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-   -   How to make sense of it all (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/how-make-sense-all-287880/)

william_shakes_beer 12-17-2011 11:43 PM

How to make sense of it all
 
Here's where I am;

I've made about 10 batches, extract and steeping grains, partial boil. I have taken thorough notes on the recipies for each, the expected OG and FG, actual OG and FG, yeast strain, hops schedule, ETC. and tasting impressions after 4,6,and 8 weeks in the bottle (for those thst lasted that long) A few of the results were quite pleasant, but more than not " left something to be desired" I'd like to take the info I have and somehow compile it into a tool I can use to predict what I will like. I can run Mr Malty and add IBU to the other info, but I'm not sure if I will have something that is useful. I'd like to get to the point where I can look at a recipie and make initial adjustments to suit my personal preferences, rather than just"brew as is" and grind through a batch that's not my favorite. Is there any benefit to what I am looking for, or is it better to just pick a style and experiment until I get a recipe I like, then file it away in the vault and move on to another style? of the 10 batches I've made, 1 I would not touch, and 1 is a rebrew with adjustments that still isn't where I want it.

KCBrewer 12-18-2011 12:09 AM

Try making smaller batches. You could do 5 one gallon batches, each with different modifications that you think you may like.

In the mean time, read up on different malts, hops, yeasts, etc. and take notes of the things you think you may like.

scoundrel 12-18-2011 12:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by william_shakes_beer (Post 3580382)
Here's where I am;

I've made about 10 batches, extract and steeping grains, partial boil. I have taken thorough notes on the recipies for each, the expected OG and FG, actual OG and FG, yeast strain, hops schedule, ETC. and tasting impressions after 4,6,and 8 weeks in the bottle (for those thst lasted that long) A few of the results were quite pleasant, but more than not " left something to be desired" I'd like to take the info I have and somehow compile it into a tool I can use to predict what I will like. I can run Mr Malty and add IBU to the other info, but I'm not sure if I will have something that is useful. I'd like to get to the point where I can look at a recipie and make initial adjustments to suit my personal preferences, rather than just"brew as is" and grind through a batch that's not my favorite. Is there any benefit to what I am looking for, or is it better to just pick a style and experiment until I get a recipe I like, then file it away in the vault and move on to another style? of the 10 batches I've made, 1 I would not touch, and 1 is a rebrew with adjustments that still isn't where I want it.

I think you should just start by just focusing on picking a couple styles. Think about what you'd order at a bar or buy at a store. Then learn about that style. What are the predominant grains, yeast and hops used. Look at all-grain recipes. Note the base malts and find out how they could be converted to extract. Note the specialty grains. Then build a few recipes.

To me, it seems like you're taking the natural path to all-grain.The benefit of extract brewing is its a good place to start. You get excited when you see how good of a beer you can make. But there are so many unknowns and as you get better you start searching for answers to make your good beer great. With all-grain (besides more flexibility) you quickly get an understanding of recipe ingredients and formulation.

Even if you can't go all-grain now that's okay. Simply understanding the style will make converting to extract easier and you'll be able focus on making small tweaks to make some really outstanding beers.

BOBrob 12-18-2011 12:45 AM

+2 on whats been said already. Look in the recipes/ingredient forum for ideas, and Denny's Sticky "Ingredients Guide" is priceless for getting that certain something. From hops to yeast he does a great job of describing the flavors and use of ingredient and what to expect when properly used. I go back to read more all the time. Cheers:confused:

pericles 12-18-2011 12:53 AM

I suggest that you look into Ray Daniel's Book, Brewing Great Beers. Every professional I've ever met has a copy, and praises it as the must-have guide for recipe formulation. Jamil (who is a professional now too, I guess) has said the same thing.

Another good technique is to make a series of simple pale ales: 95% 2-row, then 5% Crystal 20. Make another with 5% Crystal 40. And another with Crystal 80. Then try 5% Vienna, 5% Munich, 5% Honey. You get the idea. That will help you learn about grains.

Piratwolf 12-18-2011 01:10 AM

Hey, Shakesbeer!

Sounds like you're in the same spot I was in September. I did a couple of things that seem to have made a huge difference. Here they are, in the order of importance to improving my beer:
1. Ferm temp control. Eliminated strange, unwanted flavors.
2. Calculating my pitches & making starters according to Mr. Malty
3. Washing/repitching yeast slurry
4. All grain--more control via mash temps, grains, etc
5. small batch test runs on simple recipes as suggested by earlier poster--really helped me dial in my process and flavors
6. Listening to The Jamil Show podcasts every day (no, seriously)
7. Starting to use liquid yeasts

Just FWIW

MikeinCT 12-18-2011 11:09 AM

I have been brewing all grain for a bit over a year. Probably made 10 batches of the same recipe - American Amber Ale. I choose this because I like it. I focused on getting everything right. That means - flavor, abv, yield, technique, time to brew - etc. So pick a simple recipe and focus on getting it right. BTW - I dont think you will make bad beer but you can improve dramatically with practice. You will find lots of help on this forum. I have also found good info on youtube.

jetmac 12-18-2011 11:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MikeinCT (Post 3581205)
I have been brewing all grain for a bit over a year. Probably made 10 batches of the same recipe - American Amber Ale. I choose this because I like it. I focused on getting everything right. That means - flavor, abv, yield, technique, time to brew - etc. So pick a simple recipe and focus on getting it right. BTW - I dont think you will make bad beer but you can improve dramatically with practice. You will find lots of help on this forum. I have also found good info on youtube.

+1

That's a great idea.

william_shakes_beer 12-19-2011 12:41 PM

Thanks for the input.

1. Got a ferm chamber, been using it for the last 4 batches. (frees up my shower!)
2. Started doing starters and harvesting from split starters the last 2 batches. I've decided to limit my yeasts used to the 3 I am ranching to reduce the varibles.
3. Got a stir plate controller just waiting for me to get all the other parts and put it together.
4. Where would I find a link to the Jamal show podcasts?
5. I've already got a copy of "brewing classic styles, which I am re-reading now.
6. Been using liquid yeasts since batch 4.
7. "Designing Great Beers" sounds like a good reference, with more info on the ingredients. Just placed it on order.
8. What container works best for fermenting a 1 gallon batch? I have a small (5cf) fermentation chamber that comfortably holds 1 brewing bucket, but no more.

pericles 12-19-2011 12:44 PM

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