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Old 11-15-2012, 07:23 PM   #1
Nov 2012
Posts: 3

As a new brewer I find it a little overwhelming when thinking about putting together my own recipe. I've done tons of reading and know the general idea behind most of the main ingredients. I have a brewed mainly from recipes at my local shop. What I want to do is really get to know how each of these ingredients will effect the beer directly.

So here is what I had in mind. 4 one gallon extract batches:
1. LME, yeast (control)
2. LME, yeast, single hop addition
3. LME, yeast, steeping grains
4. LME, yeast, single hop addition, steeping grains

A pretty average experiment with a control and a limited number of variables.

If this produces usable results I'd like to carry it even further. Maybe the same setup but with varying times on adding the LME (i.e. 1/2 at 60min and 1/2 at 30mins) and things of that nature.

My question to the anyone who has tried this or has any good ideas on how to try this is:

What should I use specifically for these ingredients, and how much of each should I use to get the best idea of how they are going to effect my beers?

NOTE: I realize that no one type of hop, LME, or steeping grain is going to reveal all the secrets of every ingredient but I do believe that something like this can give me some insight on how hops effect the bitterness of a beer in general, etc...

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Old 11-15-2012, 08:35 PM   #2
Sep 2011
Beaverton, OR
Posts: 1,929
Liked 296 Times on 209 Posts

You're right, the problem is there are a ton of hop varieties and a ton of grains. So making a conclusion based on hop a and grain a might not apply to hop b and grain b.

I have never tried this with two samples not having hops, I'm not sure what you're going to learn there. Like beer is the combination of water, yeast, malt, and hops, testing things that don't include all 4 might not give you much to learn.

So I think in general we know that steeping grains give you a more complex beer compared to plain extract, and adding LME later in the boil leads to less off flavors and a lighter color. Boil hops longer they get more bitter. They get more fragrant the later you add them.

What I'd try to figure out is what hops you like, how much bitterness you prefer, and what types of grains you like. You can do this by brewing, or you can do this by drinking beer and figuring out what you like. Do you like 100IBU beers? Roasty malts, chocolate, pale? Then you can look at style guidelines and build your beers based on those guidelines and your taste preferences.
-Retired Homebrewer

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Old 11-15-2012, 08:50 PM   #3
jwalk4's Avatar
Jun 2012
London, Ontario
Posts: 954
Liked 163 Times on 132 Posts

I don't mean to discourage you, but IMO this experiment will be extremely costly, not be very beneficial to your knowledge of brewing ingredients, and would be difficult to to keep even results.

A better way to go forward is to pick a simple style, say an APA and brew 2, one gallon batches each with a different yeast strain. Then brew 2, one gallon batches with your favorite yeast, but use different hops.

What I am trying to say is focus on perfecting a style of beer, rather then learning to detect different beer ingredients.

In the meantime, learn about the difference between Base malts and specialty malts, bittering hops and finishing hops, on paper.
Fermenter 1 - Vienna /Saaz SMaSH
Fermenter 2 - Dry as a bone
Drinking - various craft brews, Tiny Bottom PA
Beer styles I'm trying to nail down: APA, Porter, Mild, Amber, & Something Yellow and Fizzy.

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Old 11-15-2012, 08:51 PM   #4
Jan 2010
Missoula, Montana
Posts: 328
Liked 54 Times on 37 Posts

Personally, I would drop experiment #1 & #3. It will be largely undrinkable, depending on your pallet. Hops, or some sort of bittering agent, is necessary to achieve reasonable balance (be it towards malt or towards bitter), otherwise you'll have a sickly sweet beer. I also think you might want to consider a different type of experiment to get what you're really after - and that is to better understand the various ingredients. Your current experiment will only prove what most of us all ready know - hops impart bittering, grains impart flavor, mouthfeel and color.

What I would probably encourage you to consider would be understanding something like various hops, yeasts or grains. For example, brew the same beer with 3 different kinds of hops and everything else the same, then with 3 yeasts with all else the same, then 3 different kinds of steeped grain with all others the same. This will help you to better understand the flavors each will impart on the final product.

It's not uncommon for me to do single hop batches or to split a batch with two different types of yeast. I do this, one to better understand each flavor on their own...but also, because many times it makes dang good, simple and cheap beer. Soon enough, though, when you taste/smell enough hops, you'll be able to pick them out fairly well. Yeast, although an incredible flavor variable, is more difficult to discern the strain, so I've found. Grains, like yeast, can be difficult to pinpoint - sure, you may be able to pick up a chocolate malt or a marris otter (examples), but you'd probably have a harder time identifying the dark malts in something like a black patent, chocolate malt and crystal 120 mix within a marris otter backdrop. I guess what I'm trying to say is, experience comes with tasting, but you can get similar experiences just by brewing and knowing what's in each recipe.

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Old 11-16-2012, 12:56 AM   #5
Nov 2012
Posts: 3

It seems as though picking a style then a particular recipe within that style and varying the ingredients in that particular recipe is the way to go. My favorite types of beers are imperial IPAs but they are probably a bad category to start off in for something like this. I know of a good summer ale recipe from my local brew shop that sounds perfect for this.

It's pretty hard to get discouraged when your brewing beer, so I appreciate any helpful advice!

Thanks =D

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