We consume quite a bit of YouTube homebrewing content and for the most part, there are some really incredible brewers. Most of them are doing some cool and innovative things. Thinking about homebrewing in a lot of new ways. Which is super cool and inspires us to think outside the box where we’re brewing.
But watching into some of these channels you may clue into some things that don’t make sense. Or maybe just not the best practice. And we have compiled for you some of the practices which you don’t want to follow. Just skip them when making beer. They will not help you to create a great batch of beer.
And be sure to check out the most common brewing mistakes to make sure not to follow them in our new article Common Mistakes made by Homebrewers.
1. Bread Yeast
Often YouTube tutorials on how to make beer at home incorporate bread yeast. We are sure it will ferment. It will convert the fermentable sugars into alcohol. But that’s not what it is intended to do. Bread yeast is intended to create CO2 bubbles that will help your bread to rise. That’s its job. Not to make tasty alcohol.
Using a yeast that is general-purpose, made for baking, in something special as brewing is just a mistake. It will work. But you will have problems with flocculation and inconsistent alcohol tolerance for that yeast. Also, you may have problems with off-flavors in your beer. Yeast for brewing has been cultivated for specific flavor profiles. Bread yeast doesn’t do those things. Get brewing yeast.
2. Underthinking your Yeast
Sticking to one specific kind of yeast like EC-1118. This is incredibly reliable and ferments to very high alcohol tolerance. But it’s not putting a lot of thought into the flavor profile that your yeast can create. It’s not complimenting or adding depth to the beer you are brewing. We understand why YouTube channels are typically using this kind of yeast. They want to make sure beer ferments well. You can experiment with other kinds of yeasts. There are other options out there. Don’t stick to what you see on YouTube.
3. Flavor Extracts
We can definitely understand why YouTube brewing channels show brewing with flavor extracts. The science of flavor is complex and it has to do with a lot of compounds and ketones. They are responsible for creating the sensation on the palate of what you are tasting. You will see some flavor extracts that say they are natural flavors and sometimes that means they come from the fruit, herb, or spice that is listed on the bottle. But sometimes they’re just artificial flavoring.
Using flavor extracts doesn’t challenge the homebrewer to go outside their comfort zone in using natural ingredients. It’s more expensive but it will help you in building your skills as a homebrewer. You are going to learn so much more about the process than just using an extract in your beer. Fruit extracts will help you to understand what that flavor profile looks like. In the final product that you would serve to friends and family, The more interesting product is going to come by using all the real ingredients.
4. Extreme Experiments
It engages the viewer. We would caution homebrewers not to get too wrapped up and doing wacky experiments. Extreme experiments can take the homebrewer away from what they are brewing. We think the world would be a boring place if nobody went outside the box. But getting caught in that trap of constantly doing wacky stuff every single brew can be a disservice to yourself. Often simplicity can be the best option.
5. Spice and everything nice
There are a lot of homebrewing channels that love to pitch a ton of herbs and spices into their products. Also, there are some things to know about spice. Some palates perceive fermented spices in a vastly different way than non-fermented spices. Clove and cinnamon can taste soapy after fermentation. We prefer to put spices like that secondary, so they don’t undergo such an arduous fermentation process.
A lot of YouTube homebrewing content that focuses on heavy spice additions tends to be catered towards new brewers. It is really best practice for beginner brewer to learn how to do the basics before going on and dumping a bunch of spice into your beer. While it’s trendy to use cardamom and nutmeg in homebrewing right now. It’s also important to understand the basics of making something drinkable that you would be proud to share.
6. Raisins as a Nutrient
They are perfectly acceptable when adding body to your beer, The available nitrogen in a raisin is so small. You would have to add such a quantity of raisins to your homebrew that a 1-gallon jug would be full of them. And that is just to have available nutrients for the yeast to do their thing. Never mind the fact you have just made raisins wine at that point.
There are a lot of videos out there that will show you putting 25 raisins into your brew to give it some nutrients. There’s no nutrient in that. You’re adding body or raisin flavor. That’s all. Raisins are not nutrients for homebrewing. Use proper nutrients and don’t believe the Internet. Don’t put raisins in your homebrew unless you want to build up the body.
7. Mixing Measurements
This refers to the practice of using metric or imperial or using weight and volume instead of just using a consistent measurement. We see it in a lot of homebrewing videos. If you are developing a recipe with ingredients that can be inconsistent 1 cup today may not be equivalent to 1 cup tomorrow. You will never get the same measurement trying to measure by volume as if you just measured by weight. It makes so much more sense to create a recipe around weight than any other metric. At least it will be consistent.
8. Not Enough Fruit
It surprises us when we see homebrewing on YouTube that doesn’t use enough fruit when needed. It will harm you in the long run. It won’t impart enough flavor. If you are really trying to make a fruit-based product go all-in on the fruit.
9. Where is the water from?
We tend to use bottled spring water with added minerals for flavor. It’s a guaranteed source of sterile water and its tastes good. You can go to the next level and try treating your water. In the homebrewing videos, we often see water coming directly from the tap. You have to wonder what the chloride, fluoride, and mineral content is in that water. How those things are affecting the yeast and the fermentation process itself. Make sure you use sterile and good-tasting water to start out with.
10. Rush to Consume
There are ways to make something delicious and drinkable in a short period of time. A handful of homebrewing channels out there are drinking the stuff in such rapid succession there’s no way that it tastes good. It will probably taste good eventually but in 2 or 3 weeks it won’t. It needs time to age and mellow.
There’s this rush to put out content. How this translates to you like the YouTube viewer? You follow along with the recipe. Do all the practices just like you are seeing on the video. Drink it after a month and wonder why it tastes awful. Blaming yourself when in reality you may just need to put it in a dark space for another couple of months. It might taste great by then. Patience is fine in homebrewing. And as practices have improved we’ve been able to speed up the process along. Sometimes it’s just OK to wait