By Scott Butchart // April 21, 2018
There are many ways folks get into homebrewing, be it receiving a homebrew kit as a gift, wanting to try their hand at a new pastime, or just plain tired of paying too much for beer (here’s looking at you, college students). Regardless of the reason, the hobby of homebrewing is a great one to have which perfectly melds art and science. Here are a few tips to get started.
RESEARCH is the first step for sure. Spend some time looking through a few online sites or books to get your head wrapped around the science and the process of brewing. Whether you want to go extract or all-grain right out of the gate, John Palmer’s first version of How to Brew is the first resource for lots of beginners and has everything you need to know to get started. The American Homebrewers Association has been around for a long time, has 40,000+ members and offers a tonne of resources regardless of your experience level. Finding a group of like-minded, passionate individuals who already make homebrew will most certainly increase your interest , which leads us to…
HOMEBREW CLUBS are, generally speaking, one of the best resources for developing and honing the hobby. The knowledge of a group of regular citizens who have homebrewed for a while is almost priceless. Doctors, lawyers, tradesmen, scientists…it takes all sorts and benefits because of the diversity. If you have one in your area and aren’t a complete introvert you should be a member. Don’t worry that the first homebrew you make/made sucked, that’s why you have a group of people there to help you along. They whole point is to grow the hobby and make friends along the way. If you don’t have one in your area, there are loads of places online as well. HomeBrewTalk is a well known site with a huge forum to search through, as well as recipes and reviews. Getting together with other homebrewers is HOW homebrew clubs come about, and they’re pretty easy to get going (especially with the help of the CHA!). Check out our homebrew directory to find a local homebrew club!
LOCAL HOMEBREW SUPPLY STORES, or LHBS for short, are run by people that are generally passionate about the hobby (if they weren’t, they would not be in business long). Most store owners and staff are a huge resource for beginners with years of brewing themselves, as well as getting feedback from their patrons. With your purchase of a standard kit, you tell a local small business to continue to offer high quality ingredients, fresh yeast and hops, and equipment you almost certainly want down the road. Without brick-and-mortar shops we certainly wouldn’t be where we are now with homebrewing
COMMERCIAL BREWERIES often have homebrewers (past or current) at the helm in the brew house. While they are almost always to busy for a homebrewer to just drop in, asking the brewers if they can give sometime to share a beer you buy them and chat isn’t a bad idea either. They can give you depth of experience, what you need to worry about, and what not to.
If you’ve read this article this far, you’re going to start homebrewing. I’m almost willing to put money on it. It’s one of the most fulfilling hobbies you can do, utilizing science, art, and cooking all at the same time. You don’t need a turnkey electric brewery to get going, or a lot of space. Loads of people brew in 600 square foot apartments with little more than a pot and a carboy. Stressing about the minutia won’t help, neither will sitting on your hands. Just go grab a starter kit and do it!
In the famous words of the godfather of homebrewing Charlie Papazian, “Relax, Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew”.