Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Common Beginner Problems Part 2

Part 2 of my widely viewed (read: never read) Common Beginner Problems

"What should I make for my first beer"

I know what you want to make, a 12% bourbon barrel aged imperial double stout with fruit, maple and hops.  Most beginners want to make the craziest thing for their first beer when the real answer is to do something simple so you can fine tune your system and pick out any flaws.  An ideal first brew in my opinion is a pale ale.  Something not too hoppy so you can pick out fermentation issues, process problems, etc.  A perfect pale ale is the holy grail of many seasoned homebrewers because there's not much to hide behind and finding a balance in the beer is very hard to do.  If you really wanted to learn about your system and brewing, you'd brew the same recipe three times, tweaking each time until you're familiar with everything.  I know this impossible because I went through it and as soon as I finished my first brew I was already on to something else.

"Where can I get information about brewing/equipment"

You can learn anything by doing a quick search on homebrewtalk.com and I'll just about guarantee somebody has had a similar problem to you, if not the same one.  A good overall text source is How To Brew by John Palmer.  I've flipped through this a few times and it's technical enough for a seasoned brewer yet simple enough for a beginner.  Many brewers consider it the Bible of homebrewing.  
If you want to get more technical, the Brewers Association has released a few technical books about brewing or ingredients including Yeast, Hops and the soon to be released Water.  These are for advanced brewers who want to get into the science and technical side of brewing.  You'll still make beer without them.
As far as equipment, search around for a local homebrew shop (LHBS), but if you can't find one there are plenty of online retailers, just do a little price shopping and you can get everything you would ever want.  I like northernbrewer.com, midwestsupplies.com, and morebeer.com.

"Has anybody ever gone pro/do you think about it"

Welcome, you're officially a homebrewer.  Can't stop thinking about recipes?  Do you sit and watch the airlock bubble?  Do you think your fermenting beer is like a child?  Welcome to the hobby, follow down the rabbit hole.

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