That frothy foam head tickles your lips, the earthy aroma of hops flows up to your nose, and that first taste of a crisp, cool brew hits your palate – and you’re sold. And for some of us, it’s enough to go to our favorite brewery to pick up a growler of the best craft beer in town, but for others the allure of the beer making process is so seductive it can inspire us to try and take on the role of brewmaster. So how do you go from craft beer lover to bonafide homebrewer?
Barley’s very own brewmaster Angelo Signorino, an artist with Columbus’ longest brewing tenure, offers his advice for anyone interested in learning how to homebrew.
1. Visit A Homebrew Shop
The first task on your homebrewing journey should be to visit a homebrew shop or two, and there’s a few reasons for this stop, so make sure to do your homework to find one you’re comfortable with before heading out. This is where you’ll be able to get equipment and ingredients, and if you’re lucky – advice; so you’ll want someone who knows what they’re doing and has a vested interest in helping you succeed. They’ll be able to tell you exactly what to buy and how much of it, as well as give you a general direction of instructions once you get home.
By now most of us know that sanitation is important in any capacity where food and beverages are being handled. But because beer brewing involves yeast, water, and warm temperatures, less than clean equipment can easily become a breeding ground for harmful molds and bacteria. And even if the damage isn’t enough to get you sick, even a small number of unwanted microorganisms can be enough to spoil an entire batch of beer. For a process that takes several weeks to complete, you’d hate to have to lose an entire batch because of dirty equipment.
As far as ingredients go, yeast is by far the most important. Your beer will have the best results with a thriving, pure yeast. And this is where, as we mentioned above, networking comes in handy. Breweries tend to have an abundance of leftover yeast as a byproduct from the fermentation process, so if you’re friendly with any brewery staff, it wouldn’t hurt to ask for some, as well as a few fermentation pointers while you’re at it!
Angelo also recommends joining a local homebrew club as a resource for tips and a collaborative community, which is especially ideal if you’re brand new to the homebrewing game. Additionally, once you’ve managed to create a brew or two, think about entering it into a contest, like Barley’s own homebrew competition or another local one. This is an opportunity for you to get invaluable feedback from experienced brewers and certified judges.
And remember – like most skills, brewing is something that you’ll get better at the more you do it. There’s a lot of science, patience, and art (it’s called “craft” beer for a reason) that goes into brewing, so don’t be discouraged if your first batch doesn’t come out winning all the awards and contests right off the bat. If this is the case, make sure to continue brewing frequently and keeping a record of any tweaks you make to your recipe or process. This helps you keep track of what has and hasn’t worked, and is a great tool for improving your end result.