Which are the easiest beer styles to brew at home?

Beer Hawk's beer buyer and resident homebrew expert Mark James goes through some of the beers you should be starting your homebrewing careeer with

Now that the options are clearer in terms of ‘how deep does one want to plunge?’ (see article here), let us look at some styles of beer that are conducive to a successful first brew.

Contrary to what one might think, given the prevalence of lager in our shops and its de facto position as the default beer of planet Earth, lager is in fact an advanced and tricky style to make. This is because its clean, crisp character leaves no place for brewing faults to hide, and the necessary long period of cold conditioning (lagering) requires a dedicated fridge for your beer to sit in (try explaining that to your nearest and dearest).

At the other end of the spectrum there is a burgeoning interest in the fascinating world of sour

Which are the easiest beer styles to brew at home?

Beer Hawk's beer buyer and resident homebrew expert Mark James goes through some of the beers you should be starting your homebrewing careeer with

Now that the options are clearer in terms of ‘how deep does one want to plunge?’ (see article here), let us look at some styles of beer that are conducive to a successful first brew.

Contrary to what one might think, given the prevalence of lager in our shops and its de facto position as the default beer of planet Earth, lager is in fact an advanced and tricky style to make. This is because its clean, crisp character leaves no place for brewing faults to hide, and the necessary long period of cold conditioning (lagering) requires a dedicated fridge for your beer to sit in (try explaining that to your nearest and dearest).

At the other end of the spectrum there is a burgeoning interest in the fascinating world of sour beers, but for that you’ll need either a saint’s patience as you allow outlandish yeast or even bacteria to work their slow magic over several months – possibly rendering your equipment unsanitary forevermore – or careful use of a book of litmus papers for measuring pH, which most of us haven’t refamiliarised ourselves with since we last lit a Bunsen burner. The styles overleaf have been chosen as great options for the new homebrewer.

Porter: Once, in my irrepressible desire to make beer, I brewed 21 litres of porter shortly before a large-scale life relocation from one side of the country to the other. The unfortunate beer travelled two hundred miles in the back of a white van and sat in its fermenting tank for six weeks in an unheated storage facility, only to be reclaimed and bottled months after its conception. And the result? Pretty good! The ever-faithful porter is a hardy and forgiving beer, and a great choice for a first brew. With caramel, roast, sweetness, hops and bitterness all permitted, there’s a margin for error and experimentation.

American Pale Ale: A great option whether you’re brewing with extract or grain, the American pale ale is of course a mainstay of the craft beer world and is about one thing: hops! Now you’re a homebrewer, you deserve to experience hops in their fresh and pungent glory.

American pales usually use clean yeast strains leaving little character of their own, and a simple malt bill. Treat yourself to a bag of juicy Citra, Simcoe, Centennial, Columbus or Chinook hops, and be sure to bung a load in right at the end of your boil, or even after you’ve turned the flame off. Stick more in the fermenter. This will likely be the freshest beer you’ve ever tasted!

Brown Ale: The brown ale has less dark malt character than a porter or stout, but offers ample opportunity to try steeping grains. Furthermore, you can imitate the British brown ales and go after fruity, yeasty flavours, or pursue the American style with more pronounced earthy hops.

Saison: This spicy farmhouse style might at first seem an odd suggestion on account of its more obscure origins, but it has two things working in favour of any new brewer. Firstly, “saison” seems to be an increasingly nebulous style in the world of craft beer.

Is it tart? Is it hoppy? Is it zesty and refreshing? All these characteristics can appear in varying degrees in saisons. Secondly – and this is paraphrased from the mouth of a certain well-esteemed craft brewer of saisons whom Beer Hawk have recently featured – much like other Belgian styles we know and love, saison is all about the yeast. A saison yeast will do the work for you.

Beer Hawk is just about to launch a huge range of home brew equipment. For now, explore our brew kits here.