2.18.2009

HB 101 Q4: What should a new homebrewer's first recipe be?

This marks the fourth part of a multipart series of posts about the fundamentals of homebrewing. Sure there's books, web pages, pamphlets, kit instructions, forums and all kinds of resources about brewing beer. Why cover it again here? I don't know. Why does your grandpa tell the same stories over and over again? Maybe it has to do with how we do it. Again, the question should you choose to weigh in is...
What should a new homebrewer's first recipe be?
Seriously, should the first attempt be a kit? Should one take the advice of a local homebrew store? Should she email Beer Bits 2 and ask that guy ;-) Clone of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale? How about a Russian Imperial Stout? Keep it simple? Perhaps a good ol' American Lager?

Beer Bits 2 readers tell us what you think! Comment now.

11 comments:

GISBREWMASTER said...

This one is easy. Make what they like!! For me personally I went easy a nice amber ale 2nd beer was my favorite style the IPA.

GISBREWMASTER
Matt C.

Velky Al said...

My first brew is kind of a hybrid. Having read John Palmer's "How to Brew" I decided to ditch the extract yeast, and start off by steeping grains to add flavour to the wort, as well as messing around with the sugar added to the extract - I used Munton's Perfect Pint Dark Mild; light muscovado sugar; Weyermann rauchmalt and Wyeast Scottish Ale yeast. I think it is important to read a few books first, and then jump in - but then that's the way I do most things.

krawdizz said...

I brewed a english style brown ale clone after my one of my favorite imports Newcastle.

Russ said...

My first beer was an extract-with-grains Hefeweizen based on a recipe my local homebrew store gave me. I've since tweaked it and provided the recipe to several friends who used it for their first batch, all with great success (or so they've told me, at least). I think it's an ideal first beer because it's a quick fermenter that tastes best fresh, it's tolerant to a pretty wide range of fermentation temps, and--because it gets most of its flavor profile from the yeast--the use of extracts doesn't really diminish the quality of the final product. The only negative is it's a vigorous fermenter and thus susceptible to fermentation lock blow-outs. Overall, though, it's a great beer to introduce people to the wonderful world of homebrewing.

Ray Merkler said...

I think it's best to start with a kit for your first brew. You're already going to be concerned with getting the process and sanitation right for your first brew day, so not having to worry about the recipe helps to make things easier. After that first brew day, though, go ahead and start writing recipes!

Our first brew was an ESB using a kit from MoreBeer.

Tony said...

I'll agree! Brew something that you like. Look for an easier style and definitely not a lager. My first batch was a bock kit but I used dry ale yeast. Turned out great!

Rich Reuter said...

I went with an American amber ale from a kit my first time out. I think doing a kit the first time out is good since you don't have to worry about which ingredients to buy.

Thomas said...

First brewing experience or first self made recipe? Because there is a major difference. Frankly while someone can do the research to make their first recipe at the start I am inclined to suggest a homebrew made shop kit with steeping grains and extract, give them a few tries to get the process understood, then let them make their own.

I'll agree with Matt in those terms, the beer they want. As having worked in homebrew shops for a while I try to steer people away from Lagers at first, but if they are committed I'll help them regardless what they want to brew.

Daddymem said...

Get a kit and keep it simple. Try brewing a type you like that isn't too complex. I loved Austin Homebrew kits in the beginning because their directions are clear and easy.

Das HausBrauer said...

It depends on the knowledge level and aptitude of the new brewer. But my usual recommendations are...

1. Do an ale. Not that they are any simpler than a lager, but they finish quicker and don't require stringent temperature monitoring.

2. Maltier, more full bodied brews (Pale Ales, IPAs, Brown Ales, Porter, Stouts) are good to begin with as they are more forgiving in regards to off flavors than the really pale and lighter styles (Kolsch, Blondes Ales, Cream Ales...)

3. Go with a reputable LHBS kit or recipe if possible. A local source of knowledge is great and if it's their kit or recipe they can offer more finite troubleshooting if necessary.

4. It's just my humble opinion. That's the great thing about home brewing, there is no one right way to do it.

Adam said...

Das HausBrauer,

Sorry it took so long for me to approve your comment. Just learned how to approve comments under moderation. A feature I enabled recently to handle some comment SPAM I was getting.

Thank you for your comment. Great advice :-)