New to Brewing E-Book
My first batch was fermented in the cabinet above my refrigerators. It was a small extract kit, and I followed the instructions as best I could. I had no idea what I was making, or what was involved. I clearly remember double, triple, and quadruple checking the instructions to make sure I wasn’t doing something wrong. There was a lot of information to hold on to, and not a lot of supporting information to lead me in the right direction. The beer came out just fine, but it’s rarely the beer itself that brings new brewers back to the table time and again, it’s the process. As a brewer, you’re joining a long tradition of craftsmen. It’s manual work, a lot of cleaning, but it’s rewarding. Among our numbers, we have chemists, artists, factory-line workers, all ends of the spectrum focusing on one thing: beer. And you may not believe it, but the beer is worth coming back for as well. If there was one thing I’d wish I’d had when I started, it would be something that explained the steps of the process. Not necessarily too in-depth, but something that helped me learn why I was doing things, rather than just when to do them. Enter the New to Brewing Guide.
Using the Guide
For those who missed it, here is a link to the guide.
First, take a look at the checklist on the Needed Equipment + Supplies page of the guide. This short checklist will ensure that you have all of the materials needed to get your brew day moving. This chart is a good point of reference for future batches as well; it will allow you to double-check that all your equipment is present, cleaned, sanitized, and ready to go. Now, you will need to decide whether you’d like to use the All-Grain or the Extract checklist. There is an explanation of All-Grain versus Extract in the guide, but basically, the difference is that All-Grain requires a few more pieces of equipment and you’ll be using grains to get a majority of your fermentables (sugars) for the batch. In contrast, for an extract batch you’ll be using a pre-made extract for those sugars. Next, you’ll start addressing the finer points of the process. If you’re going All-Grain, you’ll start leaning about mashing. If you’re using extract, you’ll learn when to add your materials and why. Whichever method you choose, I’d encourage you to read the entire e-book, always worth learning about the process. After mashing, you’ll find out about the boil. This is where extract brewers will add their extract, and also the step that hops are added in. The boil is followed by the cooling process, something often overlooked but worth exploring. The next step is the step that causes the most anxiety in new brewers, and hopefully the guide can help alleviate some of those fears. Fermentation is a waiting period, but a lot happens in that period that you need to understand (and in many cases, control) in order to get a great product. Bottling is usually the first way that brewers package beer. Many bottle their entire homebrew career, while some switch to kegging almost immediately. The Bottling section will walk you through the bottling process to make sure you don’t over-carbonate or infect your freshly fermented beer.
Finally, everyone’s favorite part, drinking is explained in the back of the packet, or namely, how to treat your bottled beer until that first sweet sip. Remember, even professionals lose a batch every now and then. The point is that you made this. Which is pretty awesome. So share it with friends, and hopefully your next batch is already happily fermenting away! Welcome to the addiction my friends.