Given Coloradans love for consuming craft beer—it seems there’s no limit to the number of breweries we’ll support—it’s no surprise the Centennial State is full of homebrewers. According to statistics from the American Homebrewers Association, western states account for the largest percentage of homebrewers in the country. What’s more: Homebrewers produce more than two million barrels of beer a year. Anyone who has attempted one of these batches of homebrew knows how challenging it can be to create an ale you can proudly share with friends. To (hopefully) make the process a bit smoother, we asked Upslope Brewing‘s head brewer, Sam Scruby, for a few tips.
Poor temperature control during fermentation can lead to problems like off-flavors or higher alcohol content and a distinct boozy taste. Scruby suggests finding a cooler spot for storage such as a basement, or covering the fermenting brew in a damp towel.
“Ninety percent of bad homebrew is caused by improper care of yeast,” Scruby says. In most cases, he says, pitching more yeast is better than not pitching enough. Always oxygenate your wort prior to fermentation; proper contact time with yeast will reduce off flavors.
Simply put, per Scruby, fresh ingredients make for fresh beer. Using old hops will produce a brew that lacks flavor and aroma. Know your supplier and ask questions, Scruby says. As he points out, homebrew shops are often one of the last places to receive hops.
Write down what you’re doing, particularly anything out of the ordinary, such as changes to the recipe or mistakes that were made during the brewing process. Taking good notes will help you replicate the brew again for the next batch, or troubleshoot if the beer doesn’t taste quite right.