Home Brew Problems and How to Avoid Them
What you Need to Know to Ensure you Don’t Have any Home Brew Problems
If you’re planning on home brewing beer, don’t let this home brew problems page change your mind. Although there are many things that can go wrong when home brewing, if you take the right precautions, follow instructions and sanitize everything, you’ll be golden.
Generally, home brew problems occur because someone got lazy, didn’t follow instructions or missed (or skipped) a step.
Below, we’ll outline some common home brew problems that can happen and, more importantly, how to prevent them.
Note: If you’ve come to this page and you’re looking for a step-by-step guide on how to home brew (with a home brewing kit), you can find that page HERE.
So, here are the most common home brewing problems that you may run into and how to prevent them.
Home Brew Problems #1: Flat Beer
- You didn’t add enough (or didn’t add any) priming sugar to the bottles after the initial fermentation.
- Faulty beer bottle seals. Whether you’re using screw on caps or metal bottle caps, you must ensure an airtight seal.
- Storing your home brew at low temperatures. To allow for the secondary fermentation of your brew (after the priming sugar is added), the home brew must be kept in a place that is between 21°C and 27°C (70°F-80°F) to allow fermentation to take place.
Home Brew Problems #2: Bad Head (the foam doesn’t stay long)
- Flat Beer. See above – if you’re beer is flat, it obviously won’t retain any head (foam).
- Dirty Bottles. Any grease, detergent, oil etc will inside your bottles will cause your home brew to go flat. Make sure you sanitize your bottles and rinse them well before filling.
- High Alcohol Content. If you add too much sugar to the wort, it could thin the final beer and cause a higher than normal alcohol percentage. And this can cause the head to dissipate quicker.
- Too Much Yeast. If you have excessive yeast in your bottles because you didn’t bottle it well, this will flatten the head.
Home Brew Problems #3: Gassy Beer / Exploding Beer Bottles
- You added too much priming sugar to the beer bottles. Generally, you’re looking for about 3 grams per 345-375ml bottle.
- You bottled pre-maturely. If you don’t let your home brew fully ferment before bottling, you are carrying over unfermented sugars and, when combined with the priming sugar, excess gas will be produced. This can be VERY dangerous – especially if you are using glass bottles as they can explode.
- Your home brew is infected. If infection occurs due to poor sanitization, your home brew can become over gassed.
Home Brew Problems #4: No Airlock Activity
- The lid or the airlock grommet are not properly sealing the fermenter. Many times people incorrectly assume that fermentation is not occurring because there is no bubbling activity going on in the airlock. When the reality is that fermentation is happening but the CO2 is escaping through a poorly sealed lid or airlock. If this happens to you, check for other signs of fermentation like: condensation inside the lid or if you see sediment building on the bottom of the fermenter.
Home Brew Problems #5: Fermentation Doesn’t Start
- Wort was too cold when the yeast was added. If your home brew mixture was too cold, it could start and stop the fermentation process or never start at all. If this happens, you can kickstart the process by standing the fermenter in hot water and stirring the mixture with a sanitized spoon. You’ll also want to move it to a warmer place.
- Yeast is no good. If your yeast has expired, it will not initiate the fermentation process. If that’s the case, just throw in another sachet of fresh yeast. Remember that the yeast sachet should be stored in a cool and dry spot prior to use.
Home Brew Problems #6: Beer Tastes Sour / Beer Smells Skunky
If this happens, its a sign that your home brewed beer is infected. And there are a number of reasons why this could have happened.
- When cleaning the fermenter after usage, be sure to only soak off the sediment on the bottom with hot water. And only use a soft cloth to clean the inside walls. Using a scouring pad or brush is a No-No. They can live scratches that harbour bacteria.
- Don’t delay in adding the yeast. Once you have your beer concentrate / water / sugar mixed together, add the yeast right away. A common mistake is to use too hot of water to begin with and then sit and wait until the mixture (wort) drops to the recommended range of 21°C – 27°C (70°F-80°F). The longer the wort is left without the yeast being added, the higher the chance of infection. Therefore, as long as the wort is anywhere within 5 degrees of the recommended range, go ahead and add the yeast.
Well, that pretty much covers the most common home brewing problems. If you are careful and ensure that you sanitize everything properly, you can avoid all these home brew problems and get great tasting homebrew every time. If your unfamiliar with all the equipment CLICK HERE for detailed information. Home brewing beer is a rewarding experience. Its just somehow cool to be able to enjoy a beer that you brewed yourself. And the fact that you can choose to home brew any flavour you want, just makes it that much better. Oh yeah, there’s something about it being healthier too – with no additives or preservatives, but that’s not exactly why we drink beer, is it? Anyway, cool to know.