Originally Posted by xjmox14x
Yup, water is a key factor in all grain brewing. The different balance of minerals can greatly affect certain types of beer... which is why certain areas of the world brew certain types of beer. Their water profile is suited for it. With extract, however, distilled or RO water is typically considered the best because the extract already has the minerals it needs in it, so playing around with water chemistry typically is not a concern.
I definitely agree with you on moving to all grain though. I don't think it should stop you, but if you want to really refine your process, starting and perfecting a simpler extract procedure would be the way to go. I believe there are ways around that "twang" as outstanding award winning beers have been brewed with extract, but I couldn't tell you exactly how, or the science behind it.
I have had two major changes in my my brewing since my first two batches. One was the better water filter and the second was keeping an eye on fermentation temps. So far, I've found the process to keep my beer fermenting at around 64-67 degrees, is to put the bucket or carboy in a soft sided cooler (looks like a square gym bag that can fold down). This does two things, protect from any mess that may occur and also, allows me to drop an ice pack in there. Every morning when I get up I swap a new one and put it in there. They are about 9x9 and about 2 inches thick. I don't actually let it touch the bucket, just set it in there and wrap a towel around the whole thing, covering the bucket and all. That let me go from fermenting at 74+ degrees to 64. Granted, it has gotten cooler since my first brew, but my basement is still relatively 68 ambient temp. Those two factors were huge in ridding the third beer I brewed, a porter of that "Twang" the first two had. I wonder if beginner brewers don't realize how much a fermenting beer can go up in temp on it's own.
I guess there really is a third thing as well, that I didn't really count. Letting the beer sit and give it time to age. I am about 7 weeks since brew day for the first two beers. Kegging allowed me to constantly be tasting the beer and wondering why it tasted that way. There still is a slight twang in the first two, but now that I am in week 7, pushing 2 months since brew day, the beers have really come into their own and definitely are losing that "Twang" Don't forget to give your beer time.
A lot of kits tell you that you can be drinking your beer in 4 to 5 weeks. I would say for most beers, this is still two early. It's now that I'm kicking myself for taste testing them to almost empty far before they were ready. If it wouldn't have been for a week in Disney, I really don't think that I'd have let them sit long enough to taste what they really should taste like.EDIT
I wanted to add, I also do full boils and late LME additions. I've been doing this since the beginning though, so I didn't think it was as big of a factor.