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-   -   How long until you had a beer you really liked? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/how-long-until-you-had-beer-you-really-liked-320064/)

themack22 04-10-2012 01:56 PM

How long until you had a beer you really liked?
 
We've done several beers now over about 5 months and results are discouraging.

1 - Porter (infected, undrinkable)
2 - IPA (too sweet, too carbonated, somewhat drinkable)
3 - Oatmeal Stout (strange off-flavors, most drinkable thus far)
4 - Stout (underpitched, too sweet, somewhat drinkable)

No way am I going to give this up, but dammit, when am I going to have a beer that's good?

Been sanitizing and cleaning a lot. Using all glass on the last 2.

So how long did it take you folks to produce something good?

AgentHubcap 04-10-2012 01:59 PM

Every beer I've made has been good

Grumpybumpy 04-10-2012 02:01 PM

From the very start, but the first batch benefited from some aging. Are you doing extract? What is your water like?

bchurch 04-10-2012 02:14 PM

No offense but it sounds mainly like brewer error thus far, keep practicing on your procedures and the beer will get better. The first recipe I modified was awful but other than that I have been lucky enough to produce decent beers.

themack22 04-10-2012 02:17 PM

Extract. Been using well water.

msujack 04-10-2012 02:19 PM

Make a "simple" beer for confidence. I started with an extract Amber and a Pale Ale. Both turned out great. Working on a Wheat and a Porter now and gradually stepping up to add flavors (oak and bourbon to the porter and Blueberry to the wheat). Then get to the heavier and more complex reciepes. I know you brew what you like, but some of the more complex flavors take more steps and time to get right, and the process is amplified with less room for error. Just take it slowly and it will turn out fine.

Yooper 04-10-2012 02:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by themack22 (Post 3979491)
Extract. Been using well water.

Just to see if it's the water, try using bottled reverse osmosis water for one batch. Use a good quality dry yeast (S05 for American beers, S04 for English beers) and keep the fermentation temperature at 66 degrees, using an ice bath if you have to. Using a kit from a good reputable store (Northern Brewer has lots, so does Austinhomebrew), that should give you a good beer.

Try that, and see if it fixes your issues. If it doesn't, then we can look into more techniques.

IPAs are tough in a partial boil due to the hops isomerize, but most other styles should be very doable with an extract batch even with a partial boil.

themack22 04-10-2012 02:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by msujack (Post 3979500)
Make a "simple" beer for confidence. I started with an extract Amber and a Pale Ale. Both turned out great. Working on a Wheat and a Porter now and gradually stepping up to add flavors (oak and bourbon to the porter and Blueberry to the wheat). Then get to the heavier and more complex reciepes. I know you brew what you like, but some of the more complex flavors take more steps and time to get right, and the process is amplified with less room for error. Just take it slowly and it will turn out fine.

You make a great point that I can't seem to get across to my partners.

I am brewing with two other buddies and they keep gunning for very complex stouts and IPA's. I keep saying we should do something easier.

Currently we have an amber and a hefe going at my buddy's house. I have taken two of our beers home with me to ferment because he's pretty lazy and doesn't read up on this stuff. I had to teach him how to make a blow-off over the phone and it took forever for him to figure it out.

I just need to reign it in I think.

zeg 04-10-2012 02:43 PM

I've brewed three batches of beer and prepared a batch of mead and a batch of cider so far. Of these, the mead and cider and the third beer are still in carboys. The first two beers are bottled, and only the first of those is finished.

The first was very good, and all indications are that the second will be as well.

I strongly advise following the advice above and going to a simple, easy recipe. I started with an extract ordinary bitter, just light DME and 12 oz of steeped crystal malt, with one hops variety. I used Nottingham dry yeast, which is known to be a fast, complete fermenter, with little risk of off flavors as long as you can keep it cool---and it's good to low temperatures, enabling you to err on the cold side with no risk. It's a low gravity beer---1.035 I think---so it ferments fast regardless of yeast. According to Papazian, it can go from kettle to pint glass in 3 weeks, although I gave it 3 weeks in the carboy and 3 weeks bottle conditioning just to be sure.

While I'm sympathetic to jumping in feet-first, it seems that you guys tried it with poor results. I wouldn't sweat the infected batch, other than to learn the lesson to be obsessive about cleaning. However, based on the other results it seems that you need some help with recipes. I would suggest either going to a kit recipe from a big name, or dialing back the complexity and following or personalizing a very simple recipe for the next one.

What do your buddies think of your results so far? If they're less than thrilled, you should be able to make a case that a simple beer that comes out well is better than a complex-but-off result.

By the way, part of the reason I started with the ordinary bitter, besides its being the simplest style to produce, is that they're uncommon in the US. So, while it's not complex, it's fairly unique. Since making it, I've found a couple commercial examples, but it was still a fun experiment. Fortunately, I found that my beer stood up very well against the others.

Good luck, most important thing is to keep at it. One way or another, you'll get things dialed in.

eppo 04-10-2012 02:48 PM

First, just make a style that you like, if it is an IPA, so be it. For the most part, one beer is not more difficult to make than others, but i would stay way from very high gravity beers.
Make sure everything is clean and sanitized, if your using liquid yeast, make an appropriate starter, if your using dry yeast, rehydrate using instructions on package.
Aerate well, and try to keep below 70f (generalizing here, but if you keep the beer in a 65F room, you should be good).
doing that should get rid of most of your problems, for the carbing thing, you can use this calculator to determine the amount of sugar to use:
http://hbd.org/cgi-bin/recipator/rec...l?14613607#tag

good luck on your next brew.


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