The great thing about brewing your own beer is that you can be good at it starting out and get great at it over time. You can make each and every batch tasty and enjoyable but at the same time always be driven to make a better brew. Part of the function of home brewing contests and being part of your local brewers club is that you get those tips and learn from the old pros at brewing so month by month and year by year, your beer gets better and better.
One important thing that the real beer gurus know is what great chefs know and that is the quality of beer comes down to the freshness of the ingredients you use. One area you can improve on freshness is with the yeast you use for fermentation. A dry yeast is simply not as fresh as liquid yeast so that is where one small change can dramatically affect the freshness of your beer. Use this same approach with the grains, the hops and all the perishable ingredients that you need for a quality home brewed batch of beer.
But just as even if you buy fresh flour for bread, you freeze it to delay it getting stale and use proper refrigeration for all of your brewing ingredients. First of all, only buy the ingredients when the day you are going to brew is very near. And use as much as you can up in one batch. You will get a natural instinct for how much of each ingredient you need for a single run of brewing and eventually get to where you can buy enough, use it up the next day with little or no left over and in that way always be brewing with absolutely fresh ingredients. But even then, make some room in your freezer and refrigerator to slow down the aging of the things that make up your beer. Grains and yeast can go in the refrigerator and the rest in the freezer for a short time. Use your ingrediants up quickly. Don’t stock pile.
Temperature control is a central issue with all home brewing gurus who seek absolute control over the quality of their product. That first step of brewing which is the boiling of the grains and hops to make up the “wort” is a heat intensive operation. But once the time of your boiling phase is done, bring the temperature of the wort down very quickly. By dropping the temperature from boiling to cooler temperature at a very fast pace, you will reduce the contaminations in your beer and your final product will have a vastly better clarity which is a sign of a great beer. This is one little trick of the trade that may take some effort and maybe even specialized equipment like an immersion chiller for your wort but it will be worth it in the quality of beer that results.
Keeping the temperature of your finished beer constantly under control during fermentation is also a central issue with beer making gurus to make sure their beer is of the highest quality. If you are a devoted home brewer and want to buy a refrigerator just to devote to fermentation, that would be the best situation because you could carefully control the temperature.
But there are other methods many home brewers use to assure their fermenting beer says at a steady temperature. You can select the best spot in the house where the beer will remain relatively cool all day. Then wrap the fermenter up using wet towels and then put a fan on the wrapped beer. This uses the humidity of the water and the coolness that comes from the fan to keep the beer in the best possible environment to create truly great tasting beer.