Brewing Beer: My Own Getting Started Story
Instead of buying a brew kit, like is so popular among budding brewers, I decided to throw together a starter set myself. My goal was to reduce both costs and space usage. Most kits come with 5-gallon fermenters, but this was simply too big for my already cramped apartment space. Additionally, my search led me to my local homebrewing store, MoreBeer!, which way outcompetes Amazon in terms of pricing. I had a lot of fun purchasing everything I need there, as well as shopping around for new ingredients. The staff is quite helpful, and their selection is nothing short of awesome.
I won’t go into the process of making beer here, so if you’re interested in learning how to brew, take a look at my How To Get Started Brewing Beer page. Instead, I’ll focus on some of the things I learned with my first few batches.
My first beer was a simple amber ale made from dry extract. I stumbled along quite a bit since this was my first time, but the beer turned out drinkable. The biggest mistake I made was pitching the yeast too early before the wort had adequately cooled. I ended up with some banana and strawberry aromas, but those eventually dissipated when carbonation finished. The next biggest mistake was mis-scaling the recipe. I added too much malt so it came out a bit sweet, though that didn’t stop me from finishing my glass.
My second beer was almost identical to the first in recipe, but I got to try steeping grains in addition to extract for the first time. I was surprised how much color and flavor you get out of so little grain. However, as you noticed that my first batch didn’t come out perfect, I kind of panicked when I realized that the first batch was too sweet. In an attempt to save the second batch, I added 25% more water while it was fermenting. Then, I immediately regretted my decision as I was worried that I had watered it down too much as well as having disturbed the fermentation process. To my surprise, this batch came out tasting amazing. The color was a deep orange, the beer was well bodied, packed with interesting flavors, and had no off flavors that I could detect. I’ll definitely be recreating this recipe in the future (or at least trying to, consider that mistakes were made!).
For my third beer, I decided to try a pale ale. As I researched recipes, I noticed something odd. Some were so close to the amber ales that I made previously that I started to wonder what the difference was. Interestingly enough, I found out that the only real differences between amber ales and pale ales is appearance (pale ales are lighter in color) and hop content (pale ales tend to have more hops). Now this seemed like the perfect progression, so I modified my existing amber recipe to use light extract rather than amber extract and up’ed the hops. This batch is just finishing up its carbonation, so I’ll make an update once I’ve tried it out!
[Image of Third Batch Coming Soon!]