Brew With Us: How do you know your homebrew is ready to drink? Here are instructions on conditioning your beer and how to serve it.

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The only way to see if your beer is ready to drink is to try it! After bottling, you should leave your beer untouched for at least 10 days to “condition,” but after that, you are ready to start tasting. If you don’t like how it tastes at first, don’t worry — beer will continue to age and improve in the bottle over the next few weeks. It should taste best after about a month in the bottle.

Conditioning your beer

Brewing timeline

What we’ll accomplish in the weeks ahead Share your beer: Let us know how your brewing project goes and share photos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #brewwithus. We'll feature your stories and photos.

Your beer will be done conditioning in the bottle and ready to drink after 10 days, but aging the beer longer will likely improve the flavor. Continue to store the beer in a cool, dark location and taste periodically until you’re happy with it. Move a few bottles of beer to the fridge before tasting.

Serving your beer

A small amount of yeast sediment will be at the bottom of each bottle — storing the beer upright will ensure that it stays at the bottom. Pour your beer into a glass slowly to make sure that the sediment stays in the bottle and doesn’t end up in your glass. The sediment is fine to drink, but can add yeasty off-flavors to the beer.

Inspect the color, carbonation and smell of your beer, and take notes! (Here is a handy reference on how to describe your beer.)

Dennis Elsasser, from Bremerton, takes in the color of an IPA from Black Raven Brewing at the Washington Brewers Festival in 2011.
Dennis Elsasser, from Bremerton, takes in the color of an IPA from Black Raven Brewing at the Washington Brewers Festival in 2011.

How is beer made?

Water + malt + hops + yeast. Learn what goes into beer and the processes in brewing.

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Off-flavors to look for when tasting your beer:

Some off-flavors will disappear over time, but if other bad flavors persist after a month or more in the bottle, that indicates something may have gone wrong during the brewing process. Pinpointing these off-flavors will be instructive in figuring out any errors that were made along the way. John Palmer provides an excellent beginner’s guide to identifying common off-flavors and their causes.

What now?

Now, it’s time to drink, share and enjoy your beer. And that’s it! This hobby can become as advanced as you’d like, and frustrating at times with the inevitable mishaps that all homebrewers encounter — but we hope you keep with it.

Leave us a comment with tasting notes and share photos of your beer on social media using the hashtag #brewwithus. Or email us at homebrew@seattletimes.com. Thanks for brewing with us!