Newbie Tips

Advice for a newbie all-grain brewer

A customer emailed recently asking for advice for a newbie all-grain brewer. Some of the advice was specific to his particular circumstances but the majority was based on some hard-won experience over the last dozen or so years.

Feel free to add to this in the comments section...

My advice for a newbie all-grain brewer would be:

  • buy the proper chemicals, StarSan and PBW are the standard, and clean and sanatise your fermenter thoroughly before and after use. Most of your faults will come from an issue in your fermenter rather than your brewing vessels

  • if you can spare the cash, ferment in a temperature controlled environment. This is usually a beer fridge with a temperature controller. Again, most of your faults will come from an issue in your fermenter and a steady, appropriate temperature will be good for your beer

  • get a decent refractometer and learn how to use it, this will help you adjust your recipes 'on the fly' when your efficiency is more or less than expected

  • buy good ingredients and brew as often as you can while taking extensive notes during the whole process,

  • brew the same simple recipe a dozen times when you start brewing. This way you'll be able to pick out which faults are caused by which errors

  • try to brew with more experienced brewers to pick up tips and tricks you wouldn't normally have access to

  • don't take as Gospel what is written online - a lot of the perceived wisdom has more to do with commercial brewing than home brewing

  • join the online brewing communities, in particular and

  • read a few brewing books - I'd recommend John Palmer's 'How to Brew' and Charlie Papazian's 'Joy of Brewing'