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Old 10-16-2012, 05:11 PM   #1
bruceb07
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I have been brewing for a little over a year now. I have brewed 8 batches of beer and 10 batches of wine. I have had some good batches, some not so hot and have had to waste 1 batch due to a sanitation problem however, I have hit a wall. I have not found that favorite beer and in the end, as they age, they all kind of taste the same with no real distinction between them. I have used extract, partial mash, and all grain methods with the same results.

So here are my questions......

Am I expecting too much???

Whats next??

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Old 10-16-2012, 05:17 PM   #2
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If they all taste the same, change your recipes. You should expect no less than your favorite micro brewed beer. Its just a matter of fixing and completing your process to acheive the same result.

If you aren't already. I'd start with fermenting temperature control, then grab a well proved recipe from this site's database and go from there.

Is it a bad taste that they all seem to have? If so, describe it. Those here can usually pinpoint your issue.

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Old 10-16-2012, 05:28 PM   #3
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I watched a speach by some big name homebrewer once and it made a lot of sense. He said as homebrewers we often try to do too much with our beer. adding this ingredient for this reason and another for another reason until our recipe has 6-10 ingredients. They all end up tasting the same. His advice was to brew simple recipesand then change those if needed. I highly recommend looking into the SMASH topics on this thread. Some of my favorite beers are very simple recipes with technique that make up for it. Stone Ruination is just pale malt and crystal 40 with magnum and centennial hops. Fullers ESB is english pale and crystal (same as thier london pride and golden pride) So try some very simple recipes and focus on technique. Longer boils, late hop bursting, and temp control ( nopt to mention proper yeast pitches and fermentation schedules). You haven't really been brewing that long so give yourself a break and keep improving! I have been brewing for over 8 years and still am working on my "perfect" english bitter recipe.

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Old 10-16-2012, 06:10 PM   #4
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Maybe try two kits from a respected supplier, with contrasting styles - like a brown ale and an English Bitter. Then, if they still taste the same, you would know it's something about your process.

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Old 10-16-2012, 06:21 PM   #5
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Do you like craft beer? If so, then you can brew the same thing (probably) at home. If you like IPAs, then you can make an IPA like your favorite with proper techniques and fresh ingredients. Stout? Same thing.

There are factors not associated with the mash technique that can influence your beers flavor. Water will have it's own profile. Different places have different minerals and things that influence the flavor. Some places treat their water with chlorine or chloramine. It can be hard to taste chloramine in the water but the beer might have a very noticeable flavor after fermentation.

Speaking of fermentation, different yeasts will influence recipes' tastes. So can under-pitching and over-pitching, and fermentation temp. These are not things that will change just because you mashed some grain instead of opening a can of malt extract. So they can carry over and give similar flavor to all of your beer.

I have not found a "favorite" beer either. I like a wide variety of styles. If I were you I'd find a commercial beer style you like a lot and try to make it. Post your recipe, brewing process, and fermentation process here and we can help you nail that style.

Brewing more batches isn't going to help if you are doing 1 thing wrong.

So cheer up, find that beer, and let us help you tweak your process.

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Old 10-16-2012, 07:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbauer013 View Post
Some of my favorite beers are very simple recipes with technique that make up for it.
+1 to this. I know a lot of brewers have a "kitchen sink" approach to grainbills and hopping schedules, which to me glosses over the most important component of the brewing process--the PROCESS. There's so much you can do just by changing your brewing technique--temps, rests, ferment schedule, etc. that will make your beers truly yours.

One thing I like to do is to periodically (like every three months or so) brew through my three "stock" beers--an ESB, a stout and a brown ale. I've made these beers probably 25x a piece over the last several years, but each time I try something a little different--instead of a single-rest mash, I try a multi-stage mash, or instead of a 60 minute hop addition, I try a FWH addition. I add a lb. of biscuit, or victory, or whatever other type of malt seems interesting, just to see how it changes my result. I know pretty well what my base beer will taste like for these three, so if, for example, I increase my mash rest to 156F from 153F, I can figure out how that changes the result.

These three are my basic test beers because they're the ones I like the most, English ales that are in my favorite styles. Other folks undoubtedly do the same with American-style IPAs, or dunkels, or whatever. No matter the beer style you can create huge variations by making changes to your process.

Maybe pick a single beer style and try to make as many different versions of it as you can (high gravity/low gravity, high IBU/low IBU, malt forward/hop forward, American yeast/English yeast/continental yeast, single rest/multistage infusion rest/decoction, etc). You could make small batches (like 1 gal) of each so you don't end up with 40 gal of one style of beer. I would guess you'll be surprised at how much variety you have available once you think about how you can change your process, how many different beers you can make that are all within one category.
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:08 PM   #7
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Through my experience (not as long as others here, but enough), I have stumbled upon 3 "house/staple" beers that I will rotate. All of these came by accident or sheer laziness. One is a german-style red that was intended to be an alt by design. This one had a fairly large grain bill and I decided to experiment with it and nerf it down to something a little simpler with what I had on hand. My new simplified recipe ended up being tastier and cheaper than the original. Another one is a cream ale that my brother helped me screw up (for the better). The original recipe called for 12lbs of base and 3 or 4 lbs of adjuncts. Long story short, strike water was added before all the grain was crushed and I just tossed in what I had ready (about 2/3 of the bill) and proceeded to cuss my brother relentlessly. Turned out to be one tasty session beer. The last one is a simple stout that was originally supposed to be an English Brown. I forgot how I boned that one initially, but I'm glad I did. All I remember is that it involved the lack of attention to add the entire grain bill and using a different yeast.

All said, they are 3 VERY different beers that started out in life as complex or big grain bills that accidentally got nerfed. If you have a steady supply of 2 Row or MO, you can pretty much make anything. I only keep a small amount of adjuncts on hand to keep me from getting carried away. Just enough to make 1 of these 3 beers.

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