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Old 03-07-2009, 02:37 AM   #1
Kaiser
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Default Make every batch an experiment

Guys,

Here is a suggestion to the scientific minded of you: Make every batch an experiment.

I have started that and I brew every recipe twice and (try to) change only one thing in the recipe or the process. Well, except for seasonals I may make an exception if I don't feel like it. This is a nice compromise between variety and being able to show youself what effect a particular change has. And most process changes are not dependent on the beer itself. Sometimes I change my mind and use the 2nd batch to fix something that didn't go as planned for the 1st batch but that should be the exception.

For example my last batch pair was a Pilsner and I was able to repeat the fermentability of the wort within 0.1 Plato. Not that this was the goal of that batch but it showed me how repeatable mashing can be. The difference between the two beers was freshly propagates yeast for the 1st one and harvested yeast for the 2nd one.

I'll see how they turn out. There is anecdotal evidence that harvested yeast leads to a better flavor profile than freshly propagated yeast.

This is how I keep the experiments and beer coming in my brewery. And I'm not interested in brewing every style out there anyway.

Kai
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Old 03-07-2009, 03:45 AM   #2
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I love your idea about making every batch an experiment! Do you ever find yourself making smaller sized batches or do you ever split a five gallon batch to experiment that way as well? I see some guys on here may split a batch to taste variances among yeast. I'm thinking that may be one of my next "experiments" in the brewhouse.
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Old 03-07-2009, 04:44 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsmith179 View Post
Do you ever find yourself making smaller sized batches or do you ever split a five gallon batch to experiment that way as well?
Occasionally I split a 5 gal batch into a few 3/4 gal batches and ferment them in 1 gal growlers. In this case I actually bottle them by filling the beer into a large sanitized pitcher and then I fill the bottles from this pitcher. Much easier than getting out the bottling bucket. But I don't make 1/2 batches b/c the days/nights when I can brew are limited

The idea is to keep the overhead to a minimum.

Kai
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Old 03-07-2009, 01:17 PM   #4
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I did a big batch of MO wort and SMaSHed it with 40 IBUs of different hops, feremented in growlers. Was one of the best experiments I ever did and I will be doing another set soon. Really helped to get "up close and personal" with each hop's flavor and bittering profile.
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Old 03-07-2009, 01:34 PM   #5
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I just started doing 8 gallon batches to split them into 2x 4 gallon ferments. I just brewed an English Brown Ale - pitched one with WY1318 and the other with WY1968.
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Old 03-07-2009, 01:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaiser View Post
Here is a suggestion to the scientific minded of you: Make every batch an experiment.
I've done this to some extent without really thinking about it. My first few batches were just to get my processes down. Once I got that, I felt confident enough in trying to perfect (relatively speaking) a style... that being Helles. I brewed 4 10-gallon batches changing only one or two parameters... a slightly different decoction schedule, a different yeast, less or no Munich/Cara-Pils malt, adding a touch of aroma hops.

I was also surprised to see how much difference a yeast strain can make, particularly in the English-style yeasts. I found that one can make a completely different beer (flavor-wise) with the exact same recipe just by switching from one English strain to another.

Experimenting sure isn't for every brewer and I think it's really more of a mind-set than specific procedures. For those of us who are more detail-oriented and scientific-minded, it's a lot of fun... and rewarding.
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Old 03-07-2009, 04:26 PM   #7
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I keep detailed notes of every batch I brew, too. Once you build up enough brews, you can start looking at these data to spot trends. As Kaiser suggests, if you try to keep everything consistent between brews (e.g., recipe, process, fermentation, etc.) then this facilitates comparison and makes it easier to spot trends. I'll also add that it allows one to examine what aspects of their brewing process are most consistent and what aspects are most variable (e.g., attenuation, bitterness, etc.). This can be really valuable for identifying steps in your brewing process that could use some fine tuning.

Regarding experimentation, it is probably worth mentioning that simply comparing one batch to the next (even if the process was similar) is not truly experimental. Experiments require that one or a very few variables are changed, and that some control exists for a baseline comparison. Splitting batches is a great (and scientific) way to accomplish a brewing experiment because it provides a built-in control, i.e. the entire process was the same for each treatment group EXCEPT for the one factor of interest (e.g., different yeast). That way, when you do make a direct comparison of the finished beers, you are certain that any differences you observe are the result of the sole factor you manipulated. If you compare different beers from a similar (but not identical) origin, this still has value but requires replication, particularly if the differences you are assessing are subtle.
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Old 03-07-2009, 05:16 PM   #8
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Well said Fly. This is why I am going to start out with yeast experiments and such (dry hopping, post-fermentation additions, temperature of fermentations, etc). But saying that you want to compare this batch with a half pound extra of crystal malt means you need to hit the mash temp the same, the ferm temp the same, pitch identical amounts of yeast, etc. Potential to be difficult.
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Old 03-07-2009, 05:25 PM   #9
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I've been trying to pull about 3/4-1gal out of every batch and either dry hop it with something different or add a second yeast or make some kind of change. Little to no extra work and if it turns out horrible, its only a little beer lost to the cause of science.
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Old 03-07-2009, 05:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker36 View Post
I've been trying to pull about 3/4-1gal out of every batch and either dry hop it with something different or add a second yeast or make some kind of change. Little to no extra work and if it turns out horrible, its only a little beer lost to the cause of science.
That's a really good idea. I may start trying that, too. Sounds like it would be pretty easy.
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