Top-of-the-Hops: How to Become a Brewmaster

This week’s blog comes courtesy of our guest blogger Dakota Murphey with a bit of advice for all of the budding brewers among you.

Beer. Just reading the word alone is enough to make some people’s mouths salivate.

It’s most men’s favourite drink, a close second behind dogs as man’s best friend, and the perfect accompaniment to sunny weather and cold winter evenings. Let’s face it, it’s one of the best inventions ever made.

It’s no surprise then that the craft beer movement has been consistently growing and growing year on year. It’s equally no surprise that many men (and women) now want to turn their hobby into a career, becoming a master brewer of their own range of beer.

However, as with most things, practice makes perfect and, especially when it comes to brewing, creating a faultless beer is not as easy as it seems. From formulating the ideal recipe to purchasing the correct industrial equipment, learning to brew really is an art.

Fortunately, we are here to help. Follow our tips and tricks and we will take you from a brewing beer-ginner to top of the hops in no time.

Do you really want this?!

A blunt question to start with but an important one – you need to ask yourself if you’re really ready for a world in the craft brewing industry. It isn’t easy and can, at times, be very physically demanding, with long hours and low compensation to begin with.

It’s important you know this going in. Making beer should be something you absolutely love and have an immense passion for. If you are half-hearted about it going in, that will eventually catch up with you. Make sure you’re going into it with the right mindset and for the right reasons.

Volunteer at a local brewery

While on the topic of being unsure, it could be a good idea to bulk up your brewing knowledge, by volunteering at local breweries around your area. Not only will this teach you about some of the more menial tasks involved with making your own beer, but it will also help with networking when you come to release your own beer.

Breweries are a very communal business so being friendly with rival breweries is a great way of forming sustainable relationships and developing networking opportunities. Choosing to volunteer can really be a fantastic method for getting your foot in the door – both figuratively and literally.

Drink. As. Much. Beer. As. You. Can.

Probably the best bit of advice you will ever hear: drink as much beer as possible. Except, well, ‘drink’ is probably the wrong word – ‘taste’ is probably more accurate. Make sure to ‘taste’ as much beer as possible.

It’s vital for you to expand your knowledge of beer and there’s no better way of doing that than diving right in (not literally), trying beers in different styles to see which tastes you like or not. It may seem like an obvious thing to say, but in order to thrive as a brewmaster, you have to love beer. If you don’t, how are you going to know what your eventual customers are likely to buy or not?

Practice basic brewing – and fail.

It may sound a bit strange, but failure is your best friend when it comes to starting life in the brewery business. You are not going to create the world’s best beer straight away – that will come in time, once you’ve been through the process and created a few batches of truly horrible beer.

Get your head around the process involved, keep trying different things and remember that it’s all part of the journey. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Constantly remind yourself of why you got into the brewery business in the first place and, as clichéd as it may sound, never give up.

Get educated.

Having a background in chemistry, microbiology or engineering can really help you tailor the beer creation process, and give you the knowledge to develop some truly innovative, scientifically-based beers.

That’s not to say you can’t become a brewmaster without a scientific background, but it definitely helps. Acid/base titrations, pH, alcohol by volume, concentration calculations and yeast husbandry techniques are all part and parcel of the brewing process, so it’s vital to get your head around the basics.

To get a beginner’s guide to each of these processes and more, why not visit a local brewery for a guided tour? Or, enrol yourself on a specialist brewing course? You’ll be able to go through each of the processes involved with brewing, and get educated on which machinery is required at each stage. To learn about brewing on a budget, try a basic home brewing guide to begin with, as well as a simple brewery starter kit.

Enter brewing contests.

Once you’ve nailed down the process and have created the perfect beer, you’ve got to get it out there. There’s no better way of doing this than by entering your brew into a few local contests. Not only will this help people get to see you and your brand, but it will also give you the chance to receive valuable feedback from interested customers. Plus, it’ll give you all the bragging rights if your brew comes out the winner.

Final thoughts

So there you have it. Treat this guide as your home brewing’s holy grail and you’ll be a true brewmaster before you can even say the word ‘fermentation’. Now, after all this talk of beer, I’m off down the pub. Hope to see your brew down there soon.

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