Starting any new pursuit is hard, starting home brewing, however, can be especially tricky with the sheer amount of technical jargon and intricacies. It doesn’t have to be especially hard however and that is what I want to discuss in the article. What is the best way to start home brewing.
Believe me, home brewing isn’t really that hard, it takes a short time to learn the basics. When you get into the hobby and you read a little bit about different processes and ingredients it all starts to make sense. You get to that point and take it for granted that most people know hardly anything, about how to even get started home brewing. The whole purpose of this website is to help me, as well as you, understand brewing in a greater depth. I started home brewing around 10 years ago, if I was to begin again, though, what would best way to start home brewing?
How To Start Home Brewing?
Reading or doing, people like to learn in different ways. The problem with making beer, however, is there’s a lot of things you can be unfamiliar with. You can easily make a beer kit without any knowledge of what goes into beer. The next part is progressing from making that beer kit to brewing your own beer which requires you to read up a little bit about ingredients, the brewing process, and recipe formulation.
You can start the other way around reading as much as you can, I know some people who read and read and read but keep putting off actually brewing a beer thinking they need to know more. There is a worry when you start reading that there are multiple things that can go wrong, the language around brewing; lauter, wort, adjunct, trub, krausen. It’s easy to get information overload.
I think the ideal path is to take the best of both worlds, familiarise yourself with the basics and brew a beer following the information that was laid out in your small amount of reading. This is exactly how I have laid out the extract brewing guide. When I wrote it, I assumed the reader has only a small amount of knowledge on beer, the article lays out all the basic information you need and gives you exact step by step process to brew your own beer with a couple of recipes to choose from.
This extract brewing guide also forms the basis of the beer recipe kits available in the shop on Home Brew Answers. Starting home brewing by using malt extract, steeped grains, and boiling hops gives you a feel for ingredients without having to learn all the technical aspects you need to all grain brew.
Starting with Beer Kits, Extract Brewing Or All Grain Brewing
I think the vast majority of people start home brewing by using beer kits. They are an ideal way to get started but the quality of the beer kit is really important. The thing with beer kits is the cost has a big affect on the quality.
As a general rule the more you pay the better the beer, I have seen a lot of budget beer kits that have a really high percentage of sugar as the fermentable alongside malt extract. The issue with using large portions of sugar in a beer is it add no flavour only alcohol. It can lead to a dry beer with not much going on in terms of flavour.
Spending a bit more on a beer kit will mean you end up with a better quality beer and you are going to be more inclined to brew more beers in future. If your first ever beer doesn’t taste great you may decide brewing isn’t really for you.
Beer kits can be a little bit boring, though, most kits in the UK are hopped malt extract, you dilute these down with water and then ferment. This is fine but you don’t really get a feel for the brewing process, only fermentation. Beer Kits are obviously the simplest way to make a beer and generally require the least amount of equipment, the barrier to entry is a lot lower to getting your first beer brewed.
Starting All Grain Brewing?
All grain brewing, on the other hand, is at the other end of the spectrum, the barrier of entry is high, you need a fair amount of equipment and the initial cost of the equipment is higher. Along with this, the technical knowledge you need is higher, you can read a lot about all grain brewing and it’s still going to be difficult if you have never brewed before.
Although it’s entirely possible to start out by brewing all grain it’s not a route I would recommend. My second beer I’d ever brewed was an all grain beer and it was a really difficult day, the mash stuck and it was terribly frustrating. The beer ended up being good but the next beer I brewed after that was a malt extract brew. It wasn’t until a little while after that I fully adopted all grain brewing.
Malt Extract Brewing
Extract brewing is my pick for the best method to start out your brewing hobby with. It has the best of both worlds, you get to know individual ingredients. You steep grains and get a feel for what different malts can do to a beer, for example, you boil hops and make different timed additions as well as getting to know how fermentation works. At the same time, you eliminate the need to mash grain so the most technical aspects of all grain brewing are eliminated as well as a lot of more costly equipment.
This is what I have tried to do with the beer kits on sale here. They are developed to make interesting and unique beers without being difficult or require a lot of equipment to actually make. They come with enough instructions that someone who has never brewed before could make the beer but not get bogged down reading. They also make smaller batches of around 16 bottles of beer per brew. This means you get a fair amount of beer but you can brew more often without beer piling up, this helps speed up the learning process because you brew more often.
If I were to recommend the best way to start home brewing it would definitely be extract brewing. If you want to read further on the subject check out the extended guide here. You’ll be up and brewing in no time at all.