Hi folks. So, I'm about seven batches into my brewing career, all standard kits with extract and steeping grains from Midwest or my LHBS, and before I do my next one I wanted to slow down, cast a critical eye, and do some research for some issues I've noticed in my brews. Overall, they've turned out well, drinkable anyway. But I'd like to improve my technique. I thought I'd list some 'problems' I'd like to tackle, what I've learned from reading up on the issues, and see whether anyone can tell me if I'm the right track or give any additional advice. Seems for every opinion there's another side to the coin.
First and foremost; beer sameness. I've done mostly ambers and browns, with a pale ale and a scottish thrown in. Now, I would imagine they would taste similar no matter what; but after they sit for a few weeks they taste EXACTLY the same. I've used american dry ale yeast on all of them and thrown in a cup of brown sugar during the boil.
Secondly, while the taste of my beers have turned out pretty well, there's a bitter aftertaste in every batch that I'd like to get rid of. From what I've read, this could be due to the water I use. I'm not sure how to get a water report for my area. I use a Brita filter for my boil and spring water for top off. I've tried to see what common off flavors are released and how, but I'm having a hard time matching the flavors to the cause, having no experience in the matter.
Next: head retention. When I first open a bottle after two weeks carbing, they pour out great, that bitterness I mentioned isn't there or very weak, and has a great head on it. As time goes on half the bottles are losing head altogether, or it dissipates very quickly.
Lastly, chill haze. Just want it gone.
Ok; bear with me, just figured I'd make one succinct post instead of separate ones. This is my plan of attack, based mostly off threads here:
1. Switch to liquid yeast, as different strains make up much of a beer's flavor
2. While I'm trying to figure out what my local water is like, use all spring water (do I need to add any minerals?)
3. Adding the bulk of fermentables at the end of the boil helps head retention and clarity, or possibly add wheat/barley flakes.
4. I bought a wort chiller, as I read the quicker the wort is cooled the less chill haze there is.
As far as why my bottles are carbonating strangely, I'm at a loss. I rack onto the solution to mix it up. The only other things I want to try are leaving out the secondary unless dry-hopping to cut out oxidation, and pitching at cooler temps; I've been doing it at 80 degrees and I'm realizing that's pretty high. Nothing I can do about hot fermentation right now, no room for a tub to keep it cool in, though I think that's another big issue I'm having as its generally mid 60's low 70's now that its summer.
Sorry to be so long-winded, I want to take a step up and having no one to bounce ideas of off, just wanted to make sure I'm not way off base. So many variables its a little overwhelming. Beer is beer, but it can always be better!