While it is a passion of mine to help people make beer at home, I suppose it would be better to state that my passion is to help people to make the best possible beer at home.

To clarify, I seek to help home-brewers to identify and construct the beer they wish to make, a beer they can call their own. More often than not, my help is offered by way of advice.

The advice usually pertains to brewing practice, subtle tweaks, yeast suggestions, different malts to try, etc. Over the years of helping homebrewers I have tried my best, and failed at times, to keep the advice I offer free of my opinion, unless it is asked for. The removal of my personal opinion allows me to offer help based on mimicking the practices of professional brewers as best as possible in a home setting.

After all, we strive to create beer to meet the standard of the professional breweries around us, and those are some high standards here in Grand Rapids.

With the goal of helping homebrewers to make the best possible beer at home in mind, I created a poll of four possible answers to the question, “How can the average home-brewer make better/the best beer at home?”

The four answers in the poll were cultivated from my years in the industry and the popularly held beliefs of home brewers who were asked the same question.

NOTE: Before reading on, please note, this article is meant to offer broad advice to the average home-brewer, more specific and technical advice for the advanced class will be offered in following pieces.

Professional brewers from Founders, Brewery Vivant, Harmony, The Mitten, Pigeon Hill, Crankers, Pike 51, Osgood, and B.O.B.’s Brewery picked one of the following categories that they felt will help any brewer to make professional quality beer.

A. Fermentation temperature control
B. Proper yeast handling and pitching rates
C. Making the switch to all-grain brewing
D. Proper cleanliness and sanitation

Of the brewers polled, 63% percent chose D, and the remaining 36% chose A. None of the brewers chose either B or C.

It is important to note that while neither of those categories was chosen, a majority of the brewers, as well as I, believe that each of the above categories would prove vitally important for homebrewers to focus on throughout their home brewing career.

Time and time again brewers responded to my inquiry with a quip of this sort, “You can make a 10 gallon all-grain batch, but if you haven’t properly sanitized it’s all for not,” and I found their logic inescapable.

Having now learned what professionals find most essential to making beer, I intend to work with them on a four-part series focusing on each of the above categories in the order that the brewers chose them. Beginning with proper cleanliness and sanitation I will work with industry professionals to attempt to provide homebrewers with A Professional Approach to Home Brewing.

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery