It's not quite there.

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by wolfie7873, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. wolfie7873

    wolfie7873 Member

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    I know there's not a magic pill to homebrew success, but so far I've only had one beer I've felt turned out "right." Most of the beer I make is drinkable (not all, sadly), but I think I formulate a recipe that will taste a certain way, and I'm typically a bit disappointed. I've been brewing small batches of various styles to try to build experience with as many grains as possible. I guess I'm looking for a "buck up, kiddo" from someone who finally figured "it" out with their own setup and was able to make a house brew for themselves that they prefer over most commercial beer which is my ultimate goal. I want to one day have two or three styles on tap at my house that are enjoyed by many, not just by those who wish to humor me and drink for free.
     
  2. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    Ive brew some fantastic beer but to tell you the truth my favorite "go to beers" are mellow session styles and those can be made easily with home made extract recipes on the stove, the trick Ive found is I'm a fanatic about fermentation temperature, I have a temperature chamber I built with an stc 1000 controlling it and I keep a probe in a thermowell in the wort and one in the air and monitor daily, since doing this my beer has really started to shine

    heres a couple I like very well

    http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/r ... er-extract

    http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/r ... /toddlight

    another thing thats made a huge difference is using cold crashing with gelatin after fermentation, this process has turned an ok beer into a really good beer
     
  3. wolfie7873

    wolfie7873 Member

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    As far as cold-crashing goes. Is that for kegging, specifically, or can you bottle after crashing as well, provided you give a longer conditioning time to accommodate the reduction of suspended yeast?
     
  4. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    you can crash in a secondary, use gelatin in that vessel after a week then you would need to warm up to bottle and carbonate, kegging is much easier you slow carb while crashing near freezing
     
  5. MrBIP

    MrBIP Active Member

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    I have a bummer every now and then too, but am generally pleased with what I brew. ... just do a lot of research of existing recipes (there's plenty here, BYO has a lot), to sanity check what you are creating. Also, some of the sites that sell kits will give you the whole recipe, just click on "additional information" or "view instructions"... I hijack NorthernBrewer all the time and then just tweak from there.

    I agree with OMB, really getting fond of more sessionable, mellow, lower ABV beers.

    And, yes, ferment temp is huge. I like the results at much lower temperatures most of the time. And I would also say give everything a few weeks in cold storage to let everything clear and flavors to come together.
     
  6. Hammer One Brewhouse

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    Don't beat yourself up over having a few issues and not getting the expected results that you are looking for. If you are looking for a stand by beer and something you can duplicate, first you have to ask yourself this question. What kind of beer do I prefer? Myself, I'll pass up just about everything for an English Bitter and that is my session beer that's just about always on tap. There are only four ingredients in beer. Grain, Hops, Yeast and Water. Water is 90% of your beer and not something to be overlooked. You can have the best recipe, brew everything perfectly and if you use the wrong water your results will be disappointing. My advice would be if you are using tap water run it through a good filter first. The other issue that I have noticed that has caused me issues is sanitation. It sounds like you are bottling. If you are using Starsan to sanitize your bottles make sure that you rinse them with boiled water after sanitation to get any residue out. This is probably going to start a huge debate but I have had taste issues caused by Starsan. Whatever you do don't give up!
     
  7. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    forgot water, water can ruin a good beer, make sure you use a water with no chlorine taste in it
     
  8. MrBIP

    MrBIP Active Member

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    Not up for a huge debate; and don't really have enough info to debate, but I also rinse bottles with star san, let them dry an hour or so on the bottle tree and then fill 'em. No rinsing. No taste issues. Don't fear the foam.
     
  9. Hogarthe

    Hogarthe Well-Known Member

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    I think it might not be the Starsan, but the water you are mixing the starsan with. maybe your tap water has too much chlorine or something. have you tried mixing star san with distilled water?

    to the original topic, the most important thing I've found is temp control, in all phases of brewing. Make sure you have an accurate thermometer, for steeping if you're doing extract, and mashing if all grain. then make sure to cool the wort down enough before adding yeast, and definitely keep the fermenting wort at the right temp for the yeast. the yeast will work the temp up a few degrees in the process of fermenting, so if you want the fermenter at 65, you need to set the surrounding temp to 60, or so.
    Also, start with a good recipe. If you're coming up with something yourself, it is kind of a guessing game. If you start with a known to be good recipe, you should get good beer. You can then tweak it one change at a time to make it your own. One change at a time, so you can tell what works, and what change makes it worse.
     
  10. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    Also if your thinking star sans , use the correct amount, often I just pour a little in a spray bottle and shake it up, I found I was mixing too much, also don't use old star sans change it every year at least
     
  11. Hammer One Brewhouse

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    Told you I would probably start a debate with my comments about StarSan. I'm not knocking the stuff, I love it and use it all the time but StarSan is an acid and being a purist. I would rather that it wasn't a part of my beer. Rinsing with boiled water after sanitizing with StarSan is just my preference.
     
  12. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    I boil my whole system, through every hose and pipe before i brew, takes an extra hour but gives me assurance that everything is perfect from the start, you would be amazed how much gunk you get from so called clean equipment!
     
  13. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    This is all good advice from all these guy's, and it looks like you are trying to learn everything at once. Small batches will make even the slightest oops stand out. The main thing is to keep trying and recognize where your mistakes are and correct them.
    Glancing through your public recipes you are not brewing anything to far out there. The one thing I did notice is your mash temps, protein rests, alpha rests, beta rests, hold on a minute! Process and procedures should stay the same with the grains and hops changing the makeup of the beer. Once your process is evened out your beer will be more consistent to what you expect. Mashing grain is a very interesting process and can get as complicated as you want it to. Good beer can be made with cans of extract pre-hopped or with many different grains mashed at many different temperatures. Give yourself a break and stick with basics. Single mash temps, between 150 and 158. Most grains these days are fully modified so you can get good beer with consistent single temp mashes.
    Water for making beer can't contain chlorine, period. I have a friend on her 3rd batch and just convinced her of that(batch #2 was undrinkable). A simple carbon filter will solve most chlorine issues usually. Or grab some spring water off the shelf at the store. She was using a no rinse sanitizer from a public kitchen her sister got her that was chlorine based, honest mistake easily corrected.
    Step back, simplify and realize this is a great hobby that can be as simple or complicated as you make it. And learn to laugh at your mistakes. Everyone makes em. Just read this forum!
     
  14. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. I'd suggest "back to basics." Pick a simple recipe, say a blonde, and brew it until it tastes the same every time (I'm making an assumption that "the same" is good...). By varying recipes, processes, chemicals, water you're trying to hit a constantly moving target. Pick something simple and brew it repeatedly. When it tastes the same every time, you know you have a consistent, effective procedure, then start to add an ingredient here or there. And any of us who haven't dumped a batch haven't been brewing long, so don't let that bother you. SMASH beers are great for learning: Pale malt, one hop, one strain of yeast, brew until it's the same every time. Cheers!
     
  15. wolfie7873

    wolfie7873 Member

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    Thanks for the support everyone. I will definitely take a step back toward basics. Especially when it comes to mash rests. I feel like I've done a pretty good job recently with fermentation temperature, using a water bath to help moderate and monitoring often. Let's hope the breakthrough is close by.
     

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