When I first started brewing, I had no idea what I was doing. I made the worst possible beer anyone could make. But, I was impressed with it because then I knew how to do it.
But, you donít stay impressed very long if you keep making skunk after skunk. So, I had to start experimenting with different recipes to find my taste. Obviously, I have different tastes. I like to drink dark beers and flavored beers in addition to my regular beers Iíve been drinking over the years.
Just finding your taste can be difficult. But if you try a few things and make them different each time, you can eventually find a flavor you like. Keep track of the different ingredients you use and make notes of the outcome. Youíll hone your scope down to the beer that says wow to your taste buds. And thatís really what all of us home brewers are trying to find. At least, that was the reason I started. I wanted the beer that spoke to only me. Now, itís a favorite with my friends too.
When you are brewing your beer, there are variations you create on your own. There are also variations that are created uncontrollably by what you do or donít do. All you should focus on is what you can control. Different timing and different heats. Different ingredient variations. You can ruin a batch playing around with ideas. But, you can also come up with the best beer youíve ever tasted. So, letís take a look at some ideas.
First letís run through a quick look at the brewing process. Barley malt is soaked in hot water. The malt sugars that are released are then boiled with hops. Yeast is now added once the wort is cooled. The batch is left to ferment.
What happens during that process as you may have noted is that there is timing with the boils and fermentation. Also, there are different kinds of malts, hops and yeast that you can get to change the flavor. Not mentioned is a new trend of adding different flavorings like fruits and spices that can turn a beer into a lime, a raspberry, a ginger or a cinnamon. Letís look at some lager recipes and then weíll move through some other common styles.
When adding malts, youíll want to use several different kinds like Northwest extract, Light Dry, Munich and Klages. Several different hops include Hallertauer and Nugget. Then, youíll want to use a Danish yeast. The Munich and the Klages are mashed together after you start your yeast. Then, add the extract and the hops. Boil at about 150 for an hour and a half. Cool to 70 and pitch your yeast. When you see activity in the airlock after a few hours, refrigerate at 40 for about a week. This is about the time you want to rack to the secondary and chill for two more weeks.
Without going into every lager recipe you can try, change the malts and the hops. Boil for less time or more time at hotter or cooler temperatures. Increase your fermentation time or increase the primary and keep the secondary the same. Each variation, every change can produce a different style like a pilsner or a wheat lager.
But for a stout, youíll want several pounds of a dark malt extract, roasted barley, and black patent malt. Then, use bittering hops and itís up to you if you want to add a smidgen of aromatic hops. Use ale yeast. Once youíve brewed your first batch and gave it a taste, make another and change your malt to a different dark or your hops to a Northern Brewer or something else. Youíll soon find yourself making a porter or a mega stout.
One day, youíll have honed your brewing techniques and flavors to the ones you enjoy the most. Youíll know exactly how much malt to add and what different kinds suit you best. Youíll learn different techniques of adding hops. Plus, youíll have your boiling and fermenting variations down to an art science. Just have fun with it and youíll always enjoy brewing beer.