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Homebrewing FAQs

If you're considering getting into homebrewing you probably have a lot of questions.  The absolute best way to get some answers is to talk to someone who already is a homebrewer.  Trust me, we're out there.  The biggest problem with talking to homebrewers is getting most of us to stop talking about beer and brewing.  I don't know a single homebrewer who isn't a complete lover of all things beer; that's just the way we are!  The answers to my FAQ's are 100% my own opinion and are more intended just to give someone starting off a good reference point to get started from.  So, here we go:

What should I brew?  This one is easy - whatever you want to!  Seriously - only you know what you really like.  For a first effort I would recommend something "easy" so you have an excellent chance of success, but what that is is 100% your choice.  If you like pale ale, brew a pale ale.  If you like IPA's, brew an IPA.  See a trend here?

Should I use malt extract or start with grains?  I have always used malt extract.  Some day I would love to malt my own wort from grain.  My friends at Williams sell the gear you need for this.  I have to believe that the satisfaction of starting with a bag of grain, a handful of hops and a pack of yeast and ending up with beer would be immense.  I produce some pretty good stuff from extracts though so it is just a matter of how "into it" you want to get.

Should I go with a kit or recipe?  Frankly I go both ways here.  I have had great success with kits from William's Brewing (and no I don't work for them).  One thing about any kit (at least from William's) is that it has been thoroughly tested.  Of course, most recipes you find from reputable sources will be well tested too.  The advantage to a kit is that all the guess work has been done for you.  The advantage to a recipe is you can adjust things like hopping level to suit your tastes.

How important is the water?  Very important; chlorine and beer do not really mix.  If you have chlorine it can add some off tastes.  This isn't too critical for any water that gets boiled since an hour of boiling will pretty much drive off all chlorine.  It is more critical for water you add to the finished wort to bring it up to the proper volume for fermenting.  I have a water filter and it does a good job for me.

Bottles or kegs?  I started out with bottles and thought about getting a keg system for years before I finally took the plunge.  I now own two five gallon and two two and a half gallon kegs.  Kegging is so much easier than bottling and besides, for a beer drinking there is really nothing "cooler" than offering a guest a draft.

Is liquid yeast better?  Based on my experience - absolutely.

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