A Homebrewer’s Challenge: If you ever find yourself stuck

It’s okay to explore your creative brewing side if that’s what brings fun into your homebrewery. Make sure you’re being true to your own passion. Photo by Jeremy Railey

I want you to create your very own beer style. I’m not talking about creating something for the masses or an award-winner that will be loved by friends and judges alike (although, kudos to you if you do!). Rather, I want you to create the beer that is perfect for you, brewed your way, and with the ingredients you want. I understand that this may sound a bit corny, something you might read in a self-help book, but just hear me out.

As the second-generation owner of Great Fermentations homebrew shop based in Indianapolis, Indiana, I see and hear a lot of what’s going on in the brewing minds of my customers. Not only from my current day-to-day time here, but also from the years spent helping my parents as a kid . . . back before homebrewing was as cool as it is now. What I found then and what I still find today is that many of you are stuck! Stuck on what to brew and how to brew it, all because you are worried about what others may think of your beer or what others are saying about how one should brew beer.

My goal with this challenge is to get you unstuck from indecision and free you up to brew the best beer for you.

They’re Opinions not facts

Don’t get me wrong, there are some tried-and-true methods and ingredients to use when brewing beer, but much, if not most of the information you read online or in a book is a matter of opinion. While some experiments offer scientific evidence to back up their findings, at the end of the day they all fail to research the most important thing — what the beer does for you. Homebrewing is a hobby and what it does for you is what matters most.

While some experiments offer scientific evidence to back up their findings, at the end of the day they all fail to research the most important thing — what the beer does for you.

I know some of you more “traditional” brewers will scoff at what I just said but I want you take a minute and ask yourself why you brew how you brew. Focus on a specific aspect of your brewing and really break down the origins of what you do. I think you’ll find that it is based on opinion, whether it be yours or someone else’s. It is what works for you, based on your experience, your knowledge, your surroundings, and ultimately it creates a beer that you like.

Break free from the “rules”

We get to try all sorts of beer working at a homebrew shop and a lot of the beers I have tried have helped shape my opinion on this. But none more so than a Peanut Brittle Brown Ale made by one of our longtime customers, Jeremiah Tyson. This beer is so good and yet if you read the recipe, it breaks SO many “rules,” like using reverse osmosis water without minerals, a no-sparge method, and keeping diacetyl. He landed on this beer by first having the idea and then he continued testing different combinations and tinkered with this and that until he landed on a true winner; something that not only he loves to drink but others do as well.

So, break free from all that holds you back from trying something new. Don’t worry about what that troll in the online forum thinks about your recipe idea or your custom brewing setup. Have you ever tried that guy or girl’s beer anyways? Chances are they are just as stuck as you are and are being held back by other people’s opinions.

By all means, if you have questions about what you’re trying to do, feel free to shoot us an email at We would love to lend our experience as you create your best batch. We’ve made lots of beer and have screwed up a lot as well. But that’s part of the journey and we’d love to help you out on yours.

Issue: May-June 2022