The Great Bottle Opener Giveaway

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > How can I improve my brewing process and my beer?

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 02-19-2013, 07:02 PM   #1
micfiygd
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: new brunswick, NJ
Posts: 30
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default How can I improve my brewing process and my beer?

So the long and short of it is that I want to make better beer! So my girlfriend and I have done about 20 brews so far and we are going to make the switch to all grain very soon. However, before we make that huge monetary plunge we want to make sure that our process is as efficient as possible. So I'm going to give a brief rundown of our brewing process and if anyone has any suggestions it would be GREATLY appreciated!

1. Put white labs container in pocket (I usually use whitelabs yeast)
2. fill up 5 gallon pot with 3.5 gallons of water.
3. Bring water to about 165 degrees.
4. steep "specialty grains" for 30 minutes
5. When wort reaches 200 degrees add LME
6. Let wort boil for about 5-10 minutes till hot break
7. Kill heat and add hops.
8. After 45 minutes add finishing hops.
9. With 10 minutes left in boil put in wort chiller to santize
10. After boil is done turn off heat and start wort chiller.
11. Wort chills to about 75 in about 15 minutes.
12. Dump wort (leaving out into primary fermenter (sanitized plastic bucket)
13. Top off with water to reach 5 gallons.
14. vigorously stir wort to aerate.
15. Take gravity reading.
16. Close bucket and attach airlock.
17. Put fermenter in closet where it stays at about 65-68.
18. Leave it in for about 2 weeks.
19. Rack into secondary carboy for another few weeks.
20. Add priming sugar and bottle.
21. Enjoy delicious beer 2 weeks later!


Any thoughts or suggestions for some ways I can improve my process?

__________________
micfiygd is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-19-2013, 07:07 PM   #2
QuercusMax
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Twinsburg (Cleveland Southeast), Ohio
Posts: 436
Liked 50 Times on 35 Posts
Likes Given: 18

Default

Taking the vial out of your pocket and pitching the yeast would probably help. Also you may want to make a starter, as 1 vial really isn't enough for a 5 gallon batch.

__________________
QuercusMax is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-19-2013, 07:11 PM   #3
etrain666
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
etrain666's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Parker, CO
Posts: 127
Liked 6 Times on 4 Posts
Likes Given: 12

Default

Fermentation control was the number one factor in improving my beer. You say you have a closet that is between 65-68, but are you sure it stays that way 24/7?

Invest in a dual stage controller, a small dorm fridge and brew heating pad. Pitch at the exact temp recommended by the yeast maker. Near the end of vigorous fermentation, bump the overall temp up 4-5 degrees. This will help ensure the yeast finish their duties and you get a fully attenuated and clean beer. Then, dont touch it for at least a week or two. Three full weeks at the right temp will help out a bunch.

I would imagine that if you can identify what specifically you think your beer is lacking, or has too much of, this community can give you better recommendations.

__________________
etrain666 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-19-2013, 07:13 PM   #4
liquiditynerd
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 600
Liked 78 Times on 64 Posts
Likes Given: 17

Default

That for sure.

Also, the only thing I do different is adding my additional water ( chilled ) to top off with the wort chiller. Takes about 6 mins off the wort chiller immersion. The wort chiller is hooked up to a submersible pump in 5 gallons of ice water.

__________________

....just add water.....

liquiditynerd is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-19-2013, 07:13 PM   #5
Homercidal
Moderator
HBT_MODERATOR.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Homercidal's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Reed City, MI
Posts: 22,830
Liked 1898 Times on 1369 Posts
Likes Given: 1043

Default

Also no need to kill the heat when adding hops. That is for when you add the extract.

Also, I'd like to stop you here for a moment to tell you about an exciting new development in Home Brewing: Brew in a Bag.

Yep, it's genuine All Grain brewing but without all of the hassle and expense of buying or building a mash tun, etc.

Basically you take your crushed grains, add them to a kettle lined with a nylon paint strained bag and some water at *about* 168 degrees and stir to combine. when temp is in mash range (149ish to 156ish, your choice) you cover and let sit for an hour. Check it every 20 minutes and add heat and stir if necessary.

Lift bag and let drain into kettle. Place bag in second kettle with 165ish water, stir to rinse the sugars, lift and drain.

Combine kettles into one and start the boil.

The nice thing is you can play with mashing without the cost and hassle, and you can make a higher gravity wort that can be diluted later, just like extract (so you don't have to buy a bigger burner yet).

Just something to think about. There is a LOT of information on this technique on Google.

__________________
Homercidal is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-19-2013, 07:17 PM   #6
jeffjm
Custom Yeast Home Builder
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
jeffjm's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Posts: 410
Liked 56 Times on 43 Posts
Likes Given: 12

Default

Another vote for fermentation temp control. The temperature of your wort is what is important - not the temperature around it. A typical ale can easily be 8 degrees F above ambient around high krausen.

Pitching at the bottom end of your yeast's temperature range can help minimize off flavors, and improve attenuation, because you aren't cooling them down as they start fermentation. By the time they've warmed themselves up to the high end of their recommended range, most of the flavor compounds have been produced.

The best single investment I ever made was an oxygenation kit. You get much more cell growth in your beer with pure O2 than by shaking/stirring.

And finally - feel free to skip the secondary

__________________
jeffjm is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-19-2013, 07:28 PM   #7
stratslinger
Brewing Thespian
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
stratslinger's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Terryville, CT
Posts: 1,819
Liked 105 Times on 91 Posts
Likes Given: 80

Default

The two things that jumped out at me immediately have already been stated, but I'll go ahead and restate them. This is probably in opposite order of importance, but I'll list them in order of ease of implementation:

Get your yeast pitching rates in order! As has been stated, a single vial of yeast is rarely the correct amount of yeast to pitch. Yes, it will ferment your beer. But if you start referring to yeast pitching calculators like those on mrmalty.com or yeastcalc.com, you'll find that even mid-gravity beers will benefit greatly from starters (especially if your LHBS is less than stellar about keeping up with their yeast inventory and wind up selling you a vial that's a couple months old). And once you start going much over 1.060, starters are dang near a must. Starters are easy to make and are easy to enhance; you can easily make one in a clean, sanitized growler that you shake frequently. But you can also then go ahead and build or buy a stirplate and get even better results from your starters.

And then, look into temp control. Even if you have a magic closet that stays a rock solid 65 degrees 24x7x365, during the height of fermentation your beer is giving off 5-10 degrees of extra heat (fermentation is exothermic!), so you're fermenting closer to 70-75 at the most critical time for ester production. Especially if you want cleaner fermenting ales, you'll want to work on something that can keep the fermenter itself, and not the ambient temperature around the fermenter, at a set temperature point. Fermentation chambers with temperature probes attached to the fermenter can be relatively simple or they can be really advanced, depending on your goals with them and your know-how.

__________________
stratslinger is online now
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-19-2013, 07:29 PM   #8
Qhrumphf
Stay Rude, Stay SHARP
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 1 reviews
 
Qhrumphf's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Arlington, VA
Posts: 5,818
Liked 1272 Times on 935 Posts
Likes Given: 514

Default

Starting with BIAB is a good idea. The only major difference between BIAB and steeping grains is a bigger grain bag, the addition of base malt, much more refined temperature, and a longer time frame.

Temperature control is a must. A 65-68 closet is a good start, but during active fermentation (when a lot of your flavor compounds are formed, both good and bad) the yeast are creating heat, which means you're fermenting around 70 on the low end, 78 on the high end depending on the fermentation. Too high for most styles. What matters is the beer temperature, not the ambient air temperature. Air conducts and retains heat very poorly, so it does little to mitigate that temperature rise. Simply submersing your fermenter in a plastic bucket/tote bin full of water will help, or better yet you can use ice to lower the water temp, or use the wet towel/fan method. Searching "swamp cooler" on the forum will give you a load of techniques for controlling temperature without the need of a fridge (although a fridge is going to be the most effective and lowest maintenance although most expensive). By adding bottles filled with ice (20oz, 2L, or 1 gallon depending on the need) I'm able to hold relatively steady anywhere from the low 70s down to the low to mid 40's.

And yeast pitching rate. That's a big one. Start using either yeastcalc.com or mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html, and make sure you're pitching a proper amount of yeast.

As far as I'm concerned, proper temp control, proper pitching rate, and proper sanitation are the big ones. Make sure you have those down fully before considering moving to all-grain.

__________________

Up Next: English Summer Ale, Best Bitter, Coniston Bluebird Bitter Clone v1.5
Primary: Pale Mild
Secondary: Sour Stout, Wild (Infected) Bitter
Bottled: Sticke Altbier, Doppelsticke Altbier, Weizenbock, Berliner Weisse, Spruce Brown Ale, Arrogant Bastard Clone, ESB, Ordinary Bitter, Dark Mild
Bottle "cellar": Brett B. Tripel, Imperial Red, Tripel, Quadrupel, Brett C. Oaked English Barleywine, Lamebic

Qhrumphf is online now
stratslinger Likes This 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-19-2013, 07:49 PM   #9
micfiygd
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: new brunswick, NJ
Posts: 30
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

Well my next thing then is definitely going to be a johnson controller and take advantage of the freezer in my garage and keep my temperature under control.

Then making a starter out of my yeast.

__________________
micfiygd is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 02-19-2013, 07:53 PM   #10
stratslinger
Brewing Thespian
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
stratslinger's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Terryville, CT
Posts: 1,819
Liked 105 Times on 91 Posts
Likes Given: 80

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by micfiygd View Post
Well my next thing then is definitely going to be a johnson controller and take advantage of the freezer in my garage and keep my temperature under control.

Then making a starter out of my yeast.
Well, I stand corrected. If you've already got the freezer, then the more important of the two is also the easier of the two to implement. Get crackin' on that temp control!
__________________
stratslinger is online now
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Help me improve my process (Pictures!) amh0001 General Beer Discussion 43 11-28-2012 02:56 PM
Examine my oxygen process...Can I improve? formula2fast Fermentation & Yeast 7 10-12-2012 04:48 AM
brewing process interuption!!! is my beer ok? corrales_305 Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 5 12-16-2011 08:22 PM
Help improve my process oldschool All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 3 12-01-2009 05:49 AM