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Old 04-09-2010, 01:08 PM   #11
JSomps6
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I was listening to the archives of the brewing network a few days ago... Jamil mentioned that many home brewers have ugly baby syndrome. Basically, they say their beer is good, but how many awards have they won, and does anybody else think their beer is good? Not saying you guys don't have good beer and your buddies don't like it... I'm just saying.

Things like pitching the right amount of healthy yeasty, having the right fermentation temp for the style/yeast, and other little things are what separate good beer from great beer. And while I'm happy making good beer, I'd like to be the guy making GREAT beer.

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Old 04-09-2010, 04:32 PM   #12
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There is also the "My way is the right way" syndrome in which if someone doesn't follow the the latest greatest methods of homebrewing, the end product will inevitably be inferior. Well, that's probably true actually. However, that end product will often still be on par or better than 90% of the beers seen in your local supermarket. I would venture to guess that most folks that homebrew don't really care about an award winner, after all, I'm sure BMC have won awards at some point in their history. I would guess most want the pleasure of making their own and being satisfied with the result. Using the absolute simplest methods, that satisfaction is usually obtained. I don't know if the OP is on his first homebrew or his 100th, but I think its a good idea to keep things very simple at first and then start taking basic steps to work on improvements so you can see how process adjustments affect your beer.

As for how other folks like my beers, that's always a subjective test. My first batch I brewed after a 10 year hiatus was a Porter that I wanted to make similar to Sierra Nevada. I used my normal method of brewing that I used in the 90s (250 batches or so), that is, primary until the kreusen falls, rack to secondary until it looks like fermentation was complete, then bottle. That process took 6 days in my 77 deg house with no temperature control. I always try my first beer after 1 week in the bottle just to get an idea on how things are going. Well, I had a had my wife and a neighbor perform a blind taste test at this point, so I poured a glass of mine and a glass of Sierra Nevada. I held both out for my guinea pigs and they sampled. I tried to nudge both the wife and neighbor towards the Sierra Nevada glass as being the better beer. My wife agreed, but my neighbor liked mine better (btw, I thought my neighbor was nuts, SN was definitely tons better at this stage). Its now been y weeks since then and most of the sharper notes from my Porter have gone away and it is now heavenly. I'd put it up agains SN anyday. The wife agrees.

The trick is, could I repeat that quality if I did things exactly the same way with the same ingredients. Probably not. It might get better or worse. It might taste quite a bit different. I feel making some of those simple process improvements aids in making more consistent high quality brews. I started out very simple 20 years ago, was encouraged by the simple brews and slowly made improvements. The first being not using corn sugar as a prime fermentable. The most significant was making a starter. Once I began making starters, my beers became a little better, but were dramatically more consistent. Now that I've returned to brewing I am looking to improve the process and am going about it in a slow methodical way. I've brewed 6 batches since returning to brewing in February, only the last one has the process change of trying to control fermentation temps less than 70 deg. I do expect a noticeable improvement.

I've made great beers without temp control in Florida. I've made good beers. I've also made crap beers, but these have been a very few. A simple swamp cooler will definitely improve Old Crow's brews. I also think Old Crow's current beer will be significantly better just letting it sit for a couple of more of weeks.

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Old 04-09-2010, 05:05 PM   #13
remilard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schweer View Post
However, that end product will often still be on par or better than 90% of the beers seen in your local supermarket.
I don't know what is at your supermarket but I have never met a homebrewer who brews consistently better beer than is available commonly from commercial brewers.

Some of the best beers I have had were home brewed and the others were commercial, same with the worst. If I want 5-6 really great beers I am better off at the store than pretty much any homebrewers house. Maybe you are the exception, but I've heard that "my beer is better than anything at the store" line a million times and I never agreed.

Ugly baby syndrome is very real. A lot of people have a personality such that they want to think their baby is beautiful, their 6 year old well behaved, their comb-over is fooling everybody, they are really smarter than their boss, and they make the best beer in the world. 99% of homebrewers think their beer is better than average, about half of them are wrong.

Active temp control is not some new fangled home brewing trick. The best brewers have been doing it for decades, the worst brewers still don't do it. Some people do very well with low tech solutions. Nobody can brew all ale styles year round without some form of temp control and do well, thats a fact even if you don't want to believe it.

An IPA fermented at 58 (winter) and one fermented at 80 (summer) will taste drastically different. Anybody who thinks they are both just hunky dory is easy to please or kidding themselves.
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Old 04-09-2010, 05:15 PM   #14
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Since 90% of the beers in a supermarket are BMC, yes a simple homebrew will be better. Maybe I should have said "sold" in a supermarket.

Yes, basic fementation chillers have been around forever. However the OPs question was is it a must to use the lower temps to get a decent tasting beer. To that, I stil would say no. It will improve it tho and make it more consistent.

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