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Old 10-29-2012, 02:55 PM   #1
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Default What 3 things have you done since you started brewing, to make better beer?

Thinking back on my first beers, I kind of chuckle at the quality. I look back over the years and think, what 3 things have I done since I first started brewing to now that has improved the quality of my beer.

1) Join a home brew club. You spend time with like minded people who are honest and can provide feedback. The first best thing someone told me about my beer was the truth and that there was something wrong. My non brewing friends could never do that. Further, someone in the club is always brewing and more than happy to have you over to watch and help.

2) Enter competitions. This is the best way to get true honest feedback. The judges are not concerned about hurting your feelings as they have no idea who's beer they are judging. Most will give positive feedback, even if it is a less than good beer. Not all judging is equal, nor all judges good at it. I have found for the most part, they are are consistent. If you score low on a beer that you feel is good, enter it in another competition.

3) All grain. Doing all grain batches allows me to fine tune recipes and brew unique styles. Everyone brews an IPA or an APA. Try brewing an American Rye , or a Flanders with extract. It's an equipment commitment, but for me, it is worth it. I could have not moved to all grain as easy had I not the done the above. Join a club and enter beers.

The above three things really made a difference. I'm certain over time, experience would have improved my beers, but not to the extent they are now.

What are your 3 things that improved your beer?

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Old 10-29-2012, 02:59 PM   #2
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#1) Ferm temp control

#2) Stopped trying to make big beers out of styles not suited for high ABV.

#3) RDWHAHBing more than fixing imagined problems.

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Old 10-29-2012, 02:59 PM   #3
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Temperature control - critical to avoiding off flavors
Star San - started out using bleach to sterilize, would often lead to chloramines and off flavors
Better wort oxygenation - less esters from stressed yeast because colony size is large

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Old 10-29-2012, 03:00 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by usfmikeb View Post
Temperature control - critical to avoiding off flavors
Star San - started out using bleach to sterilize, would often lead to chloramines and off flavors
Better wort oxygenation - less esters from stressed yeast because colony size is large
These are things I learned from being in a home brew club.
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Old 10-29-2012, 03:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by planetscott View Post
Thinking back on my first beers, I kind of chuckle at the quality. I look back over the years and think, what 3 things have I done since I first started brewing to now that has improved the quality of my beer.

1) Join a home brew club. You spend time with like minded people who are honest and can provide feedback. The first best thing someone told me about my beer was the truth and that there was something wrong. My non brewing friends could never do that. Further, someone in the club is always brewing and more than happy to have you over to watch and help.

2) Enter competitions. This is the best way to get true honest feedback. The judges are not concerned about hurting your feelings as they have no idea who's beer they are judging. Most will give positive feedback, even if it is a less than good beer. Not all judging is equal, nor all judges good at it. I have found for the most part, they are are consistent. If you score low on a beer that you feel is good, enter it in another competition.

3) All grain. Doing all grain batches allows me to fine tune recipes and brew unique styles. Everyone brews an IPA or an APA. Try brewing an American Rye , or a Flanders with extract. It's an equipment commitment, but for me, it is worth it. I could have not moved to all grain as easy had I not the done the above. Join a club and enter beers.

The above three things really made a difference. I'm certain over time, experience would have improved my beers, but not to the extent they are now.

What are your 3 things that improved your beer?

If I had a fourth, it would be joining internet forums like this.
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Old 10-29-2012, 03:08 PM   #6
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1.) Brewing more often - When I was only brewing once every six months or something like that I didnt know my system so I would run into problems. Now that I brew at least once a month, I know how my numbers are going to come out and what to expect. And I keep all my equipment/salts/PH tester up to date and ready to use.

2.) Yeast starters and oxygen tank - This helps me not worry that I didnt do enough for the yeast so they fully ferment out my beer. I was a real drag worrying all the time that you haven't done enough for a certain part of the process to make the best beer you can.

3.) Getting more equipment - I have such a better time during my brew day now that I have a mash tun that I can direct fire if I need to ( I still have the cooler too) and an additional burner to get my sparge water heating while doing infusion mashing so I can fly sparge/batch sparge and not have to move pots around and wait.

There are more, but the main thing for me was to just brew more often and get used to my system and make upgrades when I can afford them.

And DEFINITELY joining a site like homebrewtalk.com... Even though I'm still not a Premium Member yet

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Old 10-29-2012, 03:25 PM   #7
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Temperature control

Better attention to yeast health

Better handle on water quality/adjustment

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Old 10-29-2012, 03:29 PM   #8
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Not necessarily in this order:

1. Switched to AG
2. Started using yeast starters
3. Started using brewing software on my computer and Android phone (Beersmith & Brewzor Pro)

There's more of course, but you asked for 3 and I think those are the main things. Of course my very first time I used bleach to sanitize but switched right over to StarSan which is a godsend. Being a member on this forum is also a tremendous indispensable learning tool!


Rev.

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Old 10-29-2012, 03:29 PM   #9
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I need to add water quality and adjustment to my list too! I've started using RO water and adding CaCl to my water to get the calcium just over 50ppm and the Chloride helps with enhancing the malt profile. And the PH levels have been adjusted with adding a percentage of acid malt to the grain bill and adding the dark grains at vorlauf.

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Old 10-29-2012, 03:45 PM   #10
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Watching mash ph.Changing water( I think R/0 with brewing salts may be my best option anymore than unidentified water reports from store spring water-plus I cant seem to find a great tasting spring water). Using recipes.
Brewing small batches almost every weekend really helped me get farther faster.Learning from each brew by logging differences/similarities.
Also I may try pure o2 to oxygenate instead of my paint mixer and maybe get a stirplate so I can harvest yeast with a better pitch rate.The one time I made a starter for my washed yeast series for one of my batches was significantly better than the others. Cant say 100% if I can narrow that out exactly but it is a coincidence-that Im willing to test on with future brews. If these are going to make even better beer,Ill be all about it.
Possibly get a 2.5 gal keg/3 gallon carboy instead of my 2 gallon vessels and see how I like that. Make bigger batches and brew a little less often. Although I dont like to drink the same beer in bulk. May also get a burner for lager batches/mashpot. This is all if I have a good organized designated brew room/area also hopefully in the future.

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