Beer School

The Etiquette of Brewing Beer at Home

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)
(Image credit: Henry Chen)
  • Today’s topic: How to be a polite, considerate homebrewer
  • The Kitchn’s Beer School: 20 lessons, 7 assignments to brew your first 1-gallon batch of beer.
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Let’s take a break from our big homebrewing discussions today and talk about something that doesn’t always come up: the etiquette of brewing beer at home. Specifically, how to share your home with the non-brewing members of your household without driving everyone completely batty with your new favorite hobby. (Here’s a hint: Always share your homebrew.)

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)
(Image credit: Henry Chen)

5 Tips for a Considerate Homebrewer

Generally speaking, you tell someone that you’re thinking about doing some homebrewing and their first response will be, “Great! When do I get a bottle?” Ply your spouses, partners, and roommates with the promise of free beer, and it’s not surprising you’ve won an ally.

Yes, beer is a good start, but if you want to keep that ally there are a few things you might want to consider:

1. Understand that not everyone loves the smell of beer as much as you do.

The aroma of mashing grains and boiling wort has a way of permeating your entire home. You might think that smell is awesome, but your fellow housemates might not. There’s not much you can do about this one — if your partner hates the smell of hops, then … they hate the smell of hops. But it’s not game over on your homebrewing dreams.

What to Do: Strategic scheduling. If your partner or housemate hates beer-brewing aromas, talk it over and figure out an afternoon when they’ll be out of the house. As soon as the door closes, get brewing — and open a few windows for good measure.

2. Always clean up after your brew day (always!).

This might go without saying and I don’t mean to nanny you, but it’s a big deal. At the end of a brew day, not only are there pots and strainers to clean, but there are sticky drips all over the counter, bits of packaging strewn about, and a huge pile of grains that needs to be discarded. Those grains, in particular, will start to get extremely stinky if left out on the counter overnight. A roommate walking into this situation, especially if it’s been left “for later,” might very well feel their blood pressure rise.

What to Do: The best strategy here is one of avoidance. As in, avoid the confrontation by staying on top of cleanup duty. As much as you might want to collapse on the couch after your beer is done, take 15 minutes to make sure the kitchen is back to normal.

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

3. Decide on storage space together.

Nothing gets on non-brewers nerves faster than constantly having to move bottles out of the way to get a jar of tomato sauce or having a mess of tubing fall on their heads every time a cupboard is opened.

What to Do: Once you get your equipment and have an idea of how much space you’ll need, talk it over with your roommate and find a spot for storing everything that works for both of you.

4. Respect the fear of exploding bottles.

One concern your spouse or partner may have about your homebrew hobby is the risk of exploding bottles. Which, yes, does happen from time to time, even to the best of homebrewers.

What to Do: The best way to address this fear is to store your bottles of homebrew somewhere safe, like inside a plastic bin or cupboard. This way, if a bottle does explode, both the explosion and the mess left behind are contained. No one needs to worry.

5. Take beer requests!

Assuming your roomies like beer, you will certainly have no trouble convincing them to share in the fruits of your labor. But it’s possible they might grow weary of your experiments with jalapeños or “experimental” sours.

What to Do: Keep on their good side by occasionally brewing their favorite style or even trying a clone-brew of their favorite beer, even if it’s not your personal favorite. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get them hooked on homebrewing, too, and you’ll find yourself with a new brew partner.

What about you? What concerns (or complaints!) have your housemates had about your homebrewing? Any good strategies or advice?

Brew Better Beer: A Companion to Beer School

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

I love brewing beer so much, I wrote a book about it! Brew Better Beer (May 2015, Ten Speed Press) is a complementary guide to Beer School. Take a look for even more nerdy details about homebrewing, how to brew 5-gallon batches, and plenty of recipes for different beers.

→ Find it: Brew Better Beer by Emma Christensen

With The Kitchn’s Beer School, we’ll teach you how to brew your own beer at home — and brew it with confidence. In 20 lessons and 7 weekend assignments, we’ll get you set up with your own home brewery, walk you through your first brew day, show you how to bottle your beer, and then toast you on your first pint. Ready to brew your first beer? Join us!