5 Beginner-Friendly Homebrew Styles

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.

Beginner-Friendly Homebrew Styles

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.
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The Different Types of Beer Regulators Explained

Whether you’ve been considering taking the plunge into the world of draft beer with your own personal kegerator or you’ve been serving beer on tap for years, you may have some questions about regulators. I know I did after I got my first kegerator.

CO2 Tank & Regulator Inside a Kegerator
CO2 Tank & Regulator Inside a Kegerator

Finding the perfect CO2 or Nitrogen pressure is, perhaps, the most tedious part of dispensing draft beer. Regulators help to perfect and ease this cumbersome task.

So, kick back, pour yourself a beer and get ready to learn the differences between the many different types of beer regulators.

What is a Regulator?

A regulator is the device that connects the gas cylinder to the air tube. As one of the most important components of a kegerator, the regulator controls the flow of CO2 or Nitrogen from the cylinder through the line. If the pressure needs adjusting, the regulator is where you would make those adjustments to find the right pressure.
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Kegerator Glossary: Terms You Should Know

The world of draft beer has its own language, or so it may seem if you don’t recognize the terms being used. You may find yourself asking, They want me to connect what to the what? Whether you’re reading assembly instructions or browsing product descriptions, here are all the kegerator terms you need to know:

Keg Shell

Acid Cleaner — Removes beer and water stones from the beer lines. Not all acid cleaners are safe to use on all components, so these should only be used on your lines.

Barrier Tubing — Tubing lined with nylon or PET in order to better protect from the oxidation of your beer.

Beer Pump — A device that uses compressed air or CO2 to move beer great distances. Used when the faucet is far away from the keg.

Cleaning Pot — Also called a cleaning can. A vessel used to clean dispensing components. Once filled with cleaning solution, it is then tapped in the same fashion as a keg and dispensed through the draft system.

CO2 — In direct draw systems where the faucet is near the keg, carbon dioxide is used to push the beer from the keg.

CO2 Cylinder — Also called a CO2 tank, it’s the vessel that houses the CO2 gas mixture. Many kegerators arrive with a cylinder, but they are empty and need to be filled.

Conversion Kit — This kit contains everything you need to convert a refrigerator into a kegerator. There are different kinds of conversion kits, but they all typically include a faucet, beer line, air tube, coupler, draft tower, regulator, CO2 cylinder, and spanner wrench.
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The Auto-Siphon: A Must-Have for Every Homebrewer

Transferring liquid from one vessel to another is an unavoidable procedure by today’s methods of homebrewing. At least once during the process you will need to safely move liquid — whether wort and/or beer — from one place to another. In the beermaking world, this is known as racking.

Homebrew Auto-Siphon

There are a few ways to rack beer, but in homebrewing perhaps the easiest, most efficient and most sanitary way is by use of an auto-siphon.

What is an Auto-Siphon?

An auto-siphon is a simple piece of equipment that many would say is worth its weight in gold (for the sake of that, we’ll pretend like the auto-siphon isn’t lightweight). It consists of a racking cane with tubing on one end, with the other end housed within a racking tube. The racking tube will typically have a filter of some kind to block out unwanted particles and the racking cane will have a rubber grommet that allows easy movement within the tube without letting air by — very basic, yet very effective.

The auto-siphon takes the concept of a normal siphon, which utilizes atmospheric pressure and gravity to its advantage, and adds automation by allowing you to start the whole process without having to create a vacuum by “old school” means, like sucking on one end to get things flowing. In fact, that method is a terrible way to go about it as the bacteria in your mouth will undoubtedly contaminate the wort/beer as it flows through. With an auto-siphon, getting things started is even easier and much more sanitary.
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The Ins & Outs of a Kegerator

Beer is best when served fresh, cold, and on draft. Half the cost of canned and bottled of beer, kegged beer is a cost-efficient way to enjoy your favorite beverage. A kegerator makes this enjoyment possible, and depending on your beer buying frequency, can paying for itself in just a matter of months. It’s kegonomics, really.

Kegerator Anatomy

Let’s take a closer look at the ins and outs of this aptly named beer dispenser.

Components & Tools Used in Assembly

If you purchase a complete kegerator, all components and tools necessary for assembly will be provided for you.

However, if you’re building your own custom kegerator, you’ll need to be sure you have the following components and tools:
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How Long Does A Keg Remain Fresh?

Due to a variety of beer styles and storage options for your keg, there’s no set answer to this question. Depending on who you ask or what site you read, the answer will range between 20-120 days.

There are many variables that can play a role in how quickly your kegged beer starts to alter in taste, but a general rule to keep in mind is that as soon as that keg is filled at the brewery, the “freshness clock” starts. As time goes by, your beer will slowly start to taste less and less fresh.

How Are You Dispensing Your Beer?

To give you a better idea of how long your keg will last, let’s take a look at the two most common scenarios that one would find themselves in when they tap a keg.

1. Using a Manual Pump:

Manual Keg Pump

Commonly found attached to the top of kegs at house parties and backyard cookouts, the manual pump — sometimes called a bronco pump or party pump — works by pumping air into the keg, pressurizing it so that it can dispense your beer. If you’ve ever poured a beer out of a keg, then you’re probably familiar with this kind of pump, as well as the problems that come along with it, such as over-pumping and excessively foamy beer.
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How to Use an Immersion Wort Chiller

Brewing your own beer can be a fun and delicious hobby. If you’ve already made a few batches of homebrew, you might be wondering how you can step up your game and create even more distinctive brews. If this is the phase you find yourself in, I would suggest looking into using an immersion wort chiller. This powerful tool will help you effectively manage one of the most critical steps in the brewing process – the cool down. When you learn how to properly use an immersion wort chiller, you will be well on your way to making beer that is consistently crystal clear and flavorful.

Immersion Wort Chiller

Here’s my tips on how you can use an immersion wort chiller during the homebrewing process.

Why Is Wort Chilling Important?

Before getting into the immersion chiller itself, it’s important to understand why it is needed. The beer making process begins by mashing malted grain and then boiling hops within that mixture to create a flavorful extract. This is known as wort.

Once the wort has been prepared, it needs to be brought quickly from boiling temperature (212°F) down to approximately 60–75°F. The danger zone is between these two temperature points.

While the wort is still hot or warm, it can harbor dangerous bacteria and yeasts that may infect the beer or give it an unpleasant aroma and/or flavor. A chilling device helps quickly reduce the temperature of the wort to create the appropriate environment for fermentation to take place.
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Winter Warmers: A Beer Style Designed to Keep You Warm

Winter warmers are another wildly popular seasonal amongst beer geeks. As the name implies, this seasonal is only brewed in the winter and all have a slightly higher ABV to help “keep you warm” during the holiday season.

What is a Winter Warmer?

Winter Beer

For centuries now, beer with higher-than-usual amounts of alcohol has been brewed in the fall and winter months. Nobody is quite sure when the name “winter warmer” was applied to this style, but the name still rings true as this type of beer will definitely keep you warm on a chilly night.

The most notable feature of a winter warmer is the higher-than-average amount of alcohol that you will find within them. While there are no set guidelines of what ABV this style should have, you will generally find that they have an ABV of 5.25-8.0%. In some cases, you will find that this reaches up to 10%, but that is definitely not the norm for a winter beer.

Other than more alcohol, winter beers typically will have a large malty backbone with very little hoppy bitterness. Whatever hop flavor there is will be balanced, to not take away from the malty sweetness this style is known for. You will also notice that the flavor will be full and bold with a medium to heavy body. The color of a winter warmer will be darker, ranging from dark red to deep black.

Some brewers will toss in a few select spices to give their winter warmer a different kind of bite. While this isn’t necessary for this style, it is quite common nowadays. Winter beers from breweries in the United States are known to have an eclectic palate of spices, whereas those from England and other parts of the world are less likely to have these extra ingredients.
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6 Common CO2 Questions Answered

CO2 Regulator Single Gauge

CO2 is an essential factor to consider when dispensing draft beer and it’s typically the component that has the most questions associated with it. It’s unclear why people are easily intimidated with CO2, but it could be because chemical compounds and subscripts remind them of their high school chemistry class.

Without getting too technical, here are the answers to the most frequently asked CO2 questions:

1. How do I know what pressure my CO2 is set at?

Your regulator, which is the component that connects the tank to the air hose, will have either one or two gauges on it. If it only has one, then that’s the one you’re looking for. If it has two, look for the gauge that shows a range of about 0-60 PSI (pounds per square inch). This will be your regulated pressure gauge. The number the arrow is pointing to on this gauge is how much pressure is being delivered to your keg.
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What is a Keg Coupler?

Keg Coupler

Now that your home bar or man cave has its own kegerator to cool and dispense that frothy beer you love so much, it would be wise to get acquainted with some of the essential components of your kegerator. One of the most important parts of your kegerator is the keg coupler.

What the Keg Coupler Does

Think of the keg coupler as a “key” and the valve of a keg as the “lock”. They can’t work without each other. The keg coupler attaches to the valve and to a CO2 compressed gas line. It allows the compressed air to enter the keg and push out the beer. As a result of all of these components working together, you get a perfectly chilled and delicious draft beer in the comfort of your home.
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