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"Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy," may be a Benjamin Franklin myth, a fabrication of what the Founding Father really said, but none can argue the truth behind the statement. Since its inception, beer has become a mainstay in human culture. If you have any desire to become a person of many talents, I can think of few cooler than adding the title of brewmaster to your list of accomplishments.
To start off on the right foot, make sure to pick the right style of beer to brew at home. One of the most popular styles of beer these days is the India pale ale (IPA). IPAs are known for their hoppy taste and fairly strong flavor profile. If you're reading this article I presume you already know this, you've already tried the best IPA beer brands on the market, and you're wondering if trying to make your own IPA beer is worth it. With how easy, cheap, and fun the process is, I would say it's more than worth it. So here's how to make a great IPA you can be proud of.
What makes IPAs so great?
I'm glad you asked! I decided to focus on pale ale because they are one of my favorite kinds of beer. My dad introduced me to them when I was younger (21, of course) and I haven't been able to thank him enough. I would say I enjoy them mostly due to their flavor but I also get excited at the sheer diversity of the specific beer genre. The variety is unmatched with at least ten sub-styles of IPA, and countless brands to choose from—which leads me to my first point.
Know the basics and use the right beer recipes for you!
As is the case with anything regarding what you decide to eat or drink, make sure it will be something you like. There are numerous recipes out there for homemade beer, all varying to suit different tastes and palates. It is important when you find a recipe that appears delicious to make sure it is designed to fit what you find tasteful. So find a beer recipe you think you will enjoy, acquire the proper equipment to make it at home, and get ready to make your own IPA beer!
Just to be on the safe side and ensure you choose a safe IPA recipe, you should probably know the basic steps of brewing. Any recipe you try should include water, malt, hops, and yeast. Some of the necessary steps are:
- Mashing (stirring)
There are several ways you could accomplish these steps, and different methods will have you adding hops and other ingredients at different times. Be sure to check and see if all the ingredients and steps are there and if they are, follow the recipe's instructions to the letter for the best result.
A beer making kit will become your best friend!
If you want to get all the tools and items necessary to craft your own IPA and do it all yourself, good for you! You are the truest renaissance man/woman in today's world! If you'd rather focus on the creating, refining process that is beer making, then buy a beer making kit. All the necessary tools to brew your own IPA come included, making it much easier than running around several stores trying to find the perfect equipment.
For the money, the West Coast Style IPA Beer Brewing Kit is your best bet. It has 14 pieces of specialized equipment, including the ingredients, a fermentor, a thermometer, and many other necessary accessories to begin brewing. The equipment (aside from the ingredients) can be reused for multiple brewings. This kit sports a 4.6 out five-star rating by UncommonGoods users. The instructions seem difficult but can be followed easily, making your first brew a fun experience! Hopefully, this will spark a passionate new hobby in your life! Maybe you'll take your talent for creating the finest IPAs and become a brewmaster or bartender. You may be scoffing or shaking your head, but a lot of celebrities started out as bartenders, so clearly that's the first step to stardom!
Why this kit?
I decided to go with this kit because of the high-quality ingredients, easy instructions, and the taste is right up my alley. It comes with 100 percent malt extract, specialty grains, high-quality yeast, and enticing Summit and Cascade hops sourced from Washington state's Yakima Valley. These ingredients, and your soon-to-be expert beer brewing skills produce a citrus flavor with a hint of spice. It is the perfect IPA for the summer but could be enjoyed in the winter all the same.
Once you read the instructions, you'll be able to use the gallon glass fermentor, rubber stopper, transfer tube, tube clamp, racking cane, and all the other various equipment pieces easily. After the process is complete, you'll have about 12 bottles-worth of prime, hand-crafted IPA goodness. Feel free to alter your recipe and try again, as the all the equipment can be reused, just remember to clean it thoroughly. All of this at an affordable price that won't have you breaking the bank is a good deal in my eyes.
Make sure your ingredients are fresh.
Once you've used up the first batch of ingredients from the kit and it's time to replenish them yourself, or if you just prefer to use ingredients you buy personally from the get-go, be sure to inspect everything for quality. Low-quality components of your IPA formula will translate to subpar beer. I know, those two words together give you the heebie-jeebies. Well, they should. Below-average beer is depressing, especially when it was made by your own hands.
This applies to hops primarily. If you will be purchasing your hops from a store, make sure they've been stored cold and vacuum-sealed to keep out oxygen. You're going to want to make sure to get dry hops and ensure that all the other ingredients are fresh and will make your beer taste great!
Design your own beer labels.
So you've crafted your delicious IPA, it's been stored perfectly, and it's time to try! Before handing them out to your friends and family, stick a funny or well-designed label with your name on it. I've always wanted to have a beer with my name on it — there's a spot on my bucket list reserved just for that.
Labels give your IPA a personalized touch and make it look super official. Avery offers a ton of design patterns, ranging from funny to fancy, and is relatively cheap. Show everyone that you are the Leonardo Da Vinci of the alcohol world because you can make your own IPA beer with customized labels.
Don't rush the fermentation process.
One of the most common mistakes first-time brewers run into is going too quickly. Rushing through the steps will only ruin your beer, especially if you blister through the fermentation process. The yeast needs to be allowed to create the flavors we so desperately love.
If you decide to have a sip before this yeast is done fermenting, I guarantee you will regret it. While technically safe to drink, it will most likely taste less than ideal. So if you're going to make your own IPA beer for the first time, be sure to have patience. Let science work its magic so you enjoy a tasteful, cold beer. Amen.
Learn from your brewing mistakes.
This is not an exact science! Whether you are a seasoned veteran of the brewing game or new to it, know that there are no wrong things to try. If a batch did not come out as you expected, go over what you did and how this may have happened. Maybe you forgot a step or maybe your experimental ingredients did not pan out — don't worry about it. You can use the West Coast Style IPA Beer Brewing Kit as often as you want. Just cross off that recipe and create another. After all, that's all life is: trial and error.
Choose the right glass.
You just went through all that trouble to make your own IPA beer, so don't ruin it in the final step. A lot of people overlook or ignore this aspect of beer drinking, but it is crucial. Maybe the reason your beer doesn't taste great is that you're using the wrong glass! There is a multitude of glasses created specifically to emphasize qualities of different craft beers. There are quite a few options to choose from, but don't feel too overwhelmed.
Luckily, guides for craft beer glasses exist and can help you choose the best option. Once you have attained the correct glass to pair with your IPA masterpiece, you can drink to your heart's content! Now feel free to tinker or revise your recipes to concoct a truly great IPA for the future!
Remember to brew responsibly.
As is always the case with any kind of alcohol, drink it responsibly. This also applies to you when you make your own IPA beer. Make sure to do it in a controlled, safe environment. There are a lot of heavy instruments and a lot of alcohol present, so be careful to keep children or pets away from your brewing workshop.