Originally Posted by dfc
Why not experiment?
Because it's not "experimentation" if you don't understand, or have experience with the BASICS first.
My take on this is that there is a difference between true experimentation and throwing things together "willy nilly." I have noticed on here is that a lot of noobs think what they are doing is experimentation, when in reality they are just throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall and hoping it sticks.
Working on your process is good way of doing this, as is reading.
Throwing a bunch of stuff in your fermenter and seeing what you get at the end, and ending up making an "is my beer ruined" thread is not the same thing as experimenting.
To me, in order to experiment truly, you have to have an understanding of the fundamentals. You have to know how the process works somewhat. You have to have an understanding of how different ingredients or processes affect the final product. You may even need to know, or at least understand something about beer styles, and what goes into making one beer a Porter and another a pale ale. And where your concoction will fall on the continuoum.
To me it's like cooking or even Jazz. But going back to the cooking analogy. Coming up with a balanced and tasty recipe takes some understanding of things...just like cooking...dumping a cup of salt will more than likely ruin a recipe...so if you cook, you KNOW not to do that...it's the same with brewing...you get an idea with experience and looking at recipes, brewing and playing with software how things work..what flavors work with each other, etc...
That to me is the essence of creating...I have gotten to a point where I understand what I am doing, I get how ingredients work or don't work with each other, so I am not just throwing a bunch of stuff together to see what I get.
I have an idea of what I want it to taste like, and my challenge then is to get the right combination of ingredients to match what is in my head. That's also pretty much how I come up with new food recipes as well.
You'll get there....a LOT sooner, if you focus on the fundamentals, and get your processes in order...rather than just playing around.
If you're brewing with kits, and want a stronger beer, then brew higher gravity kits.
If you want a strong beer, don't choose a normal gravity beer and decide that since you read about boosting gravity by adding more sugars to just add more sugar, choose a beet of the grav you want, just like if you wand a peach beer, don't choose a non fruit beer recipe and try to "figure out" how to add the fruit...get a kit or recipe that has everything you need in the right quantities you need. Recipes are about a BALANCE between flavors, bitterness, aromas, what have you, and until you get a few batches under your belt, and learn the fundamentals, stick with the already proven and balanced recipes. That way you don't have the extra step of trying to figure out what went wrong if the beer doesn't taste good.....if the recipe or kit already tastes good (and they would have gone through tastes tests and ALREADY before you got to them- you know they are already good, if not award winning beers, if you went with a kit or book recipe, they have been vetted) if there is something not right, you will have an easier time trying to figure out what went wrong in terms of your brewing PROCESS, not because you went off the ranch and on top of trying to actually learn to brew, you also through a bunch of crap into the equation.
If you want a fruit beer, buy a fruit beer kit....Beer recipes are a balance...and if you add to one variable, that will affect other parts of it...For example if you decide to raise the gravity of a balanced beer...a beer where the hops balance out the sweetness...and you raise the maltniness of it without also balancing the hops, then your beer may end up being way too cloyingly sweet. Or if you just add sugar willy nilly it could become overly dry, or cidery.
At this stage most folks trying to do it don't know enough yet, and they won't learn just by jacking a recipe o your first time out of the box. Don't start altering recipes on your first batch, or else you're gonna be posting a thread titled, "Why does my beer taste like I licked Satan's Anus after he ate a dozen coneys?" And we're not going to be able to answer you, because you've screwed with the recipe as well as maybe made a few noob brewer mistakes that typically get made, and neither you, nor us, are going to be able to figure out what went wrong. Because there's too many variables.
Just brew a couple batches and learn from them, and read books about recipe creation before you start messing around. It's not about tossing stuff into a fermenter and seeing how it turns out.If you want to make strong beers, learn to make GOOD beers first.
Read and learn about creating great RECIPES, not just how to boost the alcohol content of a beer. Learn about the ingredients, how they affect each other, how they balance each other.
There's nothing WRONG with Cooper's kits, or any kits really, they don't need to be messed with by a bunch of new brewers who don't know anything yet.
They weren't made by amateurs for chrissake, recipe kits be it kit and kilo or other kits are designed by folks with a LOT MORE EXPERIENCE then the person wanting to f with it....