The first thing you’ll want to do is find yourself a recipe that looks appealing. There are lots of them around on the Web, but please be cautious to only use recipes from websites you can trust.
Some of the recipes you will find out there have never been tested, and may not produce a very good batch of beer at all. So be cautious. You can check our recipes page for some of our favourites. If you are just beginning, you might want to avoid recipes that require specialty grains, although to be honest they aren’t very difficult to use.
After you’ve found a recipe that appeals to you, there is a very simple procedure to follow to turn your ingredients into beer. If you are still having trouble deciding what to make, here are a few easy ones that we’ve made before:
- Honey Wheat Beer can be made with or without specialty grains
- Oktoberfest Lager is really easy to make, and very tasty even if you don’t lager it!
- Brown Ale is a good choice for those who like a darker beer
Inventing Your Own
Sooner or later, most people who brew from recipes end up fiddling around with the ingredients of a particular recipe – changing it to suit their own tastes. By this point the brewer has become very comfortable with the brewing process, and has a good idea what the effect each of the various ingredients has on the final product. Eventually, many brewers end up inventing recipes from their head, based upon their experience with other similar ones. Just about every beer we brew now – either extract or all-grain – is something we make up ourselves based upon general style outlines. As John Palmer says “Do you need a recipe to make a sandwich?”. As you become more experienced, you will not need one for making beer, either.
This is all, of course, part of the joy of homebrewing, and should be strongly encouraged. If you like a particular style of beer, and want to make up your own recipe for it, then go for it! After all, one of the great advantages of brewing your own is that you can make beer that exactly suits your taste.
When formulating your own recipe, follow a Beer Styles Chart to help you get a rough idea of how to brew a particular type of beer. Of course, if you don’t like anything you see, you are always free to invent your own style of beer if you like! This is yet another advantage of brewing your own.
Be creative, let yourself go. With some experience you will be able to create lots of different beers. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, either. The beer you produce may not end up exactly as you had hoped the first time around, but chances are it will still be a good beer.
Some Caution Advised
Though we do strongly encourage you to be creative and invent your own recipes, we must also stress caution in doing this. Some ingredients can have an overwhelming affect on flavour even when used in small amounts. If you want to experiment, by all means do so. But make sure you have at least a general idea what you are doing, and what affect the ingredient will have. We stress that it is far better to err on the side of too little, than too much. If you put too little of something into your beer, then you can always add a bit more next time, and in the meantime you can still enjoy your beer. But if you put too much of something in, you could possibly make a beer which is almost completely undrinkable. For example, our first experiment with chili-peppers made beer which was incredibly hot, and completely undrinkable. And we like hot food.
Experiment with Part of a Batch
Depending upon what exactly you are doing, consider doing it with only part of the batch. For example, as mentioned above we did some experiments with putting whole chili peppers into the bottles of some of the beers we made. It would have been extremely foolish for us to take an entire batch of beer and put chilis into every single bottle. Especially so the first time we tried it. It’s a much wiser approach to take perhaps a half dozen bottles aside and experiment with them, so if you screw it up you don’t waste all your beer. Whenever possible, we recommend a similar approach.