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Old 08-13-2009, 09:58 AM   #1
size's Avatar
Dec 2008
Posts: 184
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Thought this might be helpful for the newbies (myself included!) so I thought I'd start a little list.

1) Fermentation Temperature - The temperature of the room the brew is in is NOT the same as the temperature it should be fermented at. I don't know if I'm the only one but I totally missed that even after reading How to Brew and Designing Great Beers, and it's had a drastic effect on my brewing. MAKE SURE the temperature of the room you're brewing is ~7 degrees lower than what your fermentation temperature should be.

2) Sanitation - The one's obvious. More sanitation = less infection. Besides that you can always develop some off flavors from poor sanitation, even if it's not an infection.

3) Changes During the Boil - If you messed up and your gravity is too low, let some of that water boil off! There are a ton of different things during your boil that will effect your beer, and having complete control over them is a must.

4) Yeast Choice - This is obvious to most by now, it's very very important to research your yeast depending on your style. This includes what temperature to ferment at, the probability of a blow-up, whether you need a blow-off tube, etc.

5) Hop Choice - This can define a style. You need to know what the characteristics of the hops you choose are, not to mention what country they're from (to know what type of a style you're brewing). And when it comes to pale ales and IPAs (my favorite!), hop choice is everything. So research that %$#^! Get it memorized!

Would like to see some of the higher-ups post in this thread, let us know your opinion. And remember, no one is WRONG here, it's just an opinion-based list. Have fun!

Also newbies feel free to post too!:f
"If marriage didn't exist, would you invent it?" -Doug Stanhope

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Old 08-13-2009, 11:07 AM   #2
Feb 2009
Modesto, CA
Posts: 83

6) Always use your Hydrometer! This seems obvious to those who have brewing for a while, but it is IMO the most important step. Hydrometer readings tell you exactly what is happening with your beer. Is it ready to go to secondary?, Is my fermentation stuck?, Did I kill my yeast by doing this?, How do I know when to do X? This and many other things are answered quickly and effectively with gravity readings.

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Old 08-13-2009, 12:25 PM   #3
Dec 2005
Glasgow, Scotland
Posts: 696
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I'll go for my top 5, they overlap with yours a bit.

1) Cleanliness & Sanitation. Become obsessive about these two guys. Just because your beer doesn't taste like vinegar doesn't mean your sanitation is perfect. Low level infections can linger in the background making your beer not all it could be. When was the last time you replaced your plastic equipment or cleaned your dip tubes?

2) Fermentation. If you're using liquid yeasts you must be making 2 or 3 L starters, preferably aerated or stirred. And that's just for an ale. If not, use dried yeast. Keeping the temperature stable is vitally important. If you dont have some kind of temp control then you'll have to be imaginative when brewing in the warmer months. Aeration of wort is very important especially for liquid strains.

3) Fresh Ingredients. Hops especially, if they're cheesy in the slightest or you're unsure about them, chuck em. I'm not really bothered about malt that has been crushed for a few months, it will be fine.

4) Water. Some may consider this advanced but you must pay attention to things like treating water for chlorine/chloramine, reducing alkalinity if your water is hard, ensuring there is enough calcium for mash/fermentation reactions to take place. Water is more than 90% of your pint, use crappy water and your beer will be crap.

5) Maturation and Finishing. This can only be learnt from experience, but don't drink your beer before it is ready, let your tastebuds guide you. Carbonation can be harsh and unpleasant IMO if not allowed some time to meld with the beer. Cold conditioning and lagering can improve your beer too.

If I could have a 6th it would be 'don't oversparge!'

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Old 08-13-2009, 12:25 PM   #4
Doe Re Mi Beer
schweaty's Avatar
Sep 2008
Glass City
Posts: 1,808
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+1 on the fermentation temperatures.

Of all the things that I have done to my brewery the fermentation chamber has had the biggest effect on the final quality of my brews. My last 5 beers have been far superior to the previous ones.

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Old 08-13-2009, 12:39 PM   #5
AnOldUR's Avatar
Mar 2007
, New Jersey
Posts: 6,887
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Originally Posted by schweaty View Post
+1 on the fermentation temperatures.

Of all the things that I have done to my brewery the fermentation chamber has had the biggest effect on the final quality of my brews. My last 5 beers have been far superior to the previous ones.
This is true, but even with poor temperature control, you'll make drinkable beer. I'd put healthy yeast and then sanitation at the top of the list. Without these you'll be buying your beer from the store.

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Old 08-13-2009, 12:45 PM   #6
jkarp's Avatar
Jun 2008
Elizabeth, CO
Posts: 2,112
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My top 5 would be:
  1. Fermentation temperature control.
  2. Yeast pitch count.
  3. Good strong boil.
  4. Wort aeration.
  5. Cold conditioning.

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Old 08-13-2009, 12:56 PM   #7
Apr 2006
Green bay, WI
Posts: 312
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Sanitation - this is up there.
Water - biggest improvement was getting finding campden tabs.
maybe yeast- safale 05 or notty. thats usually my biggest factor
location- in garage or out. this makes a big difference in my brewing experiance. (specially in the winter)

thats it. everything else is left to chance. I just aint picky.

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Old 08-13-2009, 01:06 PM   #8
HenryHill's Avatar
Mar 2007
Perry, MI
Posts: 3,040
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Wait, WHAT?


No 'Just Wait, Don't Dump'?

Every time a batch of beer gets dumped, a Revvy loses it's wings.
Originally Posted by orfy
Never mock another man's brewery.
Originally Posted by IrregularPulse View Post
This is HBT of course. Normal Thread that goes every direction but the one intended. This forum should be scientific proof the beer causes ADD

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Old 08-13-2009, 01:24 PM   #9
Loweface's Avatar
Sep 2007
Limerick, Ireland
Posts: 1,037
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1: Order
2: Brew
3: Keg
4: Drink
5: Reorder

Originally Posted by Me
In the process of buying a bar... One drink at a time...
Originally Posted by chortly View Post
...homebrew contains more satisfactrons per serving, so you don't have to drink as much as you would a commercial beer to get to your satisfactron saturation.

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Old 08-13-2009, 01:33 PM   #10
beerkrump's Avatar
Mar 2009
Triune, TN
Posts: 2,113
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+1000000000 HH!

From my point of view, one thing is paramount. This is a hobby and it is meant to be fun. Two things can interfere with that fun, stress and ruined beer. Therefore , my list is set up to prevent those two things from occurring.

1) RDWHAHB - Have fun. You're not getting paid to do this, so you gotta be doing it for the enjoyment of it.

2) Sanitize - Nothing will more surely ruin your brew than some mold or bacterial infection. It's a pain, but is the single most important step to producing beer.

3) Yeast Management - Give the yeast an environment at the correct temperatures and don't over or under pitch. It's not that hard and really helps in controlling off flavors.

4) Patience - The single most difficult thing for the beginner to master and the one thing that will make the biggest contribution to taking your beer to the next level.

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