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Old 12-31-2012, 02:18 PM   #1
citabria
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Default the next step... Trying to brew great beer.

So I've gotten to the point where I can brew good beer, but not great. I am hitting my numbers and doing everything correctly as far as process go, but my homebrews are not even close to a good craft brew. What is the next step to get my beers close to that level? Better fermentation temp control? Faster chilling? What one thing brought your beers from good to great? Here's my setup:

9 gal SS brew kettle
old turkey fryer burner (>30,000 BTU)
Immersion chiller
MLT Igloo cooler conversion with SS braid (batch sparging).
Old Aluminum kettle for HLT
Several Better Bottle carboys.
Still bottling, not kegging.
Fermenting in basement.
No ability to crash cool a carboy.

Thanks for the input!

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Old 12-31-2012, 02:21 PM   #2
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One thing? Proper yeast management. Those little buggers do all the work. So that includes everything from using a healthy yeast stock, adequate starters, proper temperature control, and clean technique.

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Old 12-31-2012, 02:23 PM   #3
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One thing? Proper yeast management. Those little buggers do all the work.
Yes, that. Pitching the proper amount of healthy yeast and keeping the fermentation temperature at the proper temperature will make a good beer great.

One other thing to think about is your water. What water are you using for brewing?
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:24 PM   #4
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Yeast starters, Great sanitation, Controlled fermentation temps, Start with proven recipes (Brewing Classic Styles). Patience with fermentation time. I think if you can do those things you can brew great beer.

+1 to water - forgot that. Depending on your water it may make a minor difference, or it could be a huge difference. Get water report from Ward Labs if you have not already figured out what your water is like.

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Old 12-31-2012, 02:28 PM   #5
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Yeast starters, Great sanitation, Controlled fermentation temps, Start with proven recipes (Brewing Classic Styles). Patience with fermentation time. I think if you can do those things you can brew great beer.

+1 to water - forgot that. Depending on your water it may make a minor difference, or it could be a huge difference. Get water report from Ward Labs if you have not already figured out what your water is like.
Agreed - don't get too creative with recipes until you really understand how different ingredients impact the flavor of a finished beer. Fermentation temperature control, proper pitching rates, proper water profile for style, and using pure O2 have all made significant improvements in the quality of beer I've been able to make. Once you get to the point where you think your beer has improved enter some competitions to get objective feedback.
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:50 PM   #6
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Great suggestions. I do make starters but do not have a stir plate. Think I'll make that my next project. I live in CO in an are well known for good quality water (mountain runoff), so I 'feel' like that is not an issue but have never had it tested.

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Old 12-31-2012, 02:58 PM   #7
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Great suggestions. I do make starters but do not have a stir plate. Think I'll make that my next project. I live in CO in an are well known for good quality water (mountain runoff), so I 'feel' like that is not an issue but have never had it tested.
I just purchased a very affordable yeast stirrer...can't vouch for it yet but very good reviews. That (and grain milling at home) are my next projects.

This "hobby" keeps dragging me deeper and deeper into the process. I may be growing barley and hops by this time next year at the pace I am going. I find it fascinating.

Here is the link to the yeast stirrer...seems cheaper than making your own.

https://bellsbeer.com/store/products...tir-Plate.html
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Old 12-31-2012, 03:06 PM   #8
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+1 to all of the above and I would add the following:

There are two books I would recommend: "Yeast" by White/Zainasheff and "Brewing Better Beer" by Strong. The book yeast is a difinitive resource in understanding yeast and it's role in making beer. If you can tolerate Strong's somewhat pompous attitude and grandizing of his own achievements I found the book to have a lot of great ideas for process that can be adapted to your own methods.

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