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Old 11-07-2007, 04:30 PM   #1
Nov 2007
Posts: 123

I'm new to the game - so new I havent even bought my equipment yet (although it's gonna be a good weekend!)

I'm buying a kit thats got the ingredients included for my first batch (an Irish Red Ale or an amber ale...havent decided). Once I get through that one, I want to gather my own ingredients, but after reading a bunch of articles, I'm having a hard time articulating what I like in a beer...which translates into:

"How do I pick ingredients that will a produce a beer I like?"

Now I understand there is a bit of science mixed with some trial/error, but as far as taste, texture and color, there have to be some rules of thumb.

I'll be making ales first, but I think the kit I am going to get has a glass carboy as well as 2 buckets, so in the future I will be able to produce lagers... that being said, lets stick to the ales. Of course, that's difficult since all my favorite beers are lagers...

1. Sam Adams Lager - I would describe it as having a yeasty taste...not too bitter. Smooth and has a nice consistency to it. Def thicker than a Heineken, but def not a guiness.

2. Brooklyn Lager - Same as above but with a pinch more bitterness

3. Stella - I really like this lager, but its so different from Sam and Brooklyn that I dont even know how to describe it.

Can the qualities of those beers be transferred to an Ale? Not sure...I ask you pros.

Ales I have tried and like: Sierra Nevada, Pete's Wicked - which are different that - Fullers London Porter and Guiness - which I also like. As a whole, I tend to like reder/darker beers than the brighter lighter colored beers.

At the end of the day, I'll drink anything, but it would be great to make something I'll REALLY enjoy thats unique.

So can you guys process this rant and spit back some logic?

Thanks in advance,

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Old 11-07-2007, 04:42 PM   #2
david_42's Avatar
Oct 2005
Oak Grove, Oregon, USA
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The simplest method at the start is to buy clone kits for the beers you like.

Making an ale that tastes like a lager. The key using a very neutral ale yeast that will ferment around 60F (like Nottingham) or using a lager yeast that ferments in the same range (California Common).
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Old 11-07-2007, 04:49 PM   #3
Ale's What Cures You!
Yooper's Avatar
Jun 2006
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And as you get into homebrewing, often your tastes will change. I don't really care much for lagers any more, but I love IPAs. That is a total reversal of my preferences from a couple of years ago!

If you like Sierra Nevada pale ale, a clone of that is easy. If you like stout, that's easy too. I suggest doing what David_42 mentioned- go to austinhomebrew's website and look at the kits they have and find a clone of a beer you know you like, staying away from lagers for the time being.

Of course, once you gain experience, you'll be able to make any beer including lagers if you still want to!
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Old 11-07-2007, 05:06 PM   #4
...My Junk is Ugly...
BierMuncher's Avatar
Jan 2007
St. Louis, MO
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Sam Adams is essentially just like an amber ale. I've done all-grain ale clones with great results. I'd say dive in with whatever kits you're looking at that get you close, and forget about trying to zero in on a particular commercial example. You'll be pleased at the (different) results.

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Old 11-07-2007, 05:28 PM   #5
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Oct 2007
southern mass
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[QUOTE=YooperBrew]And as you get into homebrewing, often your tastes will change. I don't really care much for lagers any more, but I love IPAs. That is a total reversal of my preferences from a couple of years ago!

+1 you'll find your beer taste will evolve. Like that's a bad thing good luck
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Old 11-07-2007, 05:30 PM   #6

Originally Posted by IvanTheTerrible
... Ales I have tried and like:... Fullers London Porter and Guiness...
I agree with everything posted above. When first time brewers ask what to brew their first time, I always recommend a Brown ale, Stout or Porter. Stouts and Porters are easy to brew and b/c of their flavor profiles, they'll hide flaws that might otherwise come through in pale ales. So, you have a better chance for success and being pleased with your results.

Austin Homebrew and Northern Brewer have good kits and I'm sure there are other online retailers I'm missing. Your local HBS might have some, too.

Good luck. Ask any questions and definitely let us know how it goes!

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Old 11-07-2007, 10:13 PM   #7
malkore's Avatar
Jun 2007
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You could also pick up one of these books: Designing Great Beers...and Beer Clones.

I find the process of 'reverse engineering' a beer by looking at a clone recipe's ingredients helps me understand what those ingredients do for the recipe.

citrusy hops vs. cleaner hops, malty grains that lend more flavor than fermentables...etc.

I honestly haven't read either, but I have Designing Great Beers ordered and it was shipped today.

How to Brew by John Palmer is also a good resource for understanding ingredients, especially if you have any desire to go all grain someday.
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Old 11-09-2007, 03:03 AM   #8
Nov 2007
Posts: 123

Thanks guys.

So in my quest to figure out what I like, I bought a Brooklyn Brown Ale. It's drinkable, but not really my cup of tea. I'm not sure how to describe it, but I'll try.

I felt like it was fruity compared to other beers. I've never tasted anything like it before...I think it was too bitter. The Style Guide calls it medium to high bitterness... I think this was on the high side.

Is an amber Ale similar? If it is, I don't think I'm going to make it my first brew.

I really enjoyed the Fuller's London Porter, and I think I'm going to make a Porter my first brew.

Does this make sense? What do you guys think?

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Old 11-09-2007, 03:13 AM   #9
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Dec 2005
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When I got here, I was a Budweiser Die Hard! I hated hoppy beers.

Now I consume every IPA I can get my hands on, and I don't touch any light beers! Your tastes will change, but do not be alarmed. It's just your taste buds awakening!

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Old 11-09-2007, 03:23 AM   #10
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Jul 2006
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I recommend a clone of Anchor Porter. That's an excellent beer, and I think there are a few online shops that offer something similar.

Generally, it sounds like you need to branch out a little and experiment with some commercially available ales. Buy a bunch of microbrews that sound good, and give 'em a try. Brew clones or styles similar to those you find that you enjoy.
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