I read the guide -- fairly solid information.
Some additions from a commercial brewer:
Yeast is the most important ingredient in beer. Brewers make wort (unfermented barley sugar water with hops). Yeast makes beer. If you're serious about beer, try this experiment -- make a five gallon batch, and ferment in five one-gallon containers. Use five different yeasts. You'll end up with five markedly different beers.
Dry yeast, particularly the Safale brand mentioned in the guide, is not that good. All yeast powders contain some bacteria and wild yeasts. So long as you get liquid yeast from a high volume
brewing supply store, liquids are always better than dry. Besides, you can match the single-strain yeast to your beer style. This will make a huge difference in beer quality.
EDIT: Temperature control cannot be stressed highly enough. I ferment most of my beers "cold" -- 60f for an ale, 45f for lagers. My only exception is Belgian trappist ales and dubbels, which I ferment at 70f. Low-temp fermentation means a cleaner taste. Higher fermentation temps lead to higher ester production, which leads to more flavor notes. If you want a clean, dry beer, ferment as cold as the yeast will stand. (Wyeast 1056 is ideal for clean, crisp ales. Ferment it at 55f.)
Beer is (usually) more than 90% water. If you're using city water, your quality may suffer -- particularly if chloromines are added or if the water is particularly soft. (If it's soft, make stouts.)
Volumes have been written about adjusting water -- both PH and mineral hardness. Your local brewing supply shop may have tips on how to manage your city's water. If you use well water, you may want to have the water analyzed. It'll cost about $50, but it's well worth the cost if you plan to make more than 50 gallons per year.
3) Malt Extract.
I never, ever, ever, have brewed with extract. I started out as a home brewer with barley. It's more expensive and time consuming this way, but that rich, creamy head and full body makes it all worth the effort.
Cracking and mashing barley takes time, effort and equipment. If there is any interest, I'll post how to make a mash tun using a picnic cooler and about $10 worth of copper pipe. You'll also need a grain mill, which will run $100 or so.
4) Why bottle when kegging is less expensive and more repeatable?
Just wait 'til you overprime a batch and end up with glass grenades blowing up in your basement -- you'll end up kegging eventually, so you may as well START with kegs.
Here's a place to start: http://morebeer.com/...roduct_id=18190
You can also filter the yeast out of your beer using 2 kegs and a filter: http://morebeer.com/...roduct_id=16769
If anyone has specific questions, PM me, and I'll either PM back or drop an answer here.
Key West, Florida
Edited by ScoopKW, 22 April 2006 - 05:03 PM.
Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe