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Old 11-19-2012, 04:06 AM   #1
BobbiLynn
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Default You aren't learning unless you are experimenting?

I got my first home brew kit as a gift, about 4 years ago. Since, I have purchased whatever supplies I needed if I wanted to try a certain recipe. Usually I do 5 gallon batches in glass carboys, bottle them, and don't bother with recipes that require a secondary fermentation. I might try that next, but as a perfectionist, I would make sure I had all the correct supplies first then just follow the instructions. I buy recipes and follow all the instructions to a T. I've never really thought about what it's doing, until I looked up the info online. I've just always sanitized, measured and followed directions. How boring, I know. But, I've also never had a bad batch.

Anyway, I'm glad I found this place and looking forward to experimenting with some of the things I've learned. I'll take pics as I can.

Thanks for welcoming me in the introductions area, I'm BobbiLynn and I love beer!

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Old 11-19-2012, 04:11 AM   #2
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Following directions is good practice. You are perfecting the process. If you come across a great recipe, you may have better success than another person.

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Old 11-19-2012, 04:26 AM   #3
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Well BobbiLynn, it's probably true that you don't learn unless you are experimenting.
When you first started out, it was pretty much an experiment. You had the right ingredients, all the required equipment and instructions, but since you hadn't done it it was pretty much an experiment.
As for secondary fermentation, you will find tons of disagreement about the need for a secondary.

If you've been doing this for four years, you are ready to experiment more.

I don't live near a brew store, so when I was extract brewing I would buy extra extract,hops and grains when I was in town.
After a while, I decided to try an IPA on my own. Pretty straight forward. Pale ale and a strong hop presence. Came out pretty good. Did a couple others using what I had on hand also that came out well. Pretty satisfying to make a great beer that you didn't have a recipe for.
Next came all grain. That's certainly more of an experiment than your first extract batch.

If you want to try experimenting and learning. Think of some other type of beer you like and find a recipe. Give it a try.

Are you extract or all grain brewing?

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Old 11-19-2012, 12:27 PM   #4
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I think I'd turn it around to "You're not experimenting unless you're learning." I've seen recipes on these boards that are essentially word salad - a bunch of ingredients thrown together with no concept of what they actually do. And I'll confess that my first few recipes were like that. But brewing like that isn't really experimenting. Without some basic technical knowledge, if you have half a dozen or more variables in a recipe it's hard to know what to change if you don't like the result. So what happens is the brewer changes a bunch of ingredients all at once, again with no fundamental knowledge of what they're doing. Often, they'll ask on these boards and get a whole bunch of wildly different responses and then pick a few bits of advice from each, and the resulting recipe is again, word salad.

Read, learn, experiment, take notes, change one or two variables and repeat. (Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels is my Bible, BTW)

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Old 11-19-2012, 12:41 PM   #5
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Well,reading on here helps a lot,obviously. Not to mention,seeing pics of the resulting brews. It does give one an idea of what ingredients work well together. In light of that,it can be construed as experimenting. I started wanting to add flavor/aroma hops to the Cooper's cans,which you can't boil. So I replaced the Brew Enhancers with 3lb bags of plain DME,half in the partial boil to do the hop additions.
I then realised adding different cans together,or different DME's & hop schedules could give different beers. I look at it as the extract version of using different grain combos.
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:48 PM   #6
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Even though I build all my own recipes I eliminate the guess work by researching tons of recipes on the internet from other brewers who have tried the same styles...eventually you get some tips on who not to do and what may work and then I just run with it.

I am yet to brew an All Grain beer from my own recipe that was not at least "drinkable", some are good and every once in a while I strike gold and find one that is just awesome! To me this is much more rewarding than just buying a recipe off the shelf with no tailoring to your own likes.

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Old 11-19-2012, 02:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Are you extract or all grain brewing?
Extract! All grain brewing is probably out of my league right now!

I've always been afraid to change anything on a recipe because I didn't want to mess up the ratios and cause the wrong chemical reaction. So now learning what each ingredient actually does... Yeah, I guess if you don't learn this stuff, makes it hard to experiment!
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:58 PM   #8
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Play around with recipes and get more comfortable. Try something on your own.
After that you probably wont be so intimidated with all grain.
Just start off with exact recipes again doing beer styles that you like.

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On tap
Black Butte clone

In secondary
Pumpkin ale

In primary
Honey wit

Up next.. Firestone Union Jack clone

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Old 11-19-2012, 05:04 PM   #9
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I followed the instructions on my first two brews (both kits from the LHBS)... Third batch was one I heavily modified. Fourth batch (my only partial mash, went all grain after that) was my own recipe. Since then I've been making my own recipes, working off knowledge I've gained along the way. Some came from reading/research, other from just thinking about things.

I find that brewing is a lot like cooking. While some people need recipes to follow, or they make crap, others can grab some ingredients and make something wonderful. I've been cooking for over 30 years, and I fall into the second category. I will say that I do measure more with brewing than I do with cooking. I also use good tools/software to formulate my recipes. After that, it's all up to the yeast (which I'm rather selective of).

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Old 11-19-2012, 07:52 PM   #10
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if you aren't learning unless you are experimenting, then i should be learning my butt off.

i have LOTS of experiments going

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