I asked Chad Davis, manager of Southwest Grape and Grain, for some beginning brewer tips. Here is what he read from his stone tablet:
1. Thou shalt sanitize.
“Tasty beer is only achievable from a clean brewing environment.” Clean and sanitize everything that will come in contact with your wort. And then do it again.
2. Thou shalt practice temperature control.
“Maintaining a specific fermentation temperature is essential to controlling the flavors of your beer. Temperature and environment have direct affects on how the yeast behaves, what flavors are produced, and in turn how the final product will taste.” For the most part, fermenting an ale at room temperature is just fine, but if your home experiences swings from hot to cold, you might try putting your fermenter in a tub of water that covers the bottom 15 percent or so. This will insulate against harmful fluctuations.
3. Honor thy ingredients.
“As with cooking, the quality of your ingredients can determine the quality of your finished product. You can't make a fresh beer with stale ingredients.” Both of Albuquerque’s homebrew stores keep a stock of fresh ingredients.
4. Thou shalt possess the proper implements.
“There's always newer gadgets, but a basic brewing kit is typically all you need to get started. Ours starts at $118 for everything you need.”
5. Thou shalt be patient.
“Most homemade ales take around four weeks from the brew day until they are ready to be enjoyed, but with many beers, it is not unusual for them to really develop character with a bit of extra time. This is why it's always good to take notes and have something ready to drink in the fridge!”