 

Next just decide if he wants to do it all himself with input from you or you do some things and he assists.  I'm betting you'll work this out pretty easily.

Finally, keep a few things in your car that typically help you through your brew day.  That way if the opportunity exists to improve something you can easily grab it and introduce it.

Best of luck!
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Offline AmandaK

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Re: Advice on teaching someone to brew.
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2013, 11:38:12 AM »
It really depends on the person. I've taught several people how to brew, usually on my system, but the best students are those who watch a brew day before they get into it personally.

My fiance' is a good example for this. He watched me brew a couple times, then decided he wanted to help (e.g. cleaning and the occasional hop addition), then decided he wanted to brew on my rig by himself. He asked me to supervise and give direction when needed, but he handled an all grain brew pretty well with little interaction from me. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, when he brewed his first extract batch on his very own system, he was like a seasoned pro - knocked it out in 2 hours with no problems. I was there to give helpful tips and tricks, but I mostly just sat and watched. :)
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Offline Jeff M

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Re: Advice on teaching someone to brew.
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2013, 12:21:31 PM »
I have taught several of my friends the homebrewing process via example and couching and i think the biggest thing to keep in mind is to KEEP IT SIMPLE.  Dont go off into longwinded speeches about how alpha acids in hops effect the preservation of beer if they ask why hops are in beer, give them soemthing short and sweet, and if they have questions they can ask come complicated questions as they go.  Dont do things for them, stand near them beer in hand and tell them what they should be doing during this step, and why.

I also tell all my friends that they need to ask questions, because there is no way i will be able to feed them all the information the want to know without asking.

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Offline BrewArk

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Re: Advice on teaching someone to brew.
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2013, 03:26:07 PM »
I usually like to start a noob out w/a kit.  Then I hang around, drink beer & answer questions.  Then they feel like they can do it w/o me just by following the instructions on their next kit.  When they've made a few drinkable beers it gets to the "let's nerd out on homebrewing" phase.  :)
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Offline bigchicken

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Re: Advice on teaching someone to brew.
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2013, 05:29:06 PM »
Thanks for all the replies. I'm lucky in that he got a setup from Northern Brewer along with an extract kit there. I was surprised to see he even got an auto-siphon. I wish I'd had that when I started!


Then the brew day and I just hung out with him. helped lift heavy things and kept an eye on the brew day as it progressed so I could catch steps he might have missed.

Most important is to help your friend RDWHAHB (bring some of yours to this first brew day)

Don't get frustrated if he doesn't take all your advice and resist giving critique unless he asks for it.

after it's done sit down and drink a couple with him and see if he wants to go over the final product and ideas you have for changes/improvements.

I think this is great advise. I think he'll feel more confident just knowing he has someone to bounce ideas off of if he gets stumped. I also have my travel cooler already sitting out with a homebrew selection for him to try.



Finally, keep a few things in your car that typically help you through your brew day.  That way if the opportunity exists to improve something you can easily grab it and introduce it.

Best of luck!

That's an excellent idea. I'm not sure that he'll have every little thing he should have. I may throw a couple things in my truck, just in case.

Again, I appreciate all the replies. This is great stuff!
TJ Cook
Proud paying member of the AHA since 2013.

Fermenting: NOTHING!
In bottles: One Fruit Fly Saison, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale, Snow Eater Winter Warmer