Even a mild interest in homebrewing has a habit of growing into a full-on passion for the hobby. Beer and ale enthusiasts turn to homebrewing to save money, craft their own unique drinks, and in general be a part of a practice that dates back to the earliest human civilizations. The excitement and enthusiasm associated with this hobby can cause newcomers to get a bit ahead of themselves.
Throughout the journey of learning how to brew beer, everybody will make mistakes. It’s inevitable, and it happens to the best of us. Mistakes are simply part of learning any new craft, whether it’s homebrewing or woodworking.
Frankly, making mistakes are a good thing. They provide you with an opportunity to learn, refine and, ultimately, gain more knowledge on the brewing process. But nobody wants to waste their time, or money. Which is why learning as much as possible about homebrewing is essential for every beginner. Not just to ensure that you’re making the best tasting product, but so you don’t waste too much of your time and money along the way.
The following are some of the common mistakes that beginner homebrewers make. If you’ve done any of these, don’t worry… we all have. But here’s what you need to know, so you know how to avoid them.
1. Failing to Follow Instructions
Experienced homebrewers have one major thing in common — precision.
While there is no shortage of trial and error involved with brewing you still need to have a solid understanding of brewing fundamentals before experimenting. Beginners often fail to make precise measurements of ingredients, typically the result of impatience or failing to carefully read instructions.
Extra sugar may over carbonate a brew, and even recently expired ingredients may sour a batch. Whether you start off with a kit of brewing ingredients or combine ingredients individually, it would be wise to follow your recipe closely and precisely, as well as take notes along the way.
2. Neglecting Temperature Control
Proper temperature control is vital for producing best quality brews. Beginners often fail to monitor temperatures during the fermentation process, which can be affected by a room that is too hot or cold.
The fermentation process increases the overall temperature by as much as 7°F; excessive temperature can increase alcohol content and over sweeten brews. Thermometers are a home brewer’s best friend, so make sure you have one. Yeast packaging will almost always include ideal temperature ranges for both fermentation and storage, as well as other pertinent instructions.
Last not least, beginning brewers should get in the habit of monitoring the wort while it cooks, as it is known to create a big mess when over boiled.
3. Setting Unreasonable Expectations
One would be hard pressed to find an experienced homebrewer that hasn’t produced their share of less than optimal batches — particularly when they were just starting off. Bad batches happen. It is simply a part of the hobby.
Believe me, you should’ve tasted my first attempts at brewing beer. No really… it was that bad.
This is why you should take plenty of notes documenting what you did during the process, as well as possibly what you could better. Make these changes: refine, perfect and try again.
There are always intangible factors during the process, even when one follows the directions to a tee.
But on the flip side, you’ll quickly realize that your early batches are getting better, especially when you start off with beginner-friendly homebrew recipes.
Remember: Mistakes Happen. Practice Makes Perfect.
Successful homebrewing comes down to having patience, following instructions, using the proper ingredients, and understanding one’s limitations. I would recommend that any new brewer take advantage of every resource they have available to them.
Whether it is a simple book about brewing or reading in-depth tutorials, or joining a homebrew club, it’s wise to pick the brains of anyone that can offer you some insight.
Most importantly, like all hobbies, brewing is supposed to be fun. Hopefully, avoiding the mistakes listed above will help keep this hobby as rewarding as it should be