If you’re a fan of beer (and who isn’t?), there’s a good chance you might have received a homebrew kit as a gift as some point. For a beer lover, a homebrew kit really is the perfect gift; that is, unless you don’t know how to use it.
Don’t let that Christmas, birthday, Father’s Day, anniversary, or just because gift you received go to waste! Here’s a look at some handy tips that you can use to get the most out of your homebrew kit.
Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize!
We can’t stress it enough… When it comes to brewing beer, sanitation is key! Never, under any circumstances, should you just pop open your kit and start using it; you never know what type of microbes are hanging around, and when those little buggers get trapped inside your beer, you not only run the risk of skunk, but you could also get pretty sick.
To avoid catastrophe, sanitize everything, and we mean EVERYTHING – including your hands! And don’t just use the sanitizer your kit came with (if it came with it); instead, invest in some Star Stan, the best homebrew sanitizer out there. It only costs a few bucks and it will make a world of difference.
Leave Plenty of Room in Your Bag
If you’re doing the “brew in a bag” approach (which most home brewing kits recommend), make sure you leave plenty of room for your grain to move around in the muslin, cheesecloth, or whatever type of bag you’re using. The grains need to be completely surrounded by mash water, so the more room you leave in the bag, the more every grain will be able to soak in the mash water.
Fast-Cool Your Wort
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again (and again and again): Fast-cool your wort! Once the boil is finished, make sure you cool your wort as quickly as you can. Why? – Because wort can become infected by bacteria and wild yeast, and it’s most prone to these infections when it’s 80° or higher, so the faster you chill, the lower the risk of infection. Plus, rapidly chilling your wort will enhance the clarity of your beer and just make it look nicer.
Create a Brew Log
Whether you use a pen and pencil or a software program, keep notes on each brew session. Jot down everything, including the ingredients, the times, and tools, the methods; doing so will allow you to go back and compare notes so if something goes wrong, you can make corrections, and if something goes right, you can repeat the process.