What is the best type of beer to brew for a beginner?
I always recommend an Ale of some kind.
For a beginner beer I always want to advise something that is a little simpler so that the beginner will have a better chance of success. I want them to keep brewing!
So, I would stay away from lagers, as they often require more equipment to keep cool. I also would stay away from sour beers as they can be more finicky.
I'll often recommend something with some character to it: either a little hoppy, like a pale ale, ipa, or american amber, or something roasty like a stout, etc. That way there's some grain/hop flavor to mask potential beginning mistakes.
But the best advice, I think, is to pick a beer the beginner likes to drink. There's no point making a beer you don't want to drink.
I agree with sgwill, but I would add that you also want to pick a style that can be done with just extract + hops + yeast. Not having additional grains to steep cuts time and effort off of that first brew day. One of the best I've used is a simple hefeweizen: 6-8 lbs. wheat LME + 1oz. tettnanger (60 mins) + Wyeast 3068 (Weihenstephan Weizen). Easy to brew, very tasty, conditions quickly.
Wheat beers (hefeweizen/wit) are considered to be particularly good for beginners for the following reasons:
- They're expected to have fairly high ester and phenol profiles, which can mask other undesirable flavours.
- They can tolerate a fairly wide range of fermentation temperatures, and the higher end of the range gives more of the banana/bubble gum flavours as above. This makes them ideal for brewing in an apartment which will be >20c the whole time, and/or if you don't have a way to accurately control (especially lower) the temperature.
- They are highly carbonated and perfectly suited to bottle carbonation, which is generally convenient for a beginner (no gas/kegs required).
- They are not expected to clear (for the yeast to flocculate and fall out of suspension) before drinking, and they don't require long conditioning for any other flavour-related reasons, so can be drunk practically as soon as carbonation is complete (~2 weeks).
If you like the style then these are great beers to make! I am a beginner, and have made a couple of these from all grain recipes, both times with satisfying results.
I don't think the exact kind of beer matters, but I think you would be best with something like this:
- Simple beers that only have a bittering component will take less effort than more complicated pale ales that have bittering, flavoring and aroma hops.
- Something that is not high gravity. You want to start with something that is OG 1.070 or less, it just makes the whole progress easier.
- Use dry yeast. You have a a whole bunch more yeast cells with the dry yeast. You don't need to make a starter and its cheaper.
- Do a malt extract beer with some grains, but do not start with a mini-mash or all-grain.
- Get a recipe kit from a home brew store that does not require a secondary fermenter.
- Do it this time of year (at least in the south eastern us where the avg temp is in the 60s) so you do not have to use a temperature controlled fridge.
- Buy 22 oz bottles so the bottling process goes easier.
- Use a sanitizer that you can buy from a home brew store. I do not recommend using bleach.
Above all, you do need to brew something that you like, otherwise you won't want to progress and relax, have a home brew!