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My Biggest Beer Brewing Lessons from 2018

For about a decade I’ve been brewing various concoctions from mead to cider and fruit wine (and, yes, beer extract and wort kits). About a year ago, I received a grain mill for Christmas from my generous and loving partner and I almost immediately bought a BIAB (Brew in a Bag) set up for my move into all grain brewing. This year I have learned that making consistently good beer has it’s challenges.

Some 2018 Beer Lessons Worth Heeding

Beyond the rudimentary truth of obsessive cleaning and sanitisation of all brewing equipment the biggest tip I’d give anybody starting out is to ramp up the temperature of the brewing beer right at the end of secondary fermentation. Just when that airlock appears to be slowing right down to nothing. Why? Well, the yeast is struggling. Simple. It’s been making some heat of it’s own during fermentation and as it gets sleepier it therefore gets a little colder. And you need it not to go to sleep before it finishes the job of cleaning up all the bad stuff.

To that end, I have an electric blanket that helps just ramp the beer up a little right at the end. Makes a lot of difference to the final product. If you’ve got money for temperature control I’d highly recommend going down that road.

The second biggest thing I learned was not to sweat the details. OK so you don’t hit a number, your efficiency is lower (or higher), there’s no need to panic. Slow down, enjoy the process, you’ll still get a decent beer. Just not the planned beer, perhaps. I used to run around like a maniac; after 13 BIAB brews I’m slowing down and enjoying the beer.

A third was moving to liquid yeast starters and making my own yeast bank. I now make a double starter and save one (if required), rather than washing and re-using yeast from the fermenter, or buying completely new yeast. And healthy yeast appropriate to the style makes the beer better. You get different beers from the different yeasts available (multiplied by variant temperatures, of course). So to sum up the yeast issue… I make it rather than buy it and I use and re-use the best available to me, as appropriate.

I think those three things define my progress in brewing for 2018.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I will move into kegging by the end of this year. I’ve had too many years of washing those bottles. I’ve almost hit peak scrub-a-dub-dub.

Brewing Books and Podcasts worth your Attention

One of the great things about brewing beer is you can get by with a little knowledge. Or, you can learn a little science and study a little of the art of brewing and try to make really good beer consistently. That last word is probably key.

There are a short list of beer brewing books that I came by in the last 12 months:

  1. How to Brew … by John Palmer
  2. Modern Home Brew Recipes … by Gordon Strong
  3. Brewing Classic Styles … by Jamil Zainasheff and John J. Palmer
  4. Session Beers … by Jennifer Talley
  5. Austerity! … by Ronald Pattinson
  6. Brew like a Monk … by Stan Hieronymus

The two brewing magazines that I subscribe to:

  1. Brew Your Own
  2. Beer and Brewer

Brewing podcasts worth listening to on a regular basis:

  1. The Brulosophy Podcast
  2. Basic Brewing Radio
  3. Experimental Brewing
  4. BeerSmith Home Brewing Radio
  5. Brew Strong
  6. The Session
  7. The Sour Hour
  8. Dr Homebrew
  9. The Beer Healer Interviews
  10. Master Brewers Podcast
  11. The PicoDudes Podcast
  12. Milk the Funk

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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