Apart from that pilgrimage to a Trappist monastery, every homebrewer should really have a few brewing bucket-list items that they want to tick off.

To get you started, here are three to get you started!

This is of course just a sample of cool things homebrewers should be adding to diaries. So, let us know in the comments below if you have other suggested “must-do” activities for homebrewers.

#1 Brew a small-batch beer

Given that time is sadly limited, the average homebrewer tries to brew lots of beer when brew days come by. After all, why not, right? But if you’ve never done it, do yourself a favor and try a small batch, half-a-case (i.e. 12 bottles) quantity brew.

Why would brewing such a tiny quantity be a good thing? Here are a few reasons:

  • You can experiment more wildly. Even if you’re pretty courageous homebrew-wise, knowing that there are potentially 19 liters (5 gals) of beer that can turn out to be undrinkable might prevent you from trying more edgy recipes. Brewing only 4-5 liters (1 gal) of beer will give you the freedom (and peace of mind) to finally give that double pomegranate Saison a try.
  • Cleanup is a breeze. Do what you want, but brewing on big equipment, the sort you’d use for a 19 liter (5 gals) batch, takes some cleaning. It really can be a pain. But brewing a small batch means that most if not all of your equipment can fit into the dishwasher. Cleaning takes a few minutes as opposed to a few hours. And that is almost worth the entire price of admission for small-batch brewing!
  • Bottling is better. If you’re like me, you’d rather sit through multiple re-runs of Matlock than have to bottle beer. But in small-batch brewing, bottling is super quick and (relatively) less of a mess. Bonus!

Give small-batch brewing a try. To get you started, there are already a few recipes on Beginner Brewer and more advice on the practice.

#2 Harvest and re-use yeast

Although brewer’s yeasts have become progressively more diverse and affordable over the years, there’s still a very specific mystique attached to growing your own. For most homebrewers, that means re-using and harvesting yeast from previous brews.

Recently, I wrote a full guide to the how-tos of reusing your yeast, so I won’t go into that here. But I would like to discuss the why.

Reused yeast is more flavorsome. With each successive generation of yeast propagation, you’ll get slightly more complexity and depth of flavor compared to the original batch.

This is somewhat less pronounced for dry yeasts than liquid yeasts, and it does have an upper limit (most yeasts will only reliably propagate for around 7-10 generations). But it’s well worth it and will teach you loads about yeast health and how these little miracle-workers really do what they do.

#3 Clone a beer

By cloning a beer, I mean trying to recreate a favorite commercial beer in your home brewery. So, if you’re a big Pilsner Urquell fan, why not do some research and see if you can come close to the original version?

Not only is this a while boat-load of fun to do, it will also teach you new things about brewing and techniques that you may not have picked up otherwise.

For a good guide on clone brewing, check out the book, Clone Brews by Tess and Mark Szamatulski.

But even if the book is currently out of reach, you can do a few small-batch experiments (see above) and hone in on a famous beer’s signature flavors.

Thanks for reading! Now, go brew.

Photo by YesMore Content on Unsplash

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