Brewing for Dummies

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by BaalDagon, Sep 13, 2014.

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  1. BaalDagon

    BaalDagon Initiate (0) Jul 17, 2014 Tennessee

    I am looking to sink a little deeper into the world of brewing and amassing 5 gal brewing equipment; HOWEVER, I want to break away from the per-made kits and get into putting together my own recipes. I created an account on so that I could find, tweak, and create my own recipes. The problem is that they seem to be written in code, HAHA! Does anyone know of publications that will break the language down and give me something to refer to when I find myself in a bind for quick, reliable knowledge. Maybe something along the lines as a bible for brewing that dummies can understand! As always, you guys ROCK!
  2. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Aspirant (261) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    Joy of Homebrewing (edit: strike out Joy of Homebrewing, it is Home Beermaking I was thinking of) is simply written and a quick read comparatively speaking
    How to Brew by John Palmer is complete and comprehensive
    Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff (sp.?) is a great jump-off point for formulating recipes.

    By "written in code", do you mean:
    #2 scurvy311, Sep 13, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2014
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  3. Wanda

    Wanda Initiate (128) Nov 23, 2006 North Carolina

  4. BaalDagon

    BaalDagon Initiate (0) Jul 17, 2014 Tennessee

    Yes... but as a retired chef, I also need to understand why I am doing what I'm doing instead of blindly following, "do this and do that." I have just placed my order for "How to Brew."
  5. BaalDagon

    BaalDagon Initiate (0) Jul 17, 2014 Tennessee

    Thanks for the advice! Between you and scurvy, you have both solidified my confidence in Mr. Palmer's publication. There is so much out there when I did a blind search and I hate wasting time and money on stuff I don't need.
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  6. Scope4Beer

    Scope4Beer Initiate (156) Sep 28, 2009 Pennsylvania

    If you're thinking about recipe formulation, I'd suggest "Designing Great Beers" by Ray Daniels. "Brewing Classic Styles" by Jamil Z. And John Palmer is also definitely worth a read.
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  7. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Aspirant (261) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    There is short-hand in every hobby/field. I still have to look up what new acronyms mean from time to time (I think the last one was CAP. I had no idea that meant classic American pilsner until I did a little research). Once you get the how from a combination of experience, How to Brew, and I'll add the Brewing with Style/Brew Strong/The Jamil Show podcasts on The Brewing Netwok the short-hand and acronyms will make more sense. The Brewing Network podcasts are FAAAAANTASTIC resources for specific areas and styles.
    #7 scurvy311, Sep 13, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2014
  8. BaalDagon

    BaalDagon Initiate (0) Jul 17, 2014 Tennessee

    Yeah, tell me about it... I had another thread going when someone threw out DIPA. So I quickly responded, "What is DIPA!?" as I am sitting there with a wonderful double India pale ale in my hand, HAHAHAAA! I quickly posted... "Never mind, I'm drinking one.) I will give those podcasts a whirl too. I'm having a blast with my new found obsession, I mean hobby, it amazes me that I've never gotten into it sooner.
  9. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Disciple (303) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    How2Brew is a very good reference. It also has some decent bullet-proof recipes.

    Designing Great Beer is another very good reference. Plenty of detail of the whys and wherefores.

    Let me offer a contrarian opinion about sinking a little deeper and putting together your own recipes.
    IMHO...noobrewers should be more concerned about mastering the process of brewing more than recipe development.

    There are boatloads of tried and true...award-winning recipes available on-line upon which to practice the mechanics of home-beering. Start your journey here and here.
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  10. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,914) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin

    There is a Homebrewing for Dummies book out there. I used it to help move from extract to all grain. It was the first brewing book I owned (well, second, technically, but that's another story). I prefer Palmer's book; but the Dummies book actually got me pretty far. Plenty of books out there. For understanding the process, I think Palmer's is the best to get you started. For recipes, Brewing Classic Styles.
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  11. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    FWIW, let me echo what Herb said: brewing's really about process, not recipe.

    That's not to say you shouldn't make your own recipes. You should. It's fun. But your beer will only taste great once you master the process.

    There are a lot of great books out there these days, but Palmer is definitely one that will teach you the basics. Read, brew, repeat.
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  12. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,831) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    +1 Process makes good beer, not the recipe. Most will not pay attention to water chemistry, what to do for different equipment, and fermentation specifics have the biggest impact on finished flavor but are often omitted in a "recipe". One needs to realize that the process may be very different if you are brewing an ale, a German Pilsner, or a Lambic style beer.

    Eventually it becomes easier to create recipes that hit your flavor target goal.
  13. BaalDagon

    BaalDagon Initiate (0) Jul 17, 2014 Tennessee

    I couldn't agree with you more on perfecting methodology before experimentation, it's that was in the culinary world too! I guess I should have clarified my intent a little better in that I wanted to get away from prepackaged kits. The kits a great, don't get me wrong... but there is no explanation as to why I am doing what, just simply do this for that long, add this at this time at this temp, and so on. My problem lied in reading even the recipes you provided... they read Greek to me. So there in lies my plea for help. I have been CHEWING through "How to Brew" like a mad man and I am already making great strides in understanding things better. I thank you SO much for the sites you offered up as they are book marked so that I can mull them over for exciting recipes!
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  14. HerbMeowing

    HerbMeowing Disciple (303) Nov 10, 2010 Virginia

    Keep them cards and letters comin!'
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  15. koopa

    koopa Poo-Bah (2,059) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    I started with the Home Brewing for Dummies book myself and felt it really helped prepare me for reading How to Brew.
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  16. Ilanko

    Ilanko Initiate (147) Aug 3, 2012 New York

    Start with all-grain one gallon kit it will get you in to what is all about, from there is just much heavy and better
  17. BaalDagon

    BaalDagon Initiate (0) Jul 17, 2014 Tennessee

    I have set aside "How to Brew" for "HB for D" with the feeling that I am understanding it better! In just two hours I know that instead of getting into mashing at this time... I will stay with malt extracts. I have also learned plenty on hops and different hopping techniques, so I am really loving the format.
  18. BaalDagon

    BaalDagon Initiate (0) Jul 17, 2014 Tennessee

    I have one batch almost ready to bottle and another kit waiting in the wings. However, since I am a retired chef, leaving well enough alone is not in my vocabulary, HAHA! Brewing is much like cooking, and I obviously have a great passion for that. I am holding on going to larger batches until I can drink something drinkable from these two batches... but I can assure, I am chomping at the bit!
  19. joshua-brewtoad

    joshua-brewtoad Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2014

    If you go to the Brewtoad styles page, you can choose from any of the styles. For the sake of argument, let's say you chose "American IPA." You can then click the tab "Fermentable Usage," which will take you here. That screen will tell you how many recipes use a given fermentable in that style of beer. It's a great way to learn what ingredients are common for a given style.
  20. BaalDagon

    BaalDagon Initiate (0) Jul 17, 2014 Tennessee

    Brewtoad was one of the reasons behind this post Joshua. At the time, I was lost in trying to understand the "brewing language" that beer recipes are written in. Now that I am understanding things a lot better, and have produced my first batch, I see that there are other things I need to worry about such as clarifying my beer. I am in the process of assembling a 5 gal setup, I refuse to pay forty bucks for a six gal plastic bucket, HAHA!!! So, I have been cruising brewtoad, among other websites, getting an idea of my next step. I've also been talking extensively with my local beer brewing supply house (They are also the largest craft beer outlet in my area, so needless to say, I spend a lot to time and money there.) about anything I might need clarification on.
  21. bevoduz

    bevoduz Disciple (369) Oct 29, 2007 Illinois

    Find a local Homebrew Club, or Homebrew shop, and go brew with a few others. You'll learn more in a few hours watching someone else brew than you might think.
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  22. Vogt52

    Vogt52 Initiate (0) May 25, 2014 Maryland

    Check out They have a ton of articles explaining why you do certain things. I would definitely check out the "New to Brewing" Section, very helpful.
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