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Old 11-04-2009, 02:36 PM   #1
BrewRI
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Default Whats the next step to being a better brewer and when should I take it.

I finished my first batch which was an all extract kit that came with the brewing equipment kit. It came out pretty good (I don't have any other batches to compare it to) and I'm getting ready to make another one this Sunday. I know All-Grain is sort of the ultimate type of brewing to have increased control over what you can make and how you can control the taste. I also don't think I'm ready for an all grain batch so I was thinking of doing a partial mash. The first batch I made I didn't keep a log of it, I didn't really know what I was doing but it was still fun, the more I read stuff on HBT I got a strong desire to become a legit brewer with the confidence to look at almost any beer and say I can make that.

So the question is, is partial mashing the next logical step?
I know I should keep a log of the beer but what should I record and when?
If partial mashing is the right idea, post up a link to your favorite recipe I love all kinds of beer except fruit beer (I will drink SA Cherry Wheat and a Pumpkin Ale on occasion).

Thanks for your help guys

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Old 11-04-2009, 02:39 PM   #2
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Look into Beersmith (software that helps you formulate recipes and keep notes). 30 day free trial and is worth every penny when you decide to buy it.

As for the actual brewing part - fermentation temperature control and using starters

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Old 11-04-2009, 02:40 PM   #3
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Brew a couple more extract batches and get a better hang of it. Get extract recipes that use specialty grains.

Add Yeast Starter and temprature control to your process. then step up to a full boil and a wort chiller. at that point, you will be closer to all grain.

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Old 11-04-2009, 02:43 PM   #4
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Next step would be extract with steeping specialty grains, then go on to mini mash

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Old 11-04-2009, 02:44 PM   #5
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The next step would to me be using an extract with steeping grains kit/ They are better quality and the steeping grains give the beer bigger depth of flavor than a straight extract beer.

After I did some of those, I started playing around with non kit recipes from this site, and I also started playing around with recipe formulations....I started using free online recipe calculators like this one, Beer Calculus . homebrew recipe calculator which helped me understand how the different ingredients affect each other. FIrst I started typing in these recipes and playinig with them to see what a pound of such and such grain did to the SG of the beer, or how this hop made the beer more or less bitter.

At the same time I started reading more and more about the different ingredients I was using....I found that googling the names helped get me a lot of info on them, plus reading articles and catalogs and books about it.

The BJCP style guide was a big help too, learning the numbers, OG, FG, IBU, SRM's ranges for different styles. BJCP Style Guidelines

Next I formulated a couple of my own recipes and played around with that, making them better or different.

My next step after that was transfering some of my recipes from extract to partial mashes, where I would get the largest amount of my fermentables from mashing my own grains, and then adding some extract.

Around this time I also played with harvest my own yeast, both washing and bottle harvesting.

After that I made a cooler and started doing 2.5 gallon All grain brews, converting those Partial Mashes to All grain, and brewing them on my stove top...

After that I got a turkey fryer and wort chiller so I can do full volume boils and started brewing all grain, brewing some of the recipes on here, and creating my own...

I also still do some extract with grain recipes, Partial Mashes, and 2.5 gallon stove top brewing, depending on my mood.

This winter I tried my hand at brewing lagers instead of ales, since I discovered a few that I like and was able to have some form of temp control....

I also tried my hand at brewing some strong ales, and playing with different yeasts, then my usually clean ones, trying yeast that added their own character to the beers.

A good thing to do is to try brewing Single Malt and Hop Beers where you brew very simple beers to get an idea of how different hops work with them, or different yeasts...it's a really good way to again get an idea how, like cooking, diffeent ingredients play off of each other.

As you can see, I didn't just jump from one technique like extract to all grain, I also tried to learn as much as I could about ingredients and recipe creations as well.....An I also tried to perfect my processes, like bottling, yeast harvesting, things like that...

I still have a long way to go, there's a ton of stuff to learn, different ways to brew to explore, and new styles to try and brew as well...

There's a huge amount of things you can do in this hobby.

Hope this helps!

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Old 11-04-2009, 02:44 PM   #6
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Partial mash is a fine way to go, if you want to ease into all-grain without taking the big plunge.

However, I do advise that the true next step is keeping that log. Keep a log of your recipe and everything you do (e.g., how long it all takes, what your OG is, when you pitch, how long it takes for visible yeast activity to begin, any gravity samples you take, when you rack or bottle (and the SG at transfer), how much priming sugar you add, how many bottles you bottle, best volume estimates for wort that goes into the fermenter, how long it takes the bottle to carbonate and what conditions you exposed them to for carbonation, and tasting notes along the way). It sounds like a hell of a lot of information, but much of it gets recorded in small bits. Believe me, there will come a day when you want to see a bit of information that you would never be able to remember without writing it in your log.

Other than, the next things I advise looking into are temperature control, full wort boils, and a wort chiller.

ETA: Dadgum, you people can type a lot while I am typing! You got a great deal of good advice up there. I'm glad Revvy mentioned the BJCP guidelines, but don't let those tie you down as a brewer. They are good ways to get ideas and give you some guidance on what works where and how different beers can be balanced. However, don't feel like you need to brew to style to be a better brewer. It's your show.


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Old 11-04-2009, 02:55 PM   #7
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Here are a few next steps in order of MY opinion of importance. Do one or all in any order you like:

1.Steeping grains or partial mash all the better.

2.Late Extract addition. If you steep grains, only add half of the malt extract when you start boiling. If you partial mash, don't add any of the extract until the last 15 minutes because the partial mash will have added sugars already.

3. Proper yeast amount. If you don't want to get into making yeast starters for your vials/smack packs of liquid yeasts, pitch TWO. If that's too expensive, use dry yeast. If the OG is over 1.060, pitch two packs.

4. Control your fermentation temps via water bath +ice or +aquarium heater.

5. If you have really hard water, use half distilled water, half tap.

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Old 11-04-2009, 03:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexLaw View Post

I'm glad Revvy mentioned the BJCP guidelines, but don't let those tie you down as a brewer. They are good ways to get ideas and give you some guidance on what works where and how different beers can be balanced. However, don't feel like you need to brew to style to be a better brewer. It's your show.


TL
I agree, about not letting them tie you down. But they do help you understand why a pale ale is not an Ipa or what makes a brown ale and brown ale and not a porter. You can see the subtle differences, especially in the numbers such as bitterness, gravity and color.
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Old 11-04-2009, 03:32 PM   #9
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I just started doing all-grain and have made wonderful beers using extract w/ steeping grains. I feel like fermentation temperature and proper yeast counts are very important. Following that full boils and it takes off from there.

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Old 11-04-2009, 03:54 PM   #10
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Sounds good, I finally got a job that fits my class schedule doing work as a busboy. But I'm 21 not 16 so I'm gonna call it working as a busman. I found a good recipe that involves steeping the grains for 30 minutes then adding extract packets. The next purchases are going to be a floating thermometer, and glass carboy instead of plastic bucket I found under my porch. Also if any mods read this what would you guys think of making a forum where people can only post pictorial threads and reply to them, I feel like I've seen a few around and it could be a good idea. Cheers.

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