So you’ve got your equipment all ready and you’re keen to get started on your first batch. What should you make?
It is generally recommended that you start with an ale. Brewing a lager comes with more complexities that you probably don’t need right now. Its not necessarily harder, but why add further steps at this early stage?
You need to be very careful where you get your recipes from. At this early stage, if you make a bad recipe perfectly, you really won’t know whether it was your brewing practice or just a terrible recipe.
The ‘holy grail’ of recipe books is ‘Brewing Classic Styles’ by Jamil Zainasheff. Jamil is a very well known home brewer who in the last couple of years has taken the jump into starting his own brewery, Heretic Brewing Company. Brewing Classic Styles is a list of his gold medal winning recipes of which he obtained in every category of beer (at the time). You really can’t go wrong with these recipes and they make great starting points once you are ready to tweak.
Speaking of Jamil, he is involved in a brewing podcast series called the Brewing Network which I would highly recommend for recipes as well.
Another great resource is the americanhomebrewersassociation.org website. Here you will find more gold medal winning recipes along with others produced by the AHA.
You can also get great recipes on the Northern Brewer website which is a store in the US.
Forums can be a great resource for recipes but I would recommend sticking to published sources, at least at the start. Some brewers in forums are very knowledgable and could give you an amazing recipe. Unfortunately some aren’t and its hard to tell at this early stage who is faking it and who isn’t.
The great thing about home brewing is you can experiment with a number of recipes and never be out of pocket too much if the beer isn’t exactly what you want. After all, you still have beer! Now how could that be a bad thing?