Getting Into Homebrewing The Series – 1st Stage – Introduction

I’ve noticed that there is a lot of information out there if you are already brewing, but not a lot out there for people who are just stepping into the hobby or even just thinking about the hobby.  That is what this series is here for, to push you forward, give you some help, and a guide to get you into brewing.  The goal of this series is to answer most of the, “beginner questions”, and really start looking/sounding like you know what you are talking about.

Probably what brought you here was that you thought,  “Wouldn’t it be cool to make your own beer?”, or, “Is brewing beer really that hard?”.  To answer your questions right off the bat, no it’s not hard and yes you can do it.  Brewing beer is an amazing hobby, it is fun, it is an art, and something that I personally find a lot of joy doing.

Before we start diving into to too much, I feel that a I should properly introduce myself.  My name is Derek.  I’m the shop owner of Jay’s Brewing – it’s a local homebrew shop in VA.  “Wait, you’re not Jay?”, nope – I get it all the time don’t feel bad.  Jay use to own it, I was one of his customers and he ended moving.  I bought the business from him – never changed the name.  Will I ever change the name?  Probably not, I look forward to telling people my name is not in fact Jay, but rather Derek.

I’ve been brewing for close to 10 years now, and I’ve been around it for much longer than that.  Growing up I use to hang out with the boys (actually men) in my family and they use to brew beer and wine together.  That’s really where I learned how to make beer and wine, that and a lot of reading as well as trial and error.  While they made batches I would be taking mental notes of the ingredients and the process that they used.  Soon enough I just started doing it on  my own.

I still make batches of beer and wine and they are big batches, but for a while I was brewing smaller batches multiple times a week.  To me its fun, a great way to stay sharp, learn something new, and also a throw back to the simpler times when I was younger.  When I was growing up I had so many different family members I could tap for knowledge – it was an advantage that many people getting into the hobby just do not have.   That’s what this series (and this blog in general)  is really about – I am your resource to tap for knowledge and  to help you move along with brewing knowledge.

At Jay’s Brewing we have some very knowledgeable customers, a handful are actually starting up breweries in the next few years (one is going to be right across from me).  There is a huge cross-pollination of information that I’ve gained from some of the best brewers I know.  So with that type of cross-pollination of information, my background in the, “Old school” style, coupled with my general laziness with homebrewing, the advice I give is practical and I can personally guarantee I won’t be spewing stuff that I haven’t done or that just sounds good.  Trust me when I say if you are new to homebrewing the search for a good guide on how step up your game, come up with better recipes is over.  So let’s begin our journey together into the wonderful world of homebrewing.



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3 Comments on “Getting Into Homebrewing The Series – 1st Stage – Introduction”

  1. Brewella Says:

    I know you’re addressing those considering jumping into home brewing with this post, but I’ve been reading the blog for a few months now, so it’s about time I posted a comment. I like your no nonsense approach to brewing, and I’ve picked up a few helpful tips here. I’ve been brewing now for about a year now, with about fourteen brews down. I’ve done mostly IPA’s, nut browns, porters, and a few ambers. While I’m not exactly a novice, I’ve a long way to go before I’d consider myself an old hand.

    Here’s my current project. This past summer I tasted a Saison from my local brewery that blew me away. Blonde, crisp, refreshing, deceptively strong, and spicy without being overbearing. I cruised the brewing boards and came up with a basic Saison recipe that ended up just fine, but nothing like my first taste of Saison. It was peppery, and more copper in color than I expected since I had used a Pilsner DME and a pale wheat specialty grain. At first I thought the taste might be due to the yeast, one of the White Labs Saison strains, but after drinking one of my dad’s Bud Lights, I immediately recognized the aroma of the Pilsner malt. I’m certain that was what I tasted in the Bud, because I’ve only ever used the Pilsner for my Saison and that’s what I was getting from the commercial brew. That’s the taste that was bothering me. So, I guess my question is can I brew my Saison and sub out the Pilsner DME for a simple 2 row pale ale malt or would that be completely out of style and produce some awful Frankenbrew? Thanks for any input you might have.


    • Jay's Brewing Blog Says:

      The nice things about Saisons is that there really isn’t too many rules. It was the left over ingredients. All we know as brewers is that they were generally light, they were the working mans beer, a low ABV. We’re talking 3%ish low. Today you’ll see them all over the board as far as ABV goes. Another thing we know is that since it was open fermentation and it usually happened in the summer time they had, “funk”. The summer time made the yeast work out quite well when concerning funk and the open fermentation brought something different to every farm that was making it. One farm would taste different then the next. Everyone has there own understanding of this style though, some like to make big ones or hoppy ones – it’s really the brewers discretion.

      I wouldn’t rule out the yeast off the bat, especially when you say peppery. As far as color goes, add 1/3 of the DME in the beginning of the boil and then the rest at the end of the boil, that makes it lighter every single time. Doing, all-grain you can control some features more then with extract w/specialty grains as well. They can make it so it picks up less on body or more on body. I would see if you can use any of there yeast, sometimes breweries will sell a yeast slurry to homebrewers for cheap if you like it a lot.

      If your convinced it was the Pils malt, switch it out. It wouldn’t mess up the style at all, I’m sure you could find someone that will give you grief about it but even from a historical brewing perspective, they used what they could get there hands on. I’m guessing if they had spicy in it, then it was grains of paradise that they used in it. Also what they might have done is used the Saison yeast then once it got to about 1.030ish for the FG, they might have dried it out with another type of yeast. That would explain there, crisp and high abv. I would ask them what they did if you can and see if they can give any pointers. But if I took a stab at it in the dark that’s my guess with out tasting it. Let me know if I need to clarify or if you have any other questions.



  1. Getting Into Homebrewing – 2cnd Stage – The FAQ | Jay's Brewing Blog - November 13, 2012

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