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Old 02-24-2010, 06:07 PM   #31
DoctorHops
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I would have paid more attention to the fermentation temperature. I would have identified a place in the house that is cool and constant in temperature and found a yeast that ferments well at that temperature. I did this and my beer improved significantly.

I woudl have used a clean fairly neutral yeast that ferments well over a wide range of temperatures like SafAle 05. I would have replaced the yeast in the kit with this or another yeast.

I would cool the wort down to 75 F or lower before pitching the yeast. A wort chiller is a good investment and will do this quickly, otherwise you will sit around for a long time waiting for it to cool. Brew day got a lot more fun and shorter after I got a wort chiller.

These steps helped my beer immensely. I would also add, brew something simple and brew it until it is right. You will learn a lot from this and when you change something in the brewing process, you will know that changes in the taste are the result of changes you made in the brewing process and not the recipe.

 
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:38 PM   #32
beerjunky828
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I would have started with all grain. And I would have used my hydrometer a lot more. I can't tell you how many beers I have made but had no idea how potent they were or should I say weren't.

 
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:58 PM   #33
EricCSU
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To all of you that said you would have started with all grain:

Were you that convinced that you love this hobby before you even brewed a batch? Were you ready to fork over all the money for all grain before even figuring out if you could make good beer?

Sure, I wish I would have bought my 15 gallon pot first, but that pot cost more than my kit and first three batches combined! I could not have justified spending that much money when I didn't even know if it would be worth it.

Hindsight it 20/20, but I doubt that most of you would have put forth all of the money and effort to go AG on your first batch.

Also, I would never recommend that someone use AG for their first batch. Get your process down and really understand what is going on first. Once you have a process down, it is easy to add the AG steps. Of course, if you are brewing with someone much more experienced and they can show you the ropes, that changes everything.

Not trying to stir the pot, I just think that going AG from the start is unrealistic.

Eric
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:59 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrewBarron View Post
On a somewhat related note:

I have only brewed about a half dozen extract batches and am making the jump to all grain. I have two 10 gallon rubbermaid coolers in my garage ready to be converted to a hlt and mlt and I already have a turkey fryer set up for my kettle.

So, with that said, would all you experienced brewers go ahead and build this basic system now, or, would you put a little more time/money into it up front and buy bigger pots/kegs for more capacity later? (I still have the receipt for the coolers).

I was hoping to end up with a single tier set up with at least an electric HLT, if not all electric. I hope to brew 5 gallon batches now, but I am not afraid of 10 gallons batches later down the road.

Everyone is different, but I would start with 5 G batches now and see how it goes. I coudl never see myself brewing 10 gallons at a time. I'm the only one drinking my beer, so it lasts a long time. I actually recently built a 2 gallon MLT so I could brew smaller batches. (A 5 G MLT would be best though.)

If you go Single Tier, then you will need a pump.

If I had to do it all over again, I would go buy a turkey fryer right away, and start doing full boils. As it is, I wish I had a larger kettle now.

Also, I would pay closer attention to fermentation temps. They REALLY matter!

Otherwise, I have had fun building all of my stuff and probably would not change a thing.
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:07 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Homercidal View Post
Everyone is different, but I would start with 5 G batches now and see how it goes. I coudl never see myself brewing 10 gallons at a time. I'm the only one drinking my beer, so it lasts a long time. I actually recently built a 2 gallon MLT so I could brew smaller batches. (A 5 G MLT would be best though.)

If you go Single Tier, then you will need a pump.

If I had to do it all over again, I would go buy a turkey fryer right away, and start doing full boils. As it is, I wish I had a larger kettle now.

Also, I would pay closer attention to fermentation temps. They REALLY matter!

Otherwise, I have had fun building all of my stuff and probably would not change a thing.
Thanks,

I'm going to have to watch myself so I don't go overboard at the start. Its hard not to dream big after reading all these great build threads. I agree that 5 gallon batches should be just fine for now. My investment will be "relatively" small if I just stick with the coolers and my turkey pot.

thanks for the practical advice.

 
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Old 02-25-2010, 01:23 AM   #36
mmonacel
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Great info guys. Besides going to AG and kegging which is my likely path after my first few extracts and funds replenish, any tips and tricks regardless of going AG and kegging? You guys rock!

 
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Old 02-25-2010, 02:32 AM   #37
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I can't really think of anything I would change. I bought an intermediate kit two and a half years ago that included an 8 gallon pot and wort chiller. I moved into all grain within six months, and buy 50# bags of base malt as well as leaf hops by the pound to make custom recipes. I have brewed and bottled over 50 batches now. I'm still happy with my equipment and my system. I don't plan to move into kegging yet. I don't mind bottling.
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Old 02-25-2010, 02:42 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricCSU View Post
Pay attention to fermentation temp. Don't secondary. Make starters.

All cheap stuff that would have made my beer a lot better and saved me time.

Eric
+1. Could not agree more.

 
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Old 02-25-2010, 04:46 AM   #39
beerjunky828
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricCSU View Post
To all of you that said you would have started with all grain:

Were you that convinced that you love this hobby before you even brewed a batch? Were you ready to fork over all the money for all grain before even figuring out if you could make good beer?

Sure, I wish I would have bought my 15 gallon pot first, but that pot cost more than my kit and first three batches combined! I could not have justified spending that much money when I didn't even know if it would be worth it.

Hindsight it 20/20, but I doubt that most of you would have put forth all of the money and effort to go AG on your first batch.

Also, I would never recommend that someone use AG for their first batch. Get your process down and really understand what is going on first. Once you have a process down, it is easy to add the AG steps. Of course, if you are brewing with someone much more experienced and they can show you the ropes, that changes everything.

Not trying to stir the pot, I just think that going AG from the start is unrealistic.

Eric
Agreed. I mean starting extract has really made me understand just what the hell goes into making beer. Going all grain has made me understand how to make good beer. I feel that I did learn a lot in recipe formulation and process by starting out doing extract.

I will retract my statement and say that I should have gone all grain a lot sooner than 18 mos. into brewing.

Also this was mentioned but I will reiterate this: keeping it simple when starting out will make for better beer sooner than later. Take for example my second batch. I made a brown ale (too watery because I didn't bother to take readings). I racked that beer onto a lb of vanilla coffee beans and about 5 lbs of wild blackberries. Too much stuff going on with that beer. Sure it was good, because it was the second batch.

My 4th batch consisted of me taking a regular 5 gallon batch of around 6% abv. and trying to stretch that recipe to fit 10 gallons. I ended up with carbonated hop water. It was awful. I had to dump some. I have never dumped another beer after that in my life. I remember going around and telling people to try it. Oh how I feel for those people who just had to amuse me.

 
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Old 02-25-2010, 05:10 AM   #40
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I have never understood why so many people think AG is such a massive undertaking. It can be incredibly simple, and inexpensive. I did a lot of reading then went for it, and I don't regret anything. I don't think I missed out on learning any fundamentals. Sure I made some mistakes in those first few batches (and still do), but I made excellent beer every time. For real, its just cooking not rocket surgery.
If I could go back, I would have washed and saved more yeast strains rather than using them just once. I would have done a little research before ordering kegging equipment from that scammer in Huntsville, AL too.

 
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