Sunday, May 5, 2013

Review of Beginning Homebrew DVD

Beginning Homebrew pics from their website
A few days I ago, an email for Beginning Homebrew DVD was in my inbox.  I'm on innumerable email lists and other beer related sites, so I didn't think anything of it.  Reading closer, it was a request to review the DVD as a beer blogger.  First time I've had such a request, so it was pretty cool when I realized what it meant. The video is posted for free online temporarily at their website in honor of AHA Big Brew for National Homebrew Day.  So (with full disclosure that this is a prompted request), here we go.

In short, I found the advice to be sound and easy to digest, filled with pretty much all of the standard necessary advice for a novice homebrewer.  Plus, it fulfills one of the major requirements of learning how to brew: watch someone else brew.  Plus, on the website there's a brewing flowchart and a free E-book download that's a supplement to the video. Between the video and the online support, I'm quite convinced that a perfectly good batch of brew will be had with these directions. Probably the strongest part of the video is that it takes into consideration that different levels of commitment and resources available to a new brewer, and offers multiple suggestions for various parts of the brewing process.

I had a few minor issues with the video that I think could be improved upon to help neophytes.  First, some of the directions lacked clarity on brew day realities.  One thing, I'd consider moving the yeast section further up in the video to highlight the preparation.  Or, at least make a note in the flow chart that the yeast preparation can/should start earlier in the brew day so that it is ready for pitching when the wort is cooled.  Also, while the video shows how to pour in extract properly and gave examples of various types, using a bulk container for the actual demonstration rather than a more standard bottle or can seemed like an error to me.

Next, the video portion of the Getting Started section seemed to undercover what would be involved.  I can see where this would be a writing choice to not overwhelm a new brewer.  More information is listed in the E-Book, but it's not really explained in the video.  It feels to me that the clarity of what would be needed to actually get started is somewhat murky.

Finally, when I starting homebrewing, I found that the devil was in the details and that my anxiety came from those steps in the process that are rarely discussed in materials I've seen.  These would include how to pick and make sanitizer, and how to properly apply it to difficult objects like the bottom of the kettle lid (a use a spray bottle to coat it).  Plus, while covered, I think preparation and handling of the brew water could use more information; however, this may be more of a personal obsession since I am trying to gain more control over my brew water as an intermediate brewer.

Overall, Beginning Homebrewing does a good job for the novice brewer to get started and complete a batch or five.  My review above seems overly critical, but the video really has sound advice that is well written, delivered and easy to follow.  I suspect that a brewer who moves beyond those initial batches and needs some intermediate help will quickly need more advanced information for sources like Basic Brewing, which is inevitable regardless of where one starts.  But, this video will definitely get a new brewer started just fine.

1 comment:

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