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5 Things Homebrewing Taught Me About Beer


There's a huge difference between brewing mediocre beer and brewing good beer. Next time you sip, pay attention to these 5 key factors that distinguish quality suds.

Brewing beer is actually very easy. Warm up some water, add malt, hops, and yeast and then wait a few weeks and you’ll have some sort of beer. However, making good beer is a different story entirely. If you try your hand at homebrewing and you’ll likely discover a new appreciation for well made beers in these five ways.

1. Malt bills aren’t as simple as they look. When you start homebrewing, you’ll often start with kits that include prefabricated malt syrup rather that using whole grains like the pros. When you make your first extract-only home brew, you’ll find yourself missing all the layers of depth you’d get if you’d used all-grains. Using grains impacts more than just flavor; body and texture are all improved with the right malt bill mix.

2. Clear beer doesn’t come easily. Yeast does not want to separate out. You have to cold crash and siphon -- having perfect clarity doesn’t happen on it’s own. Homebrewers don’t always have access to centrifuges or Coors-style micro filtering tech and many are wary about adding gelatin, resulting in many hazy homebrews.

3. Hoppy intensity takes work. Because of the physics of scale, you get less efficiency and less extraction of hop oils on small brewing systems. So making super crazy hopped brews is really, really expensive. Homebrewers don’t get the direct hookup with hop farms like breweries do, so you end up paying extra high retail prices for your hops. And you won’t be able to get the same variety and ultra high quality hops that commercial breweries get to buy.

4. Non-infected beer is an accomplishment. So much can go wrong as a homebrewer. All it takes is an improperly washed piece of equipment and you’ll have a slightly sour, apple vinegar brew with hints of butter. Unless you’re trained in quality control, you might not even be able to describe what’s wrong other than it just tastes “off.”

5. A good Lager deserves a lot of respect. Making one involves a lot of time and fine-tuned flavors for every element. No one ingredient can overwhelm another. Also, since they take longer to make, creating multiple test batches is a much bigger commitment than with other styles.

Despite the built-in difficulties, the pay off of homebrewing is high! You can build lifelong friendships by joining a homebrewing club and bond over the fruits of your labor. And of course, it will open your eyes to the challenges involved in making truly great beer.

Written by Neal Yurick

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