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10 Mistakes All Homebrewers Make and How to Avoid Them
Some mistakes are more dire than others, but when it comes to homebrewing they all sting a bit. Here are the 10 mistakes that all homebrewers have made at least once.... at least I have.
1. You Bought the Wrong Kit
What is the point of brewing a beer of a style that you don't even really like? It won't really matter how good it turns out, because you won't enjoy it as much as you would have if it were your favorite. I have done this before. I wanted to brew something just to see if I could. It didn't really matter, because I decided I want to brew for me and my friends. Brew the right kit.
2. You Brewed with Bad Water
This is a tricky thing to remedy. Here in Fargo, the water changes drastically during the year so you have to adjust your salt additions and acid accordingly. I still screw this up. I have used tap, spring, distilled and a mix of all of them. It is way cheaper to use what you can get our of faucet (if it tastes good). Email your city and have them send a water report.
3. You Don't Know the Mash pH
Once I bought my pH meter, my life changed. My efficiency improved dramatically. I recommend one for all brewers. Here in Fargo, dark beers don't need much adjustments, but the paler styles need some help.
4. You Don't Know Your Boil Off Rate
You bought the ingredients for a 5 gallon batch. You start with 5 gallons at the boil, but soon enough you have 4 gallons of wort. Solution: boil at least an extra .5 gallons more than you want to go in the carboy. I actually found that with my kettle I lose about 1.7 gallons in a 60-minute boil.
5. You Messed Up the Hop Additions
Everyone misses a hop addition time at least once. This can be very frustrating. Write down times (e.g. 3:30,4:15) and/or set alarms for the additions. This might be easier than doing the math. "Okay, so a 15-minute addition is 45 minutes after I started the boil?"
6. You Used a Leaky Chiller
My immersion chiller cracked sometime last winter and the first batch I brewed in the spring was ruined. I couldn't figure out why my kettle seemed to look fuller. Turns out the hose water was going straight into the wort. Double-check by running water through it before you place it in the kettle.
7. You Didn't Clean Your Carboy
You had a ton of downtime during the mash and during the boil, but your carboy is still dirty or un-sanitized. Remember to get this ready during the mash. When that wort is chilled, it has to be transferred as soon as possible.
8. You Fermented Too Hot...or Cold
Some say the fermentation temperature is the most important step in creating good beer. If it isn't, it is tied for it. This is crucial. Having a temp reader on your carboy is mandatory. Use fans, water-soaked towels, anything to regulate the temperature.
9. You Over-Carbonated The Beer
I have done this. Force-carbing with a keg is too easy. Try to patient and let it carb at around 10 PSI for as long as it takes. I usually purge the keg at around 20 PSI while pulling the air release clip though. I would much rather drink an under-carbed beer.
10. You Didn't Share Your Beer
You have to share it. Not only will you get honest opinions, but if it is good the compliments are great. Free up your fridge by sharing with your friends, family and local brew club.
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