Top 5 ways to improve your beer - Home Brew Forums

Register Now!
Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Top 5 ways to improve your beer

Thread Tools
Old 05-13-2005, 10:19 PM   #1
Janx's Avatar
Dec 2004
San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 1,677
Liked 17 Times on 11 Posts

This topic sprang from another thread, but most of my top 5 are things I have mentioned here again and again. Here's what I posted off the top of my head and in no particular order (except sanitation really is number one):

1) Effective sanitizing procedures
2) A large, clean, healthy yeast starter made from quality liquid yeast
3) Racking to a secondary within a week
4) Fresh quality ingredients and use of whole hops
5) All-grain brewing

Post your top 5!
Oh don't give me none more of that Old Janx Spirit
No, don't you give me none more of that Old Janx Spirit
For my head will fly, my tongue will lie, my eyes will fry and I may die
Won't you pour me one more of that sinful Old Janx Spirit

Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2005, 12:29 AM   #2
Registered User
Sep 2004
Posts: 107
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

1.) Sanitize
2.) Fresh ingredients
3.) Large healthy starter
4.) Know your equipment and have a consistent routine
5.) pay attention to details
I do not believe you need to all grain brew to make quality beer! To many brewers have won competitions using extract to say that. And whole hops are not the end all either, I do favor them myself, but the fact is that pellets keep longer, take less space to store, and give higher utilization than whole hops!
Now, after reading another thread, I have to say 2 other things are extremely important, those being a full boil and fermenting at the proper temperature, which another person stated, these certainly could/should replace my original #4&5!!

Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2005, 02:27 AM   #3

1. Sanitation.

2. A healthy starter (I just began using them about four batches ago - if I only knew what I was missing!).

3. Practice - like anything else in life. The more I brew, the better I get at it.

4. Patience - relax and have fun. Otherwise, what's the point?

5. Oh, yeah - did I mention sanitation?

Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2005, 09:38 PM   #4
tnlandsailor's Avatar
Apr 2005
Knoxville, TN
Posts: 522
Liked 15 Times on 12 Posts

Here was my original list from the previous thread:

1) Effective sanitizing procedures
2) A large, clean, healthy yeast starter
3) Fermenting at the proper temperature
4) Fresh quality ingredients
5) Utilizing a full wort boil

I actually did put my list in order of importance, but 3, 4 and 5 are pretty equal and this is the order I ended up with.

I like Roobarbs inclusion of "Practice".

Hands-On Brewing

Dennis Collins
Knoxville, TN
Innovative Homebrew Solutions
Home of the Hop Stopper!

Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2005, 09:51 PM   #5
Ken Doggett
Apr 2005
Bend, Oregon
Posts: 17

I would have to ditto all the above. Here's how I list the top five ways to improve your brew:

1. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. I sanitize after brewing and before the next brew. Everything that touches the wort gets sanitized twice.
2. All Grain - I am a believer in all grain. You can control the efficiency. You cannot control the efficiency of extracts. Use fresh ingredients.
3. Liquid yeast - made into starter. Again, sanitize to keep out infections.
4. Glass carboys for fermentation - get rid of plastic. Transfer from primary to secondary in about a week. Keep at proper fermentation temps.
5. Full wort boil - very important.
Water = potential beer wasted.

Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2005, 12:41 AM   #6
May 2005
Intervale NH
Posts: 22

Hello, I'm new to this forum. So, why not start in by adding something that's sure to render many opinions. I rarely do any 2ndary fermentation. I do a complete and temperature controled fermentation and imediately transfer into corny kegs for carbonation, aging and dispensing (ah). Personally, I feel that the more you mess with your beer while fermenting, the more risk you take of contamination. There are cases where I think it's a good thing, as in brewing a lager style that requires a long aging period. If I need to do this, as soon as the primary frementation is done, I transfer to a corney keg and put it under enough pressure to maintain the seal and let it age in there. This is a form of 2ndary fermentation I would imagine, but I carbonate that beer without transfering to another vesel for dispensing after a proper ageing period. I rarely brew these styles, so it does not come into play that often. The other styles are mostly best when drank fresh, so why put your beer thru one more handling stage that's not needed. My beer gets many comments on clarity and I rarely have a person spit my beer out with a sour look on their face.. if they do, chances are mega-lite is their favorite brand. The rest of the top 5 reasons, I agree with at one level or another.

Ken Smith

Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2005, 01:43 PM   #7
DeRoux's Broux
DeRoux's Broux's Avatar
Nov 2004
Beaumont, Texas
Posts: 2,959
Liked 6 Times on 4 Posts

1. mad sanitation
2. yeast starter - utilizing quality liquide yeast
3. quality, freshest possible ingredients
4. proper fermentation techniques (includes all-glass fermentation vessels, racking after primary fermentation, and proper temperature)
5. patience, patience, patience

i second the full, vigorous wort boil, and the practice. the more we brew, the better the brew!!!!
DeRoux's Broux

Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2005, 09:34 PM   #8
andre the giant
andre the giant's Avatar
May 2005
Southeast Missouri, USA
Posts: 539
Liked 4 Times on 4 Posts

1) Sanitation
2) All-grain
3) Proper techniques, (All glass, transfer to secondary, proper fermentation temp)
4) Practice and being "worry-free"
5) Full Wort boil

Honorable mention: Liquid yeast with starter. I've made good beer without the starter, but having a good slurry of yeast to pitch sure does help make the process "worry free."

As far as racking to a secondary goes, I still bottle my beer and by racking to the secondary fermenter, I can separate the beer from the sediment, allow it to clear, and make sure it is completely done fermenting before bottling. I allow 10-14 days in the primary, which some people disagree with, but it really depends on my schedule and when I can fit the racking process in. If properly sanitized, I think the Secondary fermentation is a big plus to my brewing.
After a year of sitting idle, Andre's All-Grain Brewery has reopened.
Batch #59-Kolsch (Secondary)
Batch #60-Blueberry Ale (Primary)

Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2005, 10:43 PM   #9
Dirty blonde
DesertBrew's Avatar
Jan 2005
Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 5,770
Liked 115 Times on 101 Posts

This seems to be a good place to drop in some information I read on White Labs web site (FAQ) regarding "Healthy Yeast Pitch". Sorry it's a bit long but I was intrigued with their "too much yeast" can have negative affects. From this I thought about tossing batches on a prior slurry...

How can I pitch 1 million cells per ml per degree Plato?

Some homebrewers now want to pitch more yeast in 5 gallons then a pint starter. An often quoted number is to pitch 1 million cells/ml/degree Plato of beer, which equals about 250 billion cells for 5 gallons. That is okay, more cells are not detrimental until about 400 billion cells. For those that enjoy yeast culturing and want 250 billion cells, one vial can be added directly to 2 liters of wort starter, and after two days of incubation, will be equal to roughly 250 billion cells. Is this necessary? Every brewer will have a different opinion, but here is some information:

a. The source of the 1 million cells/ml/degree Plato figure: Professional brewery literature.
Most professional breweries re-pitch their yeast because they have the fermentor design and facilities to reuse yeast. So most brewery pitches are actually re-pitches, and only 2-10% of brewery pitchings are using freshly propagated yeast. One of the main sources of contamination in a brewery is the pitching yeast. So in order to out-compete other organisms, large quantities of yeast must be pitched. When propagated by a professional yeast laboratory, the yeast is grown under sterile conditions, sterileoxygen and special nutrients are used to improve cell construction and performance. This does not occur in a brewery, so numbers they use to "pitch" take into account the inadequacy of their brewers yeast. The yeast is also unhealthy due to prolonged growth without oxygen and nutrients. In addition, brewers yeast will always contain some contaminants that need to be out-grown, and 1 million cells per ml per degree Plato has been found to be the best marriage of high pitching rates and no negative flavor effects (Higher pitching rates can lead to unhealthy yeast and a "yeasty" off bite). Liquid yeast grown by a professional laboratory should have no contaminants, so out competing contaminants found in the pitching yeast is not a concern.

One thing that contributes to flavor contribution in beer is yeast growth. If less yeast is pitched into beer, more yeast growth takes place, so more flavor compounds such as esters are produced. Depending on the amount produced, this is how pitching rates can have a direct effect on flavor profile. If 5 to 10 billion cells are pitched into wort, this definitely has a negative flavor impact in terms of higher ester levels and potential for bacterial contamination. But does a pint starter worth of yeast (30-50 billion cells) pitched into beer tasted different then 2 liters worth of yeast (250 billion cells)? Sounds like more homebrew has to be made to get to the bottom of this! Your feedback is appreciated.

Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2005, 06:35 PM   #10
May 2005
Posts: 9

Originally Posted by tnlandsailor
Here was my original list from the previous thread:

1) Effective sanitizing procedures
2) A large, clean, healthy yeast starter
3) Fermenting at the proper temperature
4) Fresh quality ingredients
5) Utilizing a full wort boil

I actually did put my list in order of importance, but 3, 4 and 5 are pretty equal and this is the order I ended up with.

I like Roobarbs inclusion of "Practice".
I'll ditto this list here. Liquid yeast is nice, but so is culturing your own. There are some yeast out there you can't get in liquid form any more.

The Panhandle Beer Snob and Redneck Brewery

Reply With Quote
Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Questions to improve my beer. minus Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 11 09-18-2009 05:16 PM
How to improve a kit beer koomber Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 5 09-07-2009 04:10 PM
Wow beer really does improve with age! Kiwi_Jonno Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 5 03-20-2008 04:51 PM
How to improve already bottled beer Muss General Techniques 4 05-10-2007 09:15 PM
Ways to open a Beer JimiGibbs General Chit Chat 5 12-21-2006 10:10 PM

Forum Jump