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Old 11-19-2012, 05:38 AM   #51
nevery
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbrewski
I do all grain, but have read many times here you want to boil a small portion of the extract for the 60 minutes and save most of it for the last few minutes or even flameout. Boiling the extract accentuates the twang.
Boiling also darkens the DME in the wort ("browning" from Maillard reaction) and adding it all to the beginning of the boil reduces hop utilization. I add 3lbs to 6gals at the beginning of the boil and the rest at flame-out, except for partial mashes where the grains were 5lbs or more. If that's the case, all the DME goes in at flame-out. I also use 1.5gal tap water in 4.5gals RO water (pre-boil) with a quarter campden tablet, most of the time gypsum.

MI_Troll is TOTALLY right about overcarbing. Seems to me that it accentuates bitter and subdues malt. Also makes it hard to swig, which is no fun.

Stocktonbrewing: as far as I know, no carbon-based water filter can remove chloromines; Only chorine. If your municipal water uses chloromines, you must use campden tabs or age the water if you want to avoid off flavors. The water filter I have doesn't filter any dissolved minerals or chemicals and it's the best unit that's not an RO filtration system.

chungking: S-04 does attenuate a little lower than most and ends up a little sweet. 1.015 is normal for extracts, too. Only one of my batches has been less than 1.014, even with partial mash, and it was a Belgian yeast that ended 1.001

My "awesome" was my 5th batch... It was a Imperial Cascadian Dark IPA, Partial Mash. Tastes like a mildly sweet and malty Amarillo coffee. (My mouth is watering and I think I'll go have one right now, lol!)

My 6th was bottled yesterday and it's an Imperial Saison-IPA, partial. I have some high hopes for it as it tasted good warm and without carbonation, although I didn't dry hop it like I should have.

Many people say stick to known recipes, specially those trying to sell you a kit, but I say go out on a limb and DIY using known recipes for guidelines. For the Saison IPA, I took an AG IPA recipe, substituted 2-row with Maris Otter, added Pilsen DME to make it a certain ABV (9.5%) so it's an Imperial, then I changed all the hops translating their AA values (just to match the Saison funk better), and finally multiplied the specialty grains by the new ABV. I also used Belgian Saison III instead of WLP001. It tasted pretty damn good (being still and luke warm) and I'm definitely looking forward to cracking one open in two weeks.

Good luck, man.
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:51 AM   #52
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First batch was a golden ale. I want to say amazing, but closer to very good. Definitely something I would buy in a store. Second batch, a pale ale that was okay, but had a weird aftertaste. Third, a rather disappointing stout. Fourth, a terrible english dark ale. Fifth, a great blonde ale. Rather boring, but I find most Kölsch boring, and there was simply nothing notably wrong about it, which was very exciting news to me.

From there, it bounces between very good and good, with a few "okays" thrown in. I think I had it pretty dialed in after 5 batches. Most of it was spent trying to reclaim the glory (through dumb luck) that was the first batch...

To address your problem, the only beers I have been very disappointed in used S-04 - I'm going to blame the yeast here. I wouldn't describe it as vinegary, but it definitely gave it an almost 'wine and coriander' or 'woody bubblegum' kind of ester thing. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f163/not...s-04-a-363641/

In your position, I would try a nice simple American pale ale with US-05. Something like Northern Brewer's Sierra Madre would be a great choice. Can't go wrong with US-05, and when you're trying to eliminate brewing process problems (or determine if they exist) it's great.

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Old 11-19-2012, 11:57 AM   #53
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My first 3 batches were good beer, but nothing that was amazing, it wasn't really until my 4th or 5th beer when I started making my own recipes (or modifying ones on the internet) that I finally hit beer that I would call 'almost great'.

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Old 11-19-2012, 12:39 PM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilsojos View Post
I would suggest you closely monitor your fermentation temps.
+1 for this. I think for most newer brewers, the two most important things to getting quality product (assuming you're brewing extract?) are (1) controlling your fermentation temp and (2) giving the beer enough time in the primary before you bottle.

Of course, temp control is easier if you have the right equipment--a dedicated fridge with a temp control is something just about everyone gets around to buying/scrounging sooner or later. In the meantime, if you're having problems with the temp getting too high, try the poor man's swamp cooler--a water bath and a fan, or even just wet towels on the carboy with a fan blowing on it. Most basic American and British ales will suffer taste-wise if the temp inside the fermenter is anything north of 75F, and mid- to high-60's is really where you want to be at. Which requires the ambient temp to be around 60-65F, and constant. If you can figure out a way to do that you'll notice immediate results.

As far as the longer primary goes, regardless of what the instructions your kit came with say, I'd leave any medium gravity beer (OG 1.04-1.065 or so) in the primary for at least two weeks, and three to four weeks if you're experiencing any off flavors. I know there are those who argue that once the beer reaches final gravity and has a couple of extra days for clean up, any additional time spent on the yeast cake is wasted. All I can say from experience is that my beers improved markedly when I started leaving them on the yeast cake for at least a week longer than I previously had. For darker, more complex beers I'll often leave them on the primary for a month now, and I see a huge difference. So take it for what it's worth.

Are there ways to make good beer faster? Absolutely. There are guys who have their process so dialed in that they can make great, finished beer, from kettle to tap, in 12 or 14 days. But for a new brewer just trying to figure out how to make that first, great beer, try 3-4 weeks on the primary at 67F, a week in secondary (if you're into that kind of thing), then a good three weeks in the bottles before you even open one. If you can control your fermentation temps and follow that timeline, you should have very tasty beer by the end of all that waiting.

Don't give up hope brother! Cheers!
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:43 PM   #55
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I didn't make a truly "awesome" batch until I went All-Grain after about 8 extract batches. The Vanilla-Bourbon-Oak aged stout I made still gets raves from people who tried it even months after they tried it! I have locked the last 6 bottles of it away in the safe for Christmas....it's been very tough not to drink them!

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Old 11-19-2012, 01:01 PM   #56
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Some of the other comments on here are great, just thought of one other thing that really helped my process early on.

I got lucky on my first two batches--stout and nut brown ale extracts kits from morebeer, almost a decade ago now (!), and they were both really terrific. After that, I had a whole string of so-so beers like you're describing--drinkable, not terrible, but noticeably "homebrew", like how some kids are really nice but noticeably homeschoolers. (No offense intended here, I'm lucky to have married one of them as an adult!)

After four or five ho-hum batches, I decided to focus on one beer style until I could make it as good or better than what I could buy on the shelf. I picked an English Northern Brown Ale because I'm a sucker for British ale styles, and probably made 7 or 8 three-gallon batches of that stuff before I was really happy with it. But by sticking to one style and focusing on the process I was able to figure out some things that I could improve. It also helped enormously for me to be able to drink a 2-week old beer, a 4-week old beer, a 6-week old beer and an 8-week old beer all from the same recipe, because I could compare how they aged and get a sense of when the beer was peaking.

Yes, I was pretty ready to go on to other styles by the time I finished that process (it took about two months in all), but I came out of it a much better brewer, and the last two batches that I made were good enough that I would gladly do a side-by-side test with Newcastle.

If I were going to do it over again, I would probably choose a different style to practice on; specifically, I think doing an American style beer makes more sense, since the English ale yeasts can be pretty complex, obscuring some of the issues created by the brewing process. I might try an American amber using a neutral yeast like US-05, and make a bunch of smaller batches of this in succession, trying to identify how your process differs from one to the other and what the results are. It was a big help for me.

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Old 11-19-2012, 01:19 PM   #57
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I just tried an old speckled hen British pale ale to compare it to my brew. I was not impressed. In fact, I liked mine better, twang and all. I will not be having an old speckled hen again. Really bad after taste, made my throat felt weird, almost sore. There any other British style pales out there i can try?

I'm going to guess it might be the style of the beer. I was just expecting a cleaner, crisper taste similar to American style pale Ale's...

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Old 11-19-2012, 01:31 PM   #58
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Well, when I think of a standard British pale ale, Bass always comes to mind. And Fuller's ESB

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Old 11-19-2012, 01:37 PM   #59
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I enjoy a bass. They are good. Old speckled hen was hard to choke down. It could have gone bad. I can't imagine it gets ordered often...

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Old 11-19-2012, 01:57 PM   #60
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I realize you are using dry yeast, which i've never used. But the biggest changes i made to take my beer from drinkable to good/great were:

1. Proper pitching rate
2. Temp control during fermentation

I use Mr Malty for calculating pitching rate and when i started using stirplate starters i saw dramatic increase in quality of beer. Also, keeping the fermentation temperature down towards the low side of the suggested temp range made a big difference too.

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