“Keep it simple, stupid” or K.I.S.S. is a saying that gets thrown around a lot when you come across things that should be nice and straight-forward, but people want to make more complicated. Home brewing is easily one of those things. My last few posts have been about HERMS and RIMS brewing, growing your own hops, etc. and I’ve realized that we all need a reminder to get back to the basics every once in a while.
That’s why, this week, we’re featuring a guest blogger who is new to the area and new to home brewing, but brings an old message – keep it simple. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re first starting out, so check out the post below from Tim Campbell (@VncentLIFE) on how to keep focused on the basics when you first start brewing.
There is a growing trend to try and push the limits in brewing, but as a new brewer you should focus on one thing: Keeping it simple. The big breweries all had to start with a base recipe. Before Founders could make KBS, they had to make their Breakfast Stout recipe perfect. And before they could make Breakfast Stout, they had to nail down their Stout recipe. The excitement of brewing a Breakfast Stout is understandable, but it takes a lot of practice and batches to get it perfect. For your first and early batches, picking something simple will help you in the long run. I recommend extract batches for very novice brewers. It will help you learn the little tricks of brewing.
A simple base recipe is like a foundation. It is hard to cover up a bad base with adjunct ingredients. If the base recipe for an IPA is off, the addition of more hops won’t fix it—also, I don’t recommend an IPA for your early batches, as the knowledge of specific profiles of each hop variety, and understanding the amounts to use can get tricky.
Also, keep the ingredients simple. One of your goals in brewing should be to be able to replicate the batch again (See the benefit of this in Chris’ post on Homebrew Academy). Don’t get caught up in adding all kinds of ingredients at first, just nail the base recipe then vary it in subsequent batches. When you do add things, keep a written record of each batch, with specific ingredients and when you added them. A simple notepad works great, or you can try logging your notes and recipes in brewing software such as BeerSmith.
Some ingredients are very touchy, and can have adverse affects if not used in the correct method. This becomes even more true when you make the jump to all-grain brewing. You have to figure out how the new equipment will affect your recipes and how different ingredients can affect your process.
One of the best things you can do as a novice brewer is to go hang out at your local homebrew supply store. Talk to the workers. If you have ideas of exotic or novel ingredients, talk to them. They will talk to you about how to add things slowly, that way replicating what will be a great batch won’t be a problem.
Below is a simple recipe to go along with this post. A basic pale ale that anyone can make at home. Few ingredients, few special instructions, but a very solid beer – enjoy!
8.75 lbs pale Liquid Malt Extract (LME)
4 oz amarillo hops
– Boil 1/2 of the LME for the full 60 minutes and add the second 1/2 in with about 15 minutes left in the boil.
– Add one ounce of hops at 45 minutes, one ounce at 30 minutes, one ounce at 15 minutes, and one ounce at 5 minutes
– 60 minute boil, cool to room temperature and pitch one packet of US-05 yeast.
– Ferment for two weeks at 68 degrees, then bottle with corn sugar or keg and ENJOY!