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Old 10-13-2009, 08:23 PM   #1
Trooper-Orange
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Aug 2009
Fountain, Colorado
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Hello All,
I started homebrewing about three months ago. I have since done three brews and am about to do a fourth. I am looking for opinions on what would be the next step to take in increasing the quality of my beers. I have outlined my brewing process as it stands now, any suggestions on what you think would help are welcome.

I so far have used extract kits ordered online mostly from midwest. I already do a full boil, I use a wort chiller, and only primary fermentation so far. Tried a secondary once, and it was a PITA. Right now I usually go about two weeks in a primary fermentor, then into a keg and carbed with CO2 in the keg over a week. Right now I document gravities ... but that is about it. Being as I am brewing from kits I don't know what there is to gain from better documentation.

Ideas for improving:

Going all grain?
Using a secondary?
Letting beers age more?
Slower carbing or done with priming sugar and not CO2?
Better documentation?

My beer so far is by no means bad, just I want to keep improving until I can consistently brew something better than just "good" on a regular basis.
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Old 10-13-2009, 08:28 PM   #2
ChshreCat
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Aug 2008
Camano Island, Washington
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I can suggest two steps. The first is moving to partial mash. It's not much more complicated than doing an extract brew and it can REALLY increase what you can do.

The other step is temperature control. If you can keep your nail your fermentation temp and keep it steady, it's a huge step.

edit: Giving your beer more time to condition before drinking it will help as well. Three weeks grain to glass isn't much for most beer styles.
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Old 10-13-2009, 08:30 PM   #3
Trooper-Orange
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Aug 2009
Fountain, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChshreCat View Post
I can suggest two steps. The first is moving to partial mash. It's not much more complicated than doing an extract brew and it can REALLY increase what you can do.

The other step is temperature control. If you can keep your nail your fermentation temp and keep it steady, it's a huge step.
Thanks for the suggestions. When talking about fermentation temp, right now I just sit the fermentors in the basement, which in summer is at 70 and in winter is 65.... am I missing something here? I know some varieties require certain temps, but what about for your basic ales?
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Old 10-13-2009, 08:32 PM   #4
Windigstadt
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Oct 2009
Chicago
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This may be a bigger step than you were looking for, but personally I would start trolling Craig's List for a chest freezer to use as a temperature-controlled fermenter. I've found that, after proper sanitation, the biggest key to consistent beer is temperature control. Now I should add that I brew a lot of German and Scottish-style beers where low fermentation temperatures are appropriate, but even with many British and American-style ales the difference between fermenting at 65°F and 75°F can be huge.

 
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Old 10-13-2009, 08:32 PM   #5
Trooper-Orange
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Aug 2009
Fountain, Colorado
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BTW ChshreCat is your "Do you have a flag?" below you name there a reference to Eddie Izzard? I recall him talking about colonization of India using that line. Hilarious.
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Old 10-13-2009, 08:34 PM   #6
Edcculus
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Jun 2007
Greenville, SC
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Temp control. If your air is 70, the beer is warmer

 
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Old 10-13-2009, 08:36 PM   #7
ChshreCat
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Aug 2008
Camano Island, Washington
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trooper-Orange View Post
BTW ChshreCat is your "Do you have a flag?" below you name there a reference to Eddie Izzard? I recall him talking about colonization of India using that line. Hilarious.
No flag, no country! That's the rule... I... just made up...

For most ales, mid 60's is a good temp. So, if the air temp in your basement is 70, then your beer is likely in the mid to upper 70's. A fridge or a freezer with a temperature controller, or even an insulated box with frozen water bottles would be a step up. The main idea is to hit about 65, and keep it steady. Even if you're in the right range, it can have an effect on your beer if your temp is swinging up and down from day to day or from day to night.

If your basement is down in the lower-mid 60's in the winter, just putting your fermenter in a big tub of water will help. The extra thermal mass of the water will keep your beer at a more steady temp as the air temp changes.
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Old 10-13-2009, 08:37 PM   #8
Trooper-Orange
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Aug 2009
Fountain, Colorado
Posts: 73

Now I am starting to wonder how much of a pain it would be to get a freezer to my basement. lol
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Old 10-13-2009, 08:39 PM   #9
Hugh_Jass
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Nov 2008
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Quote:
Ideas for improving:

Going all grain?
Using a secondary?
Letting beers age more?
Slower carbing or done with priming sugar and not CO2?
Better documentation?
I'm going to say none of the above. There was a contest held in the past few weeks on these boards. The runner up for BOS was an extract/steep brewer. All grain will not necessarily improve the quality of your beers.

Yes, you should document your brewdays well. Yes, most of the time, longer aging will lead to better tasting beers. Controlling fermentation temps will greatly improve the quality of your beer. I don't know what your budget is, but a craig's list fridge/freezer and a temp controller will allow you to ferment at the EXACT temperature desired. Controlled temps, coupled with a proper pitch rate, will help to improve the quality of your brews

Good luck and cheers

EDIT: fat fingers are typing slow today
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Old 10-13-2009, 09:00 PM   #10
ChshreCat
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugh_Jass View Post
I'm going to say none of the above. There was a contest held in the past few weeks on these boards. The runner up for BOS was an extract/steep brewer.
Actually, that was a pretty big partial mash brew, not an extract/steep. 6lbs of grains to 4 lbs of extract.
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