When first beginning your homebrewing journey it may be very tempting to rush your rise to brewing glory by jumping right into some impressive-sounding double IPA, Russian imperial stout or perhaps a barleywine. Well, not to discourage you, but brewing complex beers such as these can leave tons of opportunity for mistakes, which would ultimately ruin your investment.
Even worse, a lack of initial success could rub you the wrong way and even turn you off to homebrewing altogether, which would be the worst part of it all. Really, unless you have an experienced brewer providing close guidance, your best bet is to start out brewing a less complex and more forgiving recipe so you can lock the process in while learning the ins and outs of homebrewing to apply towards more involved styles in the future.
It’s advisable to stick to using ingredient kits of some kind whether extract or mini-mash so long as they incorporate malt extract. This way you can be sure that you’re getting the necessary sugars and base for the beer.
Here are five well-known styles that can be just as much fun to make and if don’t right are sure to please the palates of all your friends. Plus, these styles are very versatile and great for any time of year.
1. American Wheat Ale
The American wheat is, well, the American take, on a popular style of beer that finds its roots in Germany—the German Hefeweizen also referred to as the Bavarian Hefeweizen. The style is characterized by a light to medium body, a cloudy appearance and notes of citrus, banana and clove. The grain bill should consist of anywhere between 50% and 70% wheat allowing the beer to have a certain fluffy characteristic, which can also be seen in the head when poured.
The main difference between the American and German styles is the hop and yeast usage. The German style uses subtler hops with German yeast while the American version can have a more noticeable hop profile while utilizing American ale yeast.
The style is perfect for the spring and summer months but really does make a great year-round beer. It has flavors, aromas and a lighter body that are even sure to impress the picky beer drinkers.
A typical extract ingredient kit can consist of wheat malt extract, 1-2 oz. of hops for bittering and aroma, and ale yeast. The BSG Select American Wheat ingredient kit and True Brew American Wheat ingredient kit are both great choices when it comes to brewing your first American wheat.You may also be interested in the BSG Select Bavarian Hefeweizen and True Brew Bavarian Hefeweizen ingredient kits, as they are very similar and serve as other great options for beginner homebrewers.
2. Amber Ale
The Amber ale is a well-balanced beer that has become a favorite among many beer drinkers. It is not overly hopped and does not have a single characteristic that overpowers another. While the grain used for amber ales can be similar to pale ales, the amber ale is made with lower alpha acid hops leading to a far less resinous and pronounced hop profile. This allows the malt to have a bigger part in the show.
Also, amber ales are made with darker roasted malts in addition to light malt, which is where the reddish amber color is derived from as well as the subtle caramel and toffee notes that can often be found.
While amber ales can take on the characteristics of any ingredient you bring into the mix, they tend to be relatively simple recipes ultimately making for a more straightforward beer that leaves less room for mess-ups. A typical amber ale ingredient kit can consist of light malt, dark malt, 1-2 oz. of hops and ale yeast. The BSG Select Amber ingredient kit and True Brew Amber ingredient kit are great all-inclusive packages for brewing your first amber ale. The True Brew Red Ale ingredient kit is another similar option that can serve as a nice midway point between amber ale and pale ale.
3. Brown Ale
The brown ale is a very simple style that can be a great first choice recipe for a beginning homebrewer. It can be classified as being American or English style with the former having a greater hop presence while the American brown ale uses American hops and yeast and the English uses those from England.
Like the amber ale, both are well balanced but slightly darker in color due to the use of a greater amount of dark malt. They have a light to medium body and are great for enjoying any time of year. While the brown ale can be a very forgiving style, in the case that you find you still don’t want to drink it, the style makes a great ingredient for cooking and the beer doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect. The ingredients used in brown ales make them a great complement to lots of foods.
The BSG Select Brown ale and True Brew Brown ale ingredient kits will both help you make a quality brown ale while the BSG Select Nut Brown and True Brew Nut Brown ale ingredient kits will provide a slightly different take with additional ingredients and flavors.
4. Pale Ale
Somewhat similar to the amber ale, the pale ale differs in that it employs the use of hops in a much more aggressive manner. The grain bill, or malt extract used could be very close to one another but the introduction of higher quantities of more pronounced hops can completely change the overall flavor profile of the beer making the two very different.
The good thing is that hops can be very prominent in any style of beer when used in a more aggressive manner, and when done so with a pale ale, the hops can sort of mask mistakes that may have been made. While you shouldn’t go using hops as a bandage for a bad beer, it can certainly help take a less-than-perfect beer up a notch or two.
With pale ales, hops can be added at multiple intervals during the boil for bittering, flavoring and aroma. Pale ales are bitterer than amber ales and use a higher alpha acid hop for bittering at the start of the boil. A typical pale ale ingredient kit can consist of light malt, crystal malt, 3-4 oz. of hops, and ale yeast. In extract kits, if the malt extract is hopped then it may not require or include as many hops for use during the boil. The BSG Select Pale Ale ingredient kit and True Brew Pale Ale ingredient kit are two great choices and come with everything you need.
The porter is somewhat similar to the brown ale and is perhaps one of the most forgiving styles of beer to make. The incorporation of dark malts like chocolate malt allows this beer to be rather resilient when it comes to dealing with mistakes.
While it isn’t a guarantee that you’ll create an award-winning batch on your first attempt, its flavor profile has the ability to “cover up” inconsistencies that you may create during the beermaking process. Off flavors don’t tend to be as pronounced within the depths of the porter’s dark and roasted flavors.
A typical porter ingredient kit can consist of dark malt extract, chocolate malt and other specialty grain, and 1-2 oz. of mild hops. The BSG Select Porter ingredient kit and True Brew Porter ingredient kit each include everything you’ll need to make a solid porter.