When it comes to brewing there are several maxims that I have learned to live by. I’ve decided to call these The Immutable Laws of Brewing because it sounds cool. I’ll add to this list as I discover more truths.
The Immutable Laws of Homebrewing
It’s just beer!
Yes. It is just beer. If you miss a hop addition, your mash temperature is off by a few degrees, or something gets infected, nobody is going to die. Use your mistakes as a learning experience. If you don’t know what they issue was, share your beer with some friends, try to figure out what happened, and try not to make the same mistake next time. A mistake can also help you discover something new and delicious.
- It’s my beer. I can do whatever I want to it.
It’s good to get people’s opinions on your recipes, but don’t let them tell you what you can and can’t do. It’s your beer. If you want to try something, do it. If it turns out badly you will have learned something. In my experience the naysayers are often wrong. You may stumble upon something you really enjoy.
- If you keg your beer, it is never too late to adjust your beer until it’s gone.
Contrary to what some will say, you can in fact make big changes to your beer post fermentation. While it is too late to make changes to the grain bill, adding hops or adjuncts to your beer can allow you to get the final product closer to what you were shooting for or make a beer that you don’t enjoy better. Does your most recent IPA lack hop aroma? Dry hop the keg. Not enough IBUs or hop flavor? Boil an ounce of hops on the stove for half an hour or so and top off the keg. Not enough vanilla in your vanilla stout? Add some more. Be strategic about things but with experience you can make improvements.
- Never let anyone else tell you if you like a beer or that your choice is wrong.
Different people have different tastes and therefore like different things. For example, I’ve never had a kolsch that I’ve liked. I’ve got friends that love them. I’m not wrong and neither are they. If you enjoy the beer, drink it. If you don’t, then don’t have another one. Also, berating your friends because they enjoy certain mass market beers doesn’t win them over to your side.
Beware of having too much beer or liquor on brew day. i.e “No absinthe! No tequila!”
Brewing beer and tasting beer go hand in hand. Sometimes other beverages make appearances on brew day as well. Be careful. Have fun when you brew but remember that brewing requires you to devote a certain amount of attention to the craft. Missed hop additions and sanitation mistakes don’t help you make great beer.
- Tasting beer makes you a better brewer.
The more beer you taste, the better beer you will be able to make. Learn about styles. Try and duplicate flavors that you taste. Learn to detect off flavors. Make great beer.