How can I improve the quality of my beer?

Question:

I’ve got a couple of kits under my belt now, and the results seem pretty good so far, but still not as good as my friend’s beer. What can I do to improve my beer?

Answer:

Here are a few things you can do to improve your beer. Keep in mind that any one of these things taken by itself may or may not have a noticeable affect on your beer, but as you start combining several of them, the changes in your final product will indeed become obvious. Some of these measures require special equipment (like perhaps a larger pot), while others require nothing but a few more minutes of your time. The best advice we can give is to first do all the ones that don’t require any special or expensive equipment, and if you want to after that (and you are sure you are going to stay with the hobby), then invest in a few more pieces of equipment.

– don’t use the yeast that comes with the basic home brewing kits, either use a good quality dry yeast (Coopers, Muntons Gold, and the new ‘Saf’ products are my favorites), or use liquid yeast
– always rehydrate your dry yeast, or make a starter if using liquid
– learn to use some specialty grains
– learn to use hops
– do a full-volume boil (non-trivial, but makes better beer)
– minimize use of sugar – use light or extra light malt extract instead