December 27th marked the one year anniversary of kegging my first home brew. It was a kit that I got from Northern Brewer as part of my initial equipment purchase called Dead Ringer IPA. The problem I had was that I was not a fan of IPAs, something that has changed considerably over the past year. I was really only a drinker of dark beers, but the IPA kit was what was included with my first bit of brewing hardware. I decided instead of letting it go to waste I would make lemonade out of the lemons, or rather an easier drinking pale ale out of an IPA. So the idea for my Not Really Dead Ringer was born. I’ll go into a little more detail about that later though.
When I began to delve into the idea of making my own beer I was in a different place than a lot of people starting off. I worked with a guy that had brewed a little in the past and, a year prior, began to brew again. We had many, many in depth conversations about how I should start, what I should buy, what I should read, etc… This went on for months until I finally pulled the trigger on my initial brew setup in November of 2013. That being said I think I had a little better heads up on what I needed to do to get into this hobby than if I had just clicked “Add to cart” on a website or walked into my local home brew supply store. I also had an understanding of the basics of the process and what needed to happen to get from a pot of water to a keg of beer. My co-worker let me borrow his copy of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian.
Charlie Papazian is considered by many to be the father of home brewing in the United States. In 1978 he founded the American Homebrewers Association and in 1984 published his first edition of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. In his book Mr. Papazian presents a very straightforward yet easy to read introduction to the fundamentals of homebrewing. Not being an avid reader I was originally a bit skeptical of the book, but found myself over one hundred pages in to the book in what seemed like a matter of minutes. The book is chock full of information to get the beginning brewer going and advanced material for the experienced brewer to use as a reference book. It is a highly recommended read for anyone who is considering the hobby. Even if you decide that brewing isn’t for you it will give you a good idea of what your buddies have done to make the beer they are serving you.
One of the things that you will see over and over again is the tag line, “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew”. I don’t think that phrase can be stressed enough to the novice, or even expert, home brewer. When making your first beer or your 100th beer it’s very easy to cross over the line from constructively cautious to debilitatingly paranoid. Even after you get past the first brew jitters the more you know about the process the more you start worrying about things that you could have possibly done wrong. I find it important to remember, as a fellow home brewer once told me as I was stressing over keeping my mash temp up on a very cold windy day, that they were making beer long before there were thermometers and of course “Relax, don’t worry, have a homebrew”.