Ask a Brewer

If you have questions or comments about making beer, please leave a comment. I will answer all questions as accurately as I can.

If you have any insights to share on any topic, or you can answer a question better than I can, please feel free to weigh in!

Scroll down to ask your question in the ‘leave a reply’ area.

19 thoughts on “Ask a Brewer

  1. I really enjoy brewing my own beer from home and I would like to know what you consider to be the best kind of beer kit to get started making a nice quality beer. I have tried some standard kits from my local store and it all tends to have a similar “home made” taste. Is there a really good quality kit that I can buy so that I can get a really good end product? Or is there something I can do to enhance my beer?

    • GREAT question Andrew.

      Any (good) homebrew kit will do – check out my equipment page for details – but the difference is process and ingredients. In fact, that homebrew starter kit you used last time is very capable of producing great winning beers.

      Check out this post for details on how to take easy brewing for beginners to the next level of awesome beer: How To Improve Kit Beer

  2. First off I’d just like to say….”I LOVE BEER!” But not just any beer, I like high quality stouts, deep reds and Hoppy IPA’s (Coop F5 is one of my favorites if that tells you anything).

    I’m writing you today because I do have a big interest in beginning to brew my own and would love to one day turn that into a business. So my question to you is, what is the best way to begin learning how to brew your own (considering the types of beers I listed above that I would be interested in brewing myself) and then also, what would be the best way to begin building a business around my own home brew collection once I’ve begun?

    All The Best,
    Jeremy David Wilson

    • Great question Jeremy, and one asked by many fledgling brewers.

      Learning to brew will require some reading material – I suggest “How to Brew” by john palmer and at least one recipe book – “Beer Captured” is a great one because it allows for all skill levels. You can find the books on Amazon and a guide to buying equipment on this page.

      You’ll want to increase through the levels quickly – I recommend you do 2 or 3 kit beers to get the hang of fermentation and sanitization, move on to partial mash brewing and do another 5 or so beers (the more the better while you experiment.) Then, take the plunge and get an all-grain setup.

      Once you are confident with your techniques and you know the right jargon and technical specs, it’s time to start learning about commercial grade brewing techniques (not to mention complex equipment.) Start introducing your self to as many microbreweries as you can, and offer to spend some time as a volunteer brewer. You’ll end up doing a lot of cleaning and dirty work in your spare time, but you’ll gain an understanding of how to brew commercially.

      The next part is deciding what path to take: Do you set up a brewery and run it yourself? You may choose to simply invest in a brewery and let a head brewer run it. You could even develop a recipe and have it made by a contract brewery, and you just focus on beer sales. Or, you might decide to open a home brew business, supplying equipment or ingredients.

      The later is possibly a safer option, but it doesn’t involve as much ‘hands-on’ brewing.

      My final piece of advice is this, as given to me by the Young Henry’s brewing team: If you want to make a million dollars by brewing beer, you need to start out with two million dollars.

  3. What do you think of fermentation kits that turn fruit juice into “alcohol” like what is/ or used to be/ available on websites like thinkgeek? Are there any, relatively cheap kits available to legal-drinking-age beer lovers who want to make their own beer?

    • Hi Vic,

      A very basic kit for ‘fruit beers’ (cider and similar beverages) is identical to the basic beer fermentation kits. Please take a look at this page for more detail:

  4. I’m not a brewer and I know nothing about it. It’d be interesting to see a brief history about it at the beginning of the page or a brief introduction about the process. It wouldn’t have to be a whole lot of information as I know you have another page that outlines the brewing process but just a brief one would add a lot to this page 🙂

  5. oK, so I have heard of people getting together for beer brewing parties, and it brings up a curious question. I guess I thought brewing beer was similar to brewing wine (sorry about the wording, it sounds funny, do you actually brew wine or is there another word for creating it) Anyway, ny question is how long does it really take to brew a good home-made beer?

    • Hi Debra,

      Valid question. The brewing process is actually only referring to the part where you mix everything with hot water, so technically brewing is complete in just a few hours. If you are asking how long it takes to make a beer, the answer is anywhere from 7 days to a couple of years – depending on your recipe.

  6. I always wanted to try brewing my own beer. Here are my questions:
    On average, what sort of percentage of alcohol do you get from your brews?
    Also, what is the bare minumum you would spend on brewing equipment?

    Thanks for the interesting article.
    Hannah.

    • Hi Hannah,

      Alcohol content is totally up to you – if you need help, just ask here and we can help you build a beer based on the strength you desire.

      As for bare minimum spend, unfortunately it really depends on where you live. In Australia, I would put the bare minimum at about AU $80, give or take.

      Cheers,
      Jesse

  7. Loving your website Jesse! and I think your ask a drinker and this ask a drinker brewer post!

    I am pretty set on the beers that I drink and have to admit I wouldn’t consider changing any time soon.

    That being said, the idea of home brewing my own beer does sound very interesting!

    I have seen it done with wine and brandy on friends farms, but never beer.

    What’s the best way for a complete beginner to get started and do I need to spend loads of money upfront, or can I first try with cheaper equipment and then upgrade later?

    • Hi Marc,

      Thanks for your question – I spent a bit of time on vineyards myself when I was much younger.

      I have two articles that I think will really help you out. You don’t need to spend loads on new equipment, but there is some basic stuff that will really make a difference to you.

      -For starting equipment, check here:
      -For making your first beer, read this:

      If you want to take it further and brew beer from scratch, you will need a little extra stuff but you can keep the cost down by checking this out:

      These three articles should be enough to get you started. Check back here if you need any help!

  8. Hey Jesse, I have enjoied your site and am going to bookmark it. I am also going to bookmark Adventures in homebrewing. I really like the Igloo Mash tun. You have a lot of good information here. We have a home brewing supplies store not to far from where I live. I use it for my wine making supplies.

    I have not yet tried to make beer at this time, but am interested in starting. I had a brother-in-law that made beer ,but he had a problem with sediment in the bottles. What can you do about that?

    Thanks again for the information,
    Hillbilly Vapor

    • Hi Hillbilly Vapor,

      Thank you for an excellent question. If you are naturally carbonating your bottles the sediment is unavoidable – you have to pourvery slowly into a glass.

      However, if you are brewing a fair bit (more than once per month) you can invest in a draft beer keg system. You can clear your beer similarly to wine, and force carbonate directly into the kegs! Do check out Adventures in homebrewing for a complete keg setup:

        Click Here

      You can then either serve directly from the keg (super stylish) or you can fill bottles to take with you anywhere you go. Instructions are

        here

      .

  9. This was good information on brewing your own beer. I have a basic kit that I used once and didn’t like the way it turned out. The beer was a little strong for me, but maybe with some practice i will get the hang of it.

    • Hi June,

      Thanks for your comment. That is exactly the same as my first experience, and why I was motivated to eventually become a professional brewer. Please do check out the following easy guide to your first few brews!

      How to Improve Kit Beer

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