The samplers at various brewpubs is also a great way to try different styles, pick your favorite from the 4-5 or so they serve and then finish off the evening with a pint of your favorite from that group.
I'm also feeling the Great Lakes beers being a native of Michigan. Next time I'm at my parents' house in Ohio or I make my way up to Detroit (1st Saturday in April hopefully!), I'll check for it.
Finally, I'm assuming the higher the IBU score, the less bitter the beer is usually?
Duke | Mirecourt | Detroit| The U | USA
Like Lavabe said, this is probably a good time of year as heavier beers (porters and stouts) become replaced by wheat beers, etc. From your description of what you've tried and liked, you'll probably do well with the various summer offerings that breweries produce. Watch out for hoppy beers though which are also common this time year and might be tougher when starting out in trying new beers..
Beer brewing is like chess-- the rules are really very simple, it's becoming a master that's hard.
But for a starter, it's good to remember that there are really only five core steps to brewing beer.
- Boil grains or grain extracts for an absolute minimum of twenty minutes (preferably longer)
- Add hops somewhere during the back half of the boil
- After the boiled product (called "wort") has cooled below 75 degrees, add brewing yeast
- Cover and put in a dark place to ferment* till fermentation is complete (approx 1 week)
- Add bottling sugar and bottle the beer.
*(use a vent or fermentation lock, unless you want to experience the "devildeac effect.")
Do these five things and you will get an eminently drinkable beer. Of course, eminently drinkable can always be improved upon, and that's where the mastery (and a lot of the fun) come in.
Homebrewers are prone to a bit of passion, so go in knowing that you will receive conflicting advice. My take is that on matters that are critical, there is little debate.
Key among these matters is cleanliness. Wild yeast is ubiquitous and wants to get into your wort (that, btw, is one of the key things the 20+ minute is for-- killing wild yeast). Once the boil is over and has cooled, your primary concern is contamination with wild yeast-- which actually ferments fine, but tastes funky.
Try to make sure that anything which touches your wort AFTER it cools has been sterilized. Don't get nutty about it-- brewer's yeast is bred to successfully ferment in wort even with some competition from wild yeast-- but just be aware.
If you know someone that's into homebrewing, see if you can talk them into being there for your first brew, or giving an assist with purchases or whatnot. Homebrewers are generally pretty up for that kind of thing. It's not that hard, but doing it once with a coach will make it a lot easier.
http://www.tastybrew.com/newrcp/styleview.html has a bunch of recipes, you will be looking for the extract versions. One thing you could do, is make the 5 gallon batch and share with friends, just ask them to return the bottles.
I've got to adjust some of these instructions. Not trying to step on your toes, I've just got a lot of experience to help you out.
Also, the water you use is a huge ingredient, right? I suggest using spring water from the store. It's easy to control your volume, and you know it is clean. It's also cheap, a buck a gallon. DO NOT use distilled water!
One last note, do not boil your grains if you have any, only steep them. So if your kit has specialty grains, you make a tea for about 45 minutes, keeping the temperature at a steady 150-165 degrees. DO NOT go over 170! Once your tea is finished, you add your extracts to it and start boiling at that point.
Ymm, beer denizens, I need your words of wisdom.
As some of you may know, I am relocating from California to Charlotte, NC in May. I have some craft brews that I'd like to bring back with me, but I'm not sure about the best way to get them from point A to point B.
Here's my situation:
1. I'll be traveling cross-country with my buddy, making many stops along the way.
2. Not sure how many stops, but we're thinking the trip will take about a week give or take a few days. We're planning on not planning any thing specific but doing as much as possible.
So what's the most desirable way to transport? Can I get by without using a cooler? Some of the beer is currently refrigerated, some isn't. How hot is too hot?
Chili is a stew
Most of Great Lakes Brewery's collection is a bit high on the IBUs for someone who hasn't gotten used to bitters, but the ones I suggested should be okay.
FWIW, devildeac is 100% correct on going with samplers if you go to a local microbrew.
Pre-ManU vs. Liverpool Cheers,
I should also report that after my rec basketball game, I went out with some friends to watch the game, and I had a Sam Adam's Winter Lager. I liked it! The Project's going well so far!
Duke | Mirecourt | Detroit| The U | USA
In her honor I say "man". I used to call everyone "man" back then, including females. It was a bad habit, and it drove her nuts. Cheers to Laura!
I used to work 2 blocks from the Brickskellar! Needless to say, it got a lot of my happy hour $$. I tried hard to never order the same brew twice. Only thing that I didn't like was their lack of draught beers; sounds like they have a new space in Chinatown for that - may have to visit next time I get to DC.