Luke runs the popular A Blog About Beer website and has agreed to share some great tips with everyone.
1) When did you start brewing your own beer and why?
I started brewing in 2005 when my roommate at the time and I decided to split the cost of a homebrew kit. I had gone on my first brewery tour shortly before that (at Sam Adams in Boston, MA) and was just getting into beer. My brother had been brewing for years and, when he heard that I bought a kit, sent me his war-torn copy of Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. Needless to say, the rest is history.
2) What advice would you give to homebrew beginners?
Sanitize EVERYTHING. Serious clean all of your equipment as much as you can and then clean it some more. As I was told when I was just starting out - absolutely the only germs you want in the carboy are the ones you put there yourself. If you keep things clean, your beer may not be an award winner but at least it’ll be drinkable. And that sure beats flushing 5 gallons of rotten beer down the drain!
3) What is the best tip to improve your beer that you have ever been given?
Definitely the cleanliness tip I mentioned above. But other than that - don’t rush things. And that applies from the start to the finish of the brewing process. If you rush things along the way you’ll end up making a mistake, so take your time. That applies to the aging at the end of the process, too. Every first-time brewer wants to dive right in and taste the fruits of their labor as soon as possible (hell, every seasoned brewer does, too. If you’re not excited to taste your beer than what’s the point?!) but if you can wait just a little while longer for the beer to age and the flavors to mellow and blend, you’ll be that much more pleased with the results.
4) What is your favorite commercial beer?
Haha don’t you know better than to ask that?! There’s no way to pick just one - and that’s what makes beers fun. Of course there are beers I like more than others, and breweries I really admire (and breweries I’m really sick of) and styles I prefer but it’s impossible to pick just one beer. And, if you do so, you’re really doing yourself a disservice by cutting yourself off now before you try hundreds more beers. and then hundreds more after that. Why settle for a “favorite” now?
5) What is your favorite style of beer?
I definitely try and drink very seasonally - i.e. lighter, “summerier” beers in the summer; “winter warmers” in the cold months, etc. etc. There’s a reason that seasonal styles got to be seasonal styles - that’s when they taste the best! But, if you were to take the seasons out of the equation, I prefer darker beers mostly - browns, stouts and porters especially.