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Old 05-13-2011, 03:59 AM   #1
axeman9182
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My name is Bill and I'm a (somewhat) new homebrewer from NJ. I moved to Boston for grad school almost two years ago and caught the craft beer bug, and started homebrewing just over a year ago. I've only got six batches under my belt, I went all grain starting with batch 5 and just converted a cooler into a mash tun today in time for batch 7 (a traditional hefe) which will hopefully get brewed next weekend. I'm a bit frustrated that I haven't liked any of my beers as much as my first, and this has been a bit of an adventure for me as someone who usually learns best by watching others, but I've done most of my learning for brewing from reading online (and through limited trial and error), but I love beer too much to get discouraged. I've done a little bit of browsing here before, and figured it was high time I sign up. Cheers!

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Old 05-13-2011, 05:22 AM   #2
SenorWanderer
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Hey Bill! Welcome!

Not that you were asking, but I thought I'd give you a couple suggestions. Sounds like you need a brewing buddy, especially now that you're going all grain. I'd bet you can find someone here on HBT that's in your area who'd love to have a visitor on brew day. You could also try posting a flyer at your local home brew store, and while you're there ask the folks at the counter about any home brew clubs in the area. You'd be shocked how quickly a second set of more experienced eyes can catch a minor flaw in your process.

Second, if you haven't liked many of your extract beers, and you're following a set recipe or brewing from a kit (instead of writing your own recipes) then I'm guessing the problem is fermentation. Learn how to make a starter so you're pitching the correct amount of healthy yeast, and find a way to control your fermentation temps. If you accomplish these two pretty simple things your beers will improve immediately!

Good Luck, and welcome!

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Old 05-13-2011, 09:48 AM   #3
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Welcome to this crazy little place. For new and old brewers alike this is a killer place to learn tips and tricks. I would agree w/ SenorWanderer (Love your avartar by the way!) ask your LHBS about clubs. I get asked all the time in my store and we have a great club in our area. But most of all comb this site! You will find a kegload of 411 here.

What have you not liked about your last 6 batches?

Cheers
Jay

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Old 05-13-2011, 02:30 PM   #4
axeman9182
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Thanks for the welcome guys! Unfortunately I won't have a car for the immediate future, so finding someone to observe will probably have to wait until fall. I'm currently living with my parents, so central air is a pretty hand fermentation temperature control, and I've tried to be good about getting a good starter going before most of my brews. I guess this would be a good summary of my experience:

Batch 1: Saison, extract. Finished a little sweet (1.010) but otherwise not bad. Also overcarbonated by using a calculator to find the amount of priming sugar for a 5 gallon batch when I only had about 4 gallons of beer.

Batch 2: IPA, extract w/ steeping grains. Total disaster. My last batch before I moved home and I had no air conditioning of any kind in the middle of the summer. This beer ended up spending a good chunk of fermentation/conditioning at 80+ degrees, and sure tasted like it.

Batch 3: American brown ale, extract w/ steeping grains. Brewed back to back with batch 4. I'm probably a little harsher on this one than I should. It was supposed to be a rough approximation of Duck Rabbit's brown ale, which uses Amarillo and Saaz hops, and my brew turned out more amarillo heavy, while theirs has Saaz much more up front.

Batch 4: Imperial stout, extract w/ steeping grains. This one was brewed in September and bottled in December, and it's just now starting to come around. There was a massive off taste early on (I'm guessing diacetyl) that's just now starting to fade and let the roasted flavors come through. There may be hope for this one yet.

Batch 5: Imperial IPA, all grain. The malt portion of this one went fine, I got it down from an OG of 1.080 to finish at 1.010. I think I just didn't care for one of the hops used (I used Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra, and I think Simcoe's the culprit). A similar beer with maybe some different hops is on my "to brew" list.

Batch 6: Witbier, all grain. At this point I was doing stovetop all grain in a bag. I hit a problem where when heating the mash up from the protein rest to the sacc rest (target 152 degrees) I must have been measuring a cold spot because all of a sudden I went from short of the mark to over 160 degrees, and it took a few minutes of stirring and adding ice cubes to bring it back down. Fermentation got stuck at 1.018 (from an OG of 1.042) which I chalked up to all that time the beer spent above 1.060, so I figured there was nothing more that I could do and bottled it as is. So I have a wit at about 3.25% that isn't terrible, but not anywhere near what I was hoping for.

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Old 05-18-2011, 04:10 AM   #5
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Good luck Bill!

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