If you are following along here on these pages, you may have recently made good progress on your pursuit of brewing beer at home. You may have thought about what beer homebrewing method you are going to use, have figured out what size batch you will take on, and have gotten your equipment ready. The next step is to figure out what beer recipe you want to brew up!
I think there are three key factors to consider (and maybe there are less, or more, depending on what you care about, and what you don’t care that much about – always remember there are really no rules, just guidelines. I would consider the following when picking a recipe to make…
#1 Well this is the most important one to me. What kind of beer do you LIKE? Everyone has different tastes. You might love stouts, IPAs or wheat beers. You might hate hoppy bitterness, or you might absolutely require it. You might want to try recreating one of your favorite lagers, or perhaps a belgian ale is what you thought of when you initially decided beer homebrewing was for you. So before you trek further, think of what you like and don’t like.
#2 To me, this is right up there after beer style preferences, as this factor is kind of important. What temperature environment will you be able to store your beer while it ferments? It’s important, as different styles (read first section) have different temperature zones that they will thrive in. For example, I have a hard time getting my kitchen or living room cooler than say 65 degrees. More likely, it is going to be 70 if I’m lucky. So, that means that I probably should hold off on making any lagers as they really need cooler temperatures than other ales or even saisons. So, you probably want to shorten the list you came up with on #1, and then find which beers can thrive in the temperature you are going to have available. Most recipes online will mention all the necessary details, including the yeast in use and the temperature range for that yeast.
#3 I have heard this piece of good advice in several places. For your first recipe, or your first couple of recipes even, follow the cardinal rule of K.I.S.S. That means “keep it simple, stupid!”. Basically, don’t tackle the most epic recipe you can think of at first. In fact, intentionally find one of the simplest recipes you can in the style that you like. Example, find a nice ipa or pale ale recipe, one that has maybe two grains and a single hop variety. This way you can just focus on the core brewing steps and make sure you get them all down nice. You can add more specialty grains, adjuncts, etc in future batches once you are an ace!
Once you have come up with “what you like”, “what you can ferment” and “what you can tackle”, you can then get ready to shop for the ingredients and get this thing started!
PS just as an example, here is the first recipe that I brewed ever, and it was nice yet simple. It has two grains, one hop, and came out pretty good (well, as good as can be for all the little mistakes I made). I use this as an IPA base recipe starter and modify from there. The timings, volumes, temperatures, etc were pretty attainable in my 1 bedroom apartment, fermenting under our dining room table all month 😛