I'm proud to call myself a home brewer, but I often get an odd look from people when I tell them so. Their response is usually : "Oh....you home brew beer. Like...... in one of those Mr. Beer things?" My answer is always a balancing act between being too direct, or not direct enough. The direct version being: "No, it's nothing like Mr. Beer. It's just like (insert local craft brewery)." But where does the stigma from home brew come from, and how can we avoid it? Let's talk about methods to legitimize your beer others eyes, and make them excited to try it.

First Impressions
    First impressions are everything. No, seriously, I mean EVERYTHING. You'll never get that moment back, so ensure that peoples' first encounter with your beer is great. There's a few things that fall under this category. First, don't serve green beer, or a batch that isn't your best. There's no amount of explaining that will fix a bad tasting beer, and there's no way they'll be excited to try your beer again. Secondly, pour the beer into a nice glass for your tasters. If you bottle condition, make damn sure you decant the beer well so that there isn't yeast floating in the glass. The Bud Light they're used to doesn't have yeast floating in it, and that's what you'll be measured against. Before they try it, explain to them what makes your beer better than the beers they usually drink (small batches, crafted recipes, no adjuncts, not pasteurized, more flavor, etc). These things go a long way.

    Packaging is huge. If you know that people who are unfamiliar with home brew will be trying your beer, print out some labels. I can't even tell you how far this goes. A blank bottle looks homemade; A bottle with a label looks like a product you'd buy from the store. There's a number of easy ways to make labels. BeerLabelizer makes the process easy, or you can make your own with image editing software. I then order color prints from FedEx Online, as I can pick them up at my local store. The prices are cheap (6 labels to a page, 70c per page), and they use nice thick paper. I simply cut out the labels, and fix them to bottles using a glue stick. It works great, washes off with hot water, but will stand up to some time in a wet cooler. It's a bit tedious, but well worth the effort.

    Along the same lines of packaging, let's talk about bottle conditioned beers. For the love of all that is holy, stop leaving a half inch of yeast in every bottle. No commercial beer on the market has a half inch of yeast at the bottom, and neither should yours. Either rack to a secondary, or leave your beers in the primary long enough for the vast majority of the yeast to floc out. Be careful when racking your beer into the bottling bucket to pickup as little yeast as possible during the transfer. If even then you're having issues with excess sediment, trying fining your beer with gelatin prior to bottling. Don't worry, even after fining there will still be plenty of yeast left to carbonate the beer. Use a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale as your benchmark for what a bottle conditioned beer should look like, as even if you shake up a SNPA, the beer is still relatively clear when poured into a glass.

    Home brewers know that clarity has little effect on taste, but the average beer drinking population is used to drinking crystal clear light lagers. So take the extra steps to ensure your beer is sparklingly clear; cloudy beer is an almost-instant turnoff for most people. I've wrote about clear beer here, and how to use gelatin here. If you follow those steps, it shouldn't be hard to make beer that is brilliantly bright.

    Last, but not least, you should take yourself and your beer seriously. Give your brewery and your beers names. Maybe start a blog, or a Facebook page for your brewery. Another thing to do is print out some business cards. Vistaprint often runs specials where you can get a box of cards for like $5. Even if you have absolutely no intentions of actually becoming a commercial brewery, it's kind of fun to have a business card. The point being, the more seriously you take your beer, the more seriously others will.

Putting It All Together
    When you put all the little things together, what you're left with is a professional-looking product from a professional-sounding brewer. Anyone who tries your beer will never associate it with the likes of a Mr. Beer kit. Give your brewery and beers names, make some labels, pour your clear beer into a clean glass, and you'll have plenty of folks excited to try your home brewed beer.


  1. Hey man - What type of fedex paper do you use for your labels? Thank you and great blog.

  2. I am finding that I don't need to convert any BMC drinkers. I live in the UK/London (though I am Irish) and once my beer got to a good level, people start to get impressed, and can be forgiving of chill haze, or disturbed yeast from bottle conditioned beers (that have been trucked around the city in a backpack).

    Though it is really nice when the beer has great clarity and great head.


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