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Old 02-13-2012, 09:58 PM   #1
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Default When to quit the kit?

Hey everyone,

Apologies if this has been addressed numerous times. I'm about to start my second beer and am wondering, when am I ready to quit the kit? I'm a jazz musician, and I see a TON of similarities between brewing and music-- having patience, a personal style and "flavor," being able to improvise, and having an intuition in different unfamiliar situations.

With that being said, I totally understand that brewing is an artform which requires a lot of time to develop a thorough knowledge of. I'm expecting this to take at least 5-10 brews before I have a decent (limited) understanding of how beer brewing works. However, is it to my benefit to get away from the ingredient kits as soon as possible? Should I try recipes online and mix ingredients from scratch? Right now I'm just a college kid doing this in my apartment, so space is somewhat of an issue. I have the true brew K6 kit btw.

So, when to quit the ingredient kit? Would it be more beneficial for me to search out recipes and try to make it from scratch? Is the kit just going to be a crutch and hold me back in the long run? Thanks everyone!

Dan

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Old 02-13-2012, 10:07 PM   #2
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Quit the kit now!!! I've never been into kits and think I'm a better brewer because of it. You have to accept the fact that your experimentation can sometimes produce crappy beer but that's just part of the learning process. Just read a lot about the different kinds of grain and experiment away. If you're still doing extract then pay special attention to which grains must be mashed and don't use those for steeping. Also, Designing Great Beers (Daniels) is a must have for making up recipes.

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Old 02-13-2012, 10:11 PM   #3
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My first brew I used a kit. My second brew I used a kit but added/adjusted to create something different. My third brew I found a recipe on this site for a clone and made that. Now It's all free-style and I have to say that going at it on my own is SO much better. Sitting down and creating my own recipe is just as fun as the actual brewing.

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Old 02-13-2012, 10:12 PM   #4
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You could easily start following "extract with steeping grains" recipes - they really aren't that different from kits. Do you have a LHBS you could go to? I always enjoy getting the ingredients myself (e.g. crushing the grain).

Before you begin completely "improvising" I would recommend getting your process down.

But hey you'll make beer regardless...

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Old 02-13-2012, 10:17 PM   #5
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My first brew I used a kit. My second brew I used a kit but added/adjusted to create something different. My third brew I found a recipe on this site for a clone and made that. Now It's all free-style and I have to say that going at it on my own is SO much better. Sitting down and creating my own recipe is just as fun as the actual brewing.
I totally agree. Making the recipe is almost the best part for me.
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Old 02-13-2012, 10:19 PM   #6
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Brew what you want and like. Kit or no kit. You make the beer you drink. You decide. No advantage to either method. Personal preference.

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Old 02-13-2012, 10:29 PM   #7
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I totally agree. Making the recipe is almost the best part for me.
yeah, i have to jump on that bandwagon. creating a recipe is great fun, and it's so rewarding when the beer turns out excellent. i've made some good beer from recipe kits, and i still brew them. using known recipes can make some great beer too, but there's just something really enjoyable about crafting a recipe and having the beer turn out really well.

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Originally Posted by dkziemann View Post
Hey everyone,

Apologies if this has been addressed numerous times. I'm about to start my second beer and am wondering, when am I ready to quit the kit? I'm a jazz musician, and I see a TON of similarities between brewing and music-- having patience, a personal style and "flavor," being able to improvise, and having an intuition in different unfamiliar situations.

With that being said, I totally understand that brewing is an artform which requires a lot of time to develop a thorough knowledge of. I'm expecting this to take at least 5-10 brews before I have a decent (limited) understanding of how beer brewing works. However, is it to my benefit to get away from the ingredient kits as soon as possible? Should I try recipes online and mix ingredients from scratch? Right now I'm just a college kid doing this in my apartment, so space is somewhat of an issue. I have the true brew K6 kit btw.
hey Dan, welcome to the forum and the hobby. you're very right, brewing is an art form. much like cooking, creating a recipe is a great way to come up with something completely your own. even just doing your own take on a classic recipe will yield something unique to your brewery. i really enjoy brewing recipes of my own creation. there's a lot of great information on crafting your own beer, in books, magazines and here on HBT. a couple good books that've helped me learn how to make some pretty great beer are Designing Great Beers and Brewing Classic Styles. there's a bunch of great information out there, so do some searching, but those are two books i highly recommend.
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Old 02-13-2012, 10:29 PM   #8
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Brew with a kit to prove to yourself you can in fact make beer.

Brew from a tried and true extract+specialty grains recipe to prove to yourself that there's nothing mysterious about kits, and to gain confidence in your process.

Once you're comfortable that your process works and have a familiarity with the impact of different specialty grains, start tweaking tried and true recipes to better suit your tastes.

Once you've got a good handle on the properties of different specialty grains, try your hand at creating your own recipes from the ground up.

The more you educate yourself, the faster you'll probably be comfortable getting to that fourth step. You may end up making a few sub-par beers, but learning from your mistakes is part of the process.

One philosophy that I embrace is that if your goal is to learn what impact a change has on your finished product, don't make lots of changes at once. In other words, if you're making significant changes to your process, it would serve you well to use a recipe with known results. If you're making significant changes to a recipe, use a process that you know works for you.

The more you learn, the more you can probably get away with changing.

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Old 02-13-2012, 10:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkziemann View Post

So, when to quit the ingredient kit? Would it be more beneficial for me to search out recipes and try to make it from scratch? Is the kit just going to be a crutch and hold me back in the long run? Thanks everyone!

Dan
1. Quit when you feel kits are not enough of a challenge and you know you could make better beer. I trained with 100 kits, and never had a contaminated or bad AG batch yet.

2. Use recipes till you know what the difference between Chocolate malt and Pale Chocolate malt is. Recipe's are great, some brewers out there already figured it out and wrote it down. The only time i change someones recipe is when i dont have the same kind of ingredients, or when they have taken crystal malt too far.

3. The kits will make you a better AG brewer than had you not done them first.
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Old 02-14-2012, 01:59 AM   #10
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Thanks for the advice! I think I'll give one more kit a shot and then try making my own from scratch.

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