Tag Archives: brewing beer

tips for the home brewer (or, how I’m pretty sure I messed up my brother’s beer)

My brother and I recently brewed beer.  As novice brewers, we used a kit and followed all the instructions carefully, but we still encountered road blocks and ended up learning more about how to mess up beer than how to make it.  If brewing beer is an art — nay, a craft — then we’re pretty sure that what we made is the beer equivalent of a finger-painting.

I’ll let my brother, the beer enthusiast, post instructions and illustrative photos on how to home-brew beer.  To compliment his post, here are my tips for the aspiring home brewers:

1.  It’s important to keep sterile everything that will come in contact with the beer after it is cooked and before it begins the fermenting process.  That being said, you will quickly realize how unsterile you and your home environment are.  What, you sterilized all the tubing, spoons, thermometers, etc., in a big bucket of sterilizing solution?  That’s great, but what will you do when (a) your natural tendency is to put the spoon down on the counter (dammit!), (b) you forget that you’re not supposed to put the spoon on the counter and do it again (dammit!), (c) you touch the end of the spoon with your unsterile hand (dammit!!!), (d) you need both hands and now you gotta put the spoon down somewhere (DAMMIT!!!) . . . you get the idea.  Keep a big bowl of sterilizing solution on hand to dump the tools in as you work so that you can keep them sterile and resterilize them when you inevitably “contaminate” them (over and over again).

2.  If your plan is to cool the pot of boiled wort in a kitchen sink filled with ice water, make sure your brother’s roommate did not throw out the stopper for the sink.  Just saying.

3.  Don’t touch the inside of the fermenter bucket with your unsterile hands.  Don’t touch the inside of the wort pot while the wort is cooling.  Don’t touch the bottom of the fermenter stopper just before your brother plugs it into the fermenter.  You know what, either sterilize your hands or just keep back already, Carrie!!

4.  Watch the heat and stir the wort frequently if you’re using a pot made of a super-conductive material like aluminum.  Alternatively, tout your finished product as having “smokey” qualities, certainly not a scorched flavor . . .

5.  Set your expectations low for the final product, which you won’t get to taste until the beer finishes the four-week fermenting process.  Plan to try your beer on a Friday night so that if it makes you sick you will have two days to recover.  Actually, go ahead and put in for a day off the following Monday.