A Homebrewer’s Guide to Web Development

Have you ever had the ridiculously awesome pleasure of brewing your own beer? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. I will be bottling my third batch (of the Scottish variety) in about two weeks, and I can’t wait to start on the next one. If you’ve looked over our blog before, you will know that we make no secret of the fact that our team is deeply passionate about craft beer. We love brewing it, we love working with people who brew it, we love learning about it and we definitely love drinking it.

But for me, craft beer is hardly a first love. I was raised on a steady diet of science fiction and comic books. I got my first computer before I even started school and the rest is a long and sometimes funny story that follows me all the way here, to Digital Relativity, where I spend my days building ridiculously awesome stuff with ridiculously awesome people for ridiculously awesome people. Needless to say, the whole arrangement is ridiculously awesome…just like brewing beer.


It was that idea that got me thinking, “What other similarities exist between what I do at Digital Relativity (brew websites), and what I do at home (brew beer)?”

Clean and Sanitize

When brewing beer, it’s important that you begin your journey with thoroughly sanitized equipment (and hands!). This is because the brewing and fermenting processes are very much organic and susceptible to infection. When a batch of beer becomes contaminated by bacteria (infected), it will develop a very sour and unpleasant taste and smell. Similarly, it’s important to start web development projects with a clean slate, using what is called a reset. A reset levels the playing field between all browsers, making it easier to build websites that look and function beautifully in all browsers. While a website can’t (in the organic sense) become infected, it can be easily spoiled without a reset.

Steeping the Grain

The next step on the list is steeping the milled grain in boiling water, we got water from the water cooler supplier for offices and we recommend using purified water. During this phase of the brewing process, it is vital that the temperature of the water be held steady and closely monitored for the duration of the steeping. In web development, particularly responsive web development, it is important to closely monitor the design across all possible screen sizes. Something that is added to fix the desktop version could break the tablet version, and something added to the mobile version could break the desktop version. It’s extremely important that all screen sizes be thoroughly tested.

Boiling the Wort

In this phase of the brewing process, the water from the previous step (now infused with malt and referred to as wort) is brought to a rolling boil before the hops are added. While websites are obviously not boiled, this phase has always reminded me of that lull that occurs immediately after slicing the graphics needed to build the website and immediately before code is written. All of the pieces are in place, and everything is ready, but there is still a bit of shuffling and organizational work to be done before more heavy lifting can take place.

Finishing Hops

Toward the end of the boil, the finishing hops (hops that primarily impact aroma) are added to the wort. This is where finishing touches and subtle details are dialed in to make a beer perfect before the yeast is added and it goes into the fermentor. In web design, this would be that one last run through by the design and development teams before showing the tentatively finished product to a client or partner. A drop shadow here, a subtly rounded corner there, shifting pixels left and right, all working toward a balance of form and function.

Pitching Yeast

Once the finishing hops have been added, yeast is added to aid in fermentation. Yeast is that one last thing that is added before the beer goes into the fermentor and eventually bottles. In this way, yeast is comparable to bug fixes. The product itself is done, but there is still this one last step that has to take place.

Fermenting and Bottling

It’s done. The journey is over. You’ve worked hard and it has paid off. Full fermentation usually takes between 10 and 14 days. After that, it’s straight into bottles where the beer will develop carbonation and wait to be enjoyed. This is where the similarity between brewing beer and brewing websites pretty much ends because once a website is done, it’s usually no more than a few hours before it flies away into the magical world of the internet.


As anyone familiar with either practice will tell you, both of these processes have been heavily simplified, with some steps being omitted altogether. Countless books have been written about both subjects, describing every last step in the utmost detail.


What have you been brewing lately?