I looked around the web and found many great tips for those just starting out and for veterans at the art. I took the best of the best and compiled this little list. Hope it helps!
10. Don’t Guess. Brewing is as much a science as it is an art, so why gamble when there are free tools like Beersmith out there to help you get what you want right.
9. Make investments. You may have started with a kit, but if you really enjoy it put in a little money to improve the process. Remember it takes the same amount of time to brew 10 gallons as it does to brew 5. You’ll also save money in the long run.
8. Mature your beer longer. This is probably the hardest tip to follow. Some beers are better when they are young, but most improve with some age. If anyone knows the secret of saving beer instead of drinking it, let me know.
7. Control fermentation temps. This is especially important for lager yeast strains, but it is something to always try your best at with ales too. If you don’t have a fridge with a temperature control you can find a dark, cool spot in your house that doesn’t get much fluctuation in temperature. You’ll need the temperature controlled fridge if you want to make a descent lager though. Yeasts are fickle with temperature changes and fermenting at high temps can cause off flavors.
6. Cool Wort Quickly. This increases the fallout of proteins and tannins that can negatively effect the beer. An immersion chiller is an inexpensive investment, or you could spend more for a plate chiller and cool things even quicker.
5. Aerate Wort. Yeast works best in an aerobic (oxygenated) environment. You can do this by pouring the cooled wort into fermentation vessels for smaller batches. Using an electric drill with a paint stirrer or pumping in pure oxygen with an aquarium pump are other methods.
Oxygen in beer is undesirable except at one point (and only one point) in the brewing process. That lone point is when the post-boil wort has been chilled down to fermentation temperature, but before the yeast has been pitched into it.
Oxygen is essential for yeast growth and reproduction.
4. Make yeast starters. Most dry yeast should be re-hydrated and while some liquid yeasts are ready to pitch others need a starter. Boil a pint (1/2 quart) of water and stir in 1/2 cup of DME. Cool it down and put it in a sterlized container and shake it up. Put an airlock or plastic wrap over the top and let it build up for a two or three days. Don’t pour the starter in the wort, only the yeast slurry. These two should seperate in the fridge. John Palmer has detailed instruction.
3. Keep Records. Print out your recipes from Beersmith, Beertools, or whatever you use. Keep a notebook. When you make an awesome brew you want to be able to repeat it again. I learned this lesson the hard way.
2. Don’t drink while brewing. This one is sometimes hard to do as well. You don’t want your process to compromised so try to keep the beer drinking as a reward for when the brewing is complete.
1. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize! I think all my brewing buddies will agree this is the most important rule. The quickest way to ruin a batch of beer is to infect it. There are lots of options out there. Make sure everything is clean and sterlized. I suggest using Star-San for sterilizing. It is no rinse.
There are other tips that should go without saying like using fresh ingredients and as Charlie Papazian’s motto says, “Relax! Don’t Worry. Have a homebrew!” You should follow that link and add his book to your library too.
There are many more tips to making better brew out there. Any lessons learned the hard way out there? Why don’t you share some of your tips in the comments?