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Old 11-20-2012, 01:53 AM   #1
Rev2010
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Default Focusing on one specific beer type to eliminate the insanity...

I have a number of beers under my belt that are awesome and that I would enter into comps confidently. Some are AG and some are extract, but I've been constantly trying new things to keep the beer rotation varied. As a result I'm finding a few variables and disappointments along the way - as indicated in my recent wheat efficiency thread. So I got to thinking... should I just tackle one beer type at a time at this point to tweak out everything for a specific beer style and not just keep rotating everything? For example, I have a great all grain Amber Ale, I have a great extract Weizenbock, I have a great AG Pumpkin Ale, etc. On the other hand, I have a great AG Hefeweizen if I double decoct but I can't do that often due to the house owner complaining about the smell. So, I've been trying to dial in a non-decoction method that is consistent and great. I did an English Ale with highly flocculant Englsh Ale yeast that has waaay more yeast in the glass than Wyeast 1056 (which is listed as medium-low flocculation but I get no yeast at the bottom of the glass) so I kind of wish I maybe used a different yeast.

All in all there are just sooo many variables to tweak I'm starting to wonder if I am spreading myself too thin for sake of having a varied rotation and am now starting to think maybe I should concentrate on an individual beer type and working it out to perfection before moving to the next. I kind of feel that if I don't I will go nuts.

Problem for me is I stop brewing when the warm spring/summer hits because it's too warm to ferment in the house, and the break is nice because I can fully concentrate on my music. However, now I'm thinking a kegerator would be quite nice as I can use it for a single batch fermentation chamber in the summer and keep the hobby going rather than stop for 4-5 months.Anyhow, anyone else facing this madness? And for you more experienced brewers, did most of you eventually focus on one type of beer to nail your brew before moving onto the next?


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Old 11-20-2012, 03:36 AM   #2
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I guess it all depends on why your brewing in the first place (ask 10 people, and and your liable to get 10 answers). I've felt the same frustrations for sure, but my real drive is experimentation, not necessarily the proverbial "perfect brew". Brewing the same recipe or even the same style over and over trying to perfect each aspect, would on it's own, drive ME crazy. "To each his own"..... "know thyself"..... (fill in your own cliche here)

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Old 11-20-2012, 05:59 AM   #3
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I'm more drawn to variety and experimentation...but each time I come back to a style I make it a little better. I do have a few main styles though, I brew APAs and Porters at a 2 or 3/1 ratio compared to everything else.

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Old 11-20-2012, 06:01 AM   #4
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It sounds like you're competition brewing. If that's the case, the simple answer is to brew at the extreme limits of the style. With any beer, shoot for (actually overshoot) the high end on gravity. If it's a hoppy beer, push IBUs to the high end (again, overshoot by a touch). If it's a malty style, undershoot the IBUs (by a touch).

If you follow those suggestions and it's a good beer that makes mini-BOS, it's going to stand out and 4 out of 5 times, it'll win. A sad truth, perhaps, but a truth nonetheless. Flavorful beers win mini-BOS nearly every time.

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Old 11-20-2012, 06:28 AM   #5
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I used to be the same way, doing a different style everytime I brewed. I had the same dilemma as you, but I kept on doing what I was doing. Now I'm starting to come full circle, and making alternate versions of beers I've already brewed. The key is to take good notes about what you like about your beer and what you would like to change. My notes might say "malt profile is perfect, needs more hop flavoring and aroma, slightly more carbonation". Then, when I get around to version 2.0, I just tweak the previous recipe a bit. Keep brewing what you like and keep it seasonal, and eventually you will come back around to improving what you have already done.

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Old 11-20-2012, 06:45 AM   #6
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I'm with 501.
It depends on why you brew.
If winning competition is important, work on a style until you feel it's as good as it's going to get.

If you just enjoy the process and having great beer that you made, brew as many styles as you think you want around.

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Old 11-20-2012, 07:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 501irishred View Post
I guess it all depends on why your brewing in the first place (ask 10 people, and and your liable to get 10 answers). I've felt the same frustrations for sure, but my real drive is experimentation, not necessarily the proverbial "perfect brew". Brewing the same recipe or even the same style over and over trying to perfect each aspect, would on it's own, drive ME crazy. "To each his own"..... "know thyself"..... (fill in your own cliche here)
+1 for sure. I do find that I am better at brewing styles that I brew more often though, like stouts for example.

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How's life in Saline county 501?
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Old 11-20-2012, 11:16 AM   #8
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I usually brew 3 beers at a time. I have one that I am almost done tweaking, one that I am just having fun with, and one that I am starting to work on. It usually takes me two days to brew 15 gallons but it is worth it in the end. I decided to start having at least one beer that I was perfecting during my brew day when I couldn't nail down a southern English brown and had too much time in between brews to care. Taking a break during to summer should be fine as long as you have plenty of homebrew bottled and kegged for your hibernation.

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Old 11-20-2012, 12:43 PM   #9
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I haven't entered any comps yet. My purpose for brewing is because I love beer and making it gives me more enjoyment than just simply drinking beer. But with enjoyment always comes a bit of the opposite, we've all stressed over our beer at some point for one reason or another. Eventually I would like to enter some comps, in due time. I have three fermenters so I usually have three different brews going. I have started just recently taking more detailed notes. I used to just write down mash temps and boil times and such but now I'm recording everything - fermentation temps, yeast starter info, and now I'm also doing tasting notes which I should've done a long time ago.


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Old 11-20-2012, 01:27 PM   #10
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Agree with 501--everyone's got a different approach. Mine is to have a couple of styles that I brew with regularity, like every six weeks to 2 months. They're my "starting rotation", if you will. For me those are an ESB, an English brown ale and an IPA that I alternate with the other two. Whenever I'm running low on those brews they're automatically the next ones in the rotation. In between, I do whatever seems interesting at the moment and appropriate for the season--my "bullpen". So my last few brews have been ones that I haven't tried before (like the weizendoppelbock I did a couple of weeks ago) or ones that I only brew once a year (like the spiced Christmas ale that I did last). I'll be brewing my standbys again shortly after the first of the year, as I'm down to my last case of ESB.

For me this method is best because making those two or three beers over and over again helps me to really focus on my process--I'm happy with the recipes I've got for both, so any variation at this point is really due to what I'm doing. And I continue to find things that I can change to improve my product, mostly while I'm brewing those two beers. But at the same time, I am usually working on a different brew as well, to keep things interesting and to broaden my brewing horizons.

It works for my drinking as well, since I've always got my favorites on hand, but I also have one or two special brews that are drinkable at any given time. If I slowed down my brew schedule (I brew about every second or third weekend) I would probably need to just have one "standard" beer, since otherwise I wouldn't be brewing anything other than my two or three go-tos.

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