5 Tips for Home Brewing Beer

Today, I thought we’d switch it up and share a guest post all about home brewing from Gizelle Lachey. If you’re like me and have an avid home brewer in your home, you’ll want to write down some of these tips (and book recommendations) so you’re ready for the holiday season.

Grab a pint and let’s get started!

5 Tips for Home Brewing Beer
Last May, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed a bill legalizing home brewing, making it the last state in the union to do so. Today there are more than 1 million people who brew their own beer, according to the American Homebrewer’s Association. Believe it or not, brewing beer is a fairly simple process that requires only time, a little space, and perhaps a how-to beer book to get the job done. But keep these five tips in mind to ensure a smooth final product that won’t dent your wallet.
Craft Beer for the Homebrewer
Keep Your Equipment Up To DateNowadays, you can buy complete kits with a small brew pot, strainer, and even the rolling pin to crush the grains. But before you break the seal on the box, determine whether you are going to brew beer this one time or make it a hobby. Those in the latter situation can save a lot of money by starting off with a large 9 gallon pot, as opposed to a 3 gallon one with a kit. That way you’re not paying to constantly upgrade to the next size up. Splurge on a high-quality chiller in the beginning as well.

Sanitize RegularlyOnce your beer starts to cool, anything it comes in contact with must be 100 percent sterile. Bacteria are most active during that period immediately after cooling and before the yeast starts the fermentation process. In fact, an immersion chiller is a great investment to not only speed the cooling process, but lower the chances of contamination. It will also improve your beer’s clarity. Whether you prefer bleach or iodophor for sanitation, don’t be shy with it before letting your beer come in contact with anything.

Keep Your Hands To YourselfOops. You dropped your thermometer into the wort. Instinct may tell you to simply reach in and grab it, but don’t expect to use the wort to make beer afterwards. No matter how clean you think your hands are, one second of skin exposure in the wort dramatically increases the chances of contamination. You can expect a fruity-tasting finished product, which is a sure sign of a polluted brew. Always have a just-in-case pair of tongs soaking in sanitizer solution handy, just in case.

Simple Ingredients, Simple Process

It is often the downfall of beginners to use specialty malts for their very first brew. Stick to the basics until you’ve completed a few batches of beer and made some mistakes along the way.

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Keep it simple: crush the grains, steep, boil, air-lock fermentation bottles, cool the wort, strain it into the bottles, pitch the yeast, wait for fermentation, prime, and drink. You can experiment once you have the process down.

If You Decide To Keg…The most important aspect, again, is sanitation. More than likely the keg will be used, so use a no-rinse sterilizer solution and run it through all the lines and replace the O-rings. Of course, make sure you have a refrigerator large enough to hold the keg, as you do not want your beer to go from cold to warm and back repeatedly.

Looking for the perfect brewing book? We’ve got you covered. Here are some of our favorites. Stay tuned—coming in March 2014, we’ll be hosting a Beer Book Month where we’ll share recipes, stories, interviews, swag, and much more.
Craft Beer for the Homebrewer
Pick up Craft Beer for the Homebrewer today!
As the craft beer craze continues to sweep the nation, more and more people are deciding to try their hand at creating their own perfect brew. In Craft Beer for the Homebrewer, beer writer and certified cicerone (think sommelier for beer) Michael Agnew merges the passions of consumption and creation into one definitive guidebook, designed for the craft beer lover who also happens to be a homebrew enthusiast. Agnew presents dozens of recipes adapted by craft brewmasters for the homebrewer to make in his or her own kitchen, basement, garage, or patio. Based on the actual production beers of featured microbreweries, these recipes cover the entire range of beer styles—ambers and pales, IPAs, stouts and porters, Irish and Scottish ales, Belgians, and wheats—representing craft breweries from across the United States. Each recipe is accompanied by full-color photography, an ingredient list, instructions for both the mash and extract brewer, and historical and anecdotal notes about the brewery that provided it. Agnew prefaces the book with an introduction to the craft beer industry, briefly discussing the major ingredients and required equipment that homebrewers will encounter inside. With its meticulous selection of delicious beer varieties, Craft Beer for the Homebrewer offers a beautifully designed collection of microbrews for the homebrewer on the cutting edge of the craft beer scene.
The Great Northeast Brewery Tour
Pick up The Great Northeast Brewery Tour today!

As craft brewing becomes increasingly inventive, with new beers demonstrating remarkable complexity, one region of the United States is particularly notable for its fascinating brewing scene: the Northeast. New England and the Mid-Atlantic boast some of America’s most interesting craft breweries—there, beer lovers can discover exceptional brews, lively taprooms, spectacular views, and many other qualities that make the Northeast a must-visit region for anyone interested in craft brewing. In The Great Northeast Brewery Tour, beer expert Ben Keene introduces readers to sixty two of the most incredible breweries in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. Breweries like Allagash Brewing in Portland, Maine, and Smuttynose Brewing Company in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, allow visitors to tour the facilities, offering an inside look at how great beers are created. Places such as Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York, where visitors can try delicious Belgian food to accompany Belgian-style ales, and Harpoon Brewery in Boston are surrounded by stunning landscapes. Each brewery discussed is unique and special, much like the region’s brewing heritage.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer
Pick up your copy of The Home Brewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer today!

Raise a glass to vintage beer! Treat yourself to a tour through time with this historical collection of beer recipes from 1800 to 1950. Within these pages, you’ll discover timeless recipes, along with drink profiles and tales of how these tasty brews became a part of the evolution of beer. Each chapter delves into a different style of beer: porter, stout, pale ale, mild ale, stock ale, burton ale, scotch ale, brown ale, dinner ale, light ale, table beer, and more, and explores the history of each style with recipes representative of different periods in time. Whether you choose to adapt the recipes to suit your palette or recreate them, you’ll bring history to life with each brew you make. Learn how beer has evolved over the last two hundred years and how you can easily recreate authentic recipes right in your own home.