As a new homebrewer, choosing what beer you should brew first can be a daunting task. After all, there are so many different beer styles to choose from, how do you choose where to start?
Though there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to homebrewing, some of these guidelines may help you with selecting your first brew:
- Start with a recipe kit. For your first batch, I recommend starting with a homebrew recipe kit, or at least a tried and true beer recipe. In homebrewing, the process is just as (if not more) important than the beer recipe, so maybe for the first homebrew beer let someone else handle the recipe formulation. The beer is more likely to turn out better, and you can focus on learning the process. Once you have the process down, you can start playing around with different ingredients.
- Brew a beer you want to drink – every day. A batch of homebrew makes 45-50 bottles of beer. So with that in mind, choose a beer style that you drink a lot of. Many people enjoy pale ales as their go-to beer style. In that case, you might try a Sahara Nevada Recipe Kit. That’s not to say you aren’t allowed to brew something more unusual, but that will only increase the odds of you having to pawn off five gallons of strange brew on your friends and co-workers. Save the chipotle smoked porter and chocolate stout for a little later in your brewing career. This might also eliminate high-gravity beers like barleywines and imperial stouts.
- Ales are easier than lagers. Since lagers require temperature-controlled fermentation, it’s usually best to make your first home brew beer an ale. Ales include IPAs, porters, brown ales, and stouts. Once you build your own fermentation chamber, then you can go crazy with the lagers. (You can read more about the difference between ales and lagers on our blog.)
- Darker beers tend to be more forgiving. Many people recommend that beginners start with darker beer styles, as the roasted malts help round out a beer that’s rough around the edges. Consider brewing a brown ale, porter, or stout for your first batch of homebrew.
Some good options for your first batch:
- Sahara Nevada Pale Ale – A clone of the ever popular Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (5.5% ABV).
- Babbage Brown Porter – A dark beer that’s not too heavy (5.5% ABV)
- Belgian Saison – If you like Belgian ales, this kit’s a great one to start with. Very bright, spicy, and aromatic (5.5% ABV)
- English Brown Ale – A malty brown ale with a nutty, slightly fruity aroma (4.5% ABV).
- Steam Stoker Stout – Dark brown, nearly black in color. Flavors of chocolate and coffee with a moderate hop character (6.5% ABV).
I hope this information helps you out when asking yourself, “what beer should I brew first?” It’s a decision to be made, for sure, but don’t let it stop you from getting started either. Jump right in, the water’s fine.
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.