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Old 12-01-2012, 02:58 PM   #21
logdrum
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Fermentation control not only makes for a superior finished product, it also allows for various aspects of the yeast to shine utilizing different temperature parameters.for this, the STC controller has been a godsend. FWIW, I'm not in the extended primary camp. My reasoning is that when the yeast is done, it's done.

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Old 12-01-2012, 03:00 PM   #22
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1. Understanding yeast better. For me, this ranged from understanding the subtleties that are imparted by particular yeast strains to "temperature control". I say "temperature control", b/c I still only have active temperature control on my lagering fridge. For all of my ales, I use other means if I need to lower the temperature a bit, such as a jerry-rigged swamp cooler (wet towel with carboy immersed in a bit of water, fan nearby if needed). This is all mainly to say that temperature control doesn't necessarily have to be automated if you're on a budget and/or have limited space for additional fridges, etc.

2. Creating my own recipes. Exploring recipes on your own - using input from various other sources, but trying different grains, hops, yeast, etc. to get a feel for the subtle changes imparted by each ingredient is a great way to improving your brewing. It takes some time, so you have to have patience and be ready for some beers that don't taste quite how you wanted them to, but you will improve.

3. Making simple beers. Even when creating your own recipes, there can be an impulse to make BIG BOLD beers, and often this is great, but this can also lead to some BIG MUDDLED flavors and hitting a rut in terms of your understanding of how small changes can impart relatively significant differences in flavor, etc. If you make a 10% imperial stout with vanilla and bourbon soaked oak chips, follow it up with a pilsner, an alt, or a simple pale ale to get back to basics and make sure you can still nail some simple (but difficult to perfect) recipes.

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Old 12-01-2012, 03:39 PM   #23
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I also forgot two other important things for me:

4. 10 gallon batches. These allow you to split up a big batch into 2 or 3 different fermenters (or more if you want) and change a variable between each batch. Its been the best way for me to do side by side comparisons. Want to see the influence of - starter vs. no starter? two different yeast strains? primary only vs. secondary? 10 gallon batches makes these comparisons easy

5. Entering competitions. Even if you don't care about winning medals, etc. its a great way to get feedback and improve quickly. Plus you get to go the awards ceremonies and meet other homebrewers and professional brewers and have informative conversations.

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Old 12-01-2012, 03:45 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
1. Fermentation temperature control
2. Pitching the proper amount of yeast
3. Water chemistry
These are the big three. In that order. Focus on these, and you'll always make good beer.
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Old 12-01-2012, 03:50 PM   #25
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For me in this order:
1. Fermentation Control - Without a doubt, the single most important thing you can do to improve your beer.
2. Full Boil
3. Yeast Starters

Next on my list is Water. I'm currently studying up on how to manipulate and improve water based on the style I'm brewing.

I also agree with competitions. I entered my first one and the feedback was well worth it.

Finally, reading posts and taking the advice from the experts here on this forum such as Revvy, yooper, Golddiggie, Biermuncher, Ed Wort and others. They have done it, tried it and brewed it. When they post, I pay attention.

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