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Beer - Top 8 Keys to Improving Quality - 1 & 2

Updated on October 28, 2009

Beginning brewers sometimes get discouraged when they finally get to taste the fruits of their labor. Often, their beers simply don't live up to their expectations. When comparing their beers to those made by micro brewers or advanced home brewers, they are frequently disappointed. Some become so discouraged that they abandon brewing, convinced that it is something only professionals can do well.

On the contrary, beer of excellent quality is produced by thousands of home brewers, including many who are relative newcomers to the hobby. There can be a fine line between brewing good beer and that which is not so good. You don't have to get a degree in brewing science or spend $1000.00 on equipment to brew good beer. That said, a first time brewer likely won't be able to make an excellent clone of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale using an old coffee pot. Dramatic improvement can come through learning a little about beer and brewing, experimenting with new ingredients, upgrading your equipment slightly, altering a few techniques, and practice.

1. Reading Is Fundamental

As stated, previously, it is not necessary to become a brewing scholar to make quality beer. However, it does help to learn a little bit about beer and brewing. An interesting thing about brewing is that the more you learn about it, the more you enjoy it. The degree to which you want to advance your understanding is entirely up to you. If you want to become well versed in the intricacies of hop chemistry, suitable resources exist. If however, your goal is simply to gain a better understanding of the difference between bittering and aroma hops, there are resources out there for you as well.

Because of the popularity of both home and craft brewing, several good books and magazines related to brewing and beer are widely available. They range from how-to manuals for beginning home brewers to highly technical articles aimed at professional brewers. The world wide web is another good source of beer and brewing information.

2. Join The Club

Another good way to learn more about beer and brewing is to talk to other brewers. Experienced brewers can be a great source of information for beginners, and most of them love to talk about brewing. A great way to meet and interact with other brewers is to join a homebrew club. Again, thanks to the rise in popularity of home brewing over the past decade, homebrew clubs now exist in many areas. A central theme of most clubs is the promotion and enjoyment of the hobby of home brewing.

Some clubs are small and very informal. Others are large, kind of formal, and quite active. Many large clubs elect officers and have written constitutions. Some maintain web sites or publish monthly newsletters. Typical club activities include meetings, competitions, field trips, and special events such as beer festivals. Homebrew clubs foster interaction among brewers, typically focusing on expanding members' knowledge of beer and brewing techniques. They hold tastings and members frequently get together to brew.

To find out about possible clubs in your area, check with your local chamber of commerce, the local newspaper, or internet community bulletin board. Ask the staff of your nearby home brewing supplier if a club exists in your area. You can also check the American Home Brewers Association's list of registered clubs.

Continued In: Beer - Top 8 Keys to Improving Quality - 3 & 4

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