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Old 12-29-2007, 06:15 AM   #1
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Default where's your balance?

I've been brewing for a little over a year now and I've got a question that I don't think has a specific answer. I've brewed beers that are a bit too sweet, and beers that are a bit too harsh on the bitterness from time to time. For the most part when I brew a style I try to stay within the parameters of the bjcp, yet still I sometimes get the sweet thing or the bitter thing going on too much.

I've realized that just because my calcualations come out within style guidelines doesn't always mean I've made a true example of the style. I was curious how some of you go about specifying quantities of the malt and the hops to get that perfect balance the first time you brew that style. Maybe it really is just trial and error and a bit of personal preference.

Have you ever brewed a style for the first time ever and really felt like you nailed it?

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Old 12-29-2007, 06:24 AM   #2
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I nail 'em all the time.

A good place to start is with existing recipes. See what other people are doing.

Then, understand what each component contributes to the final product.

Then you can make your own predictable recipes.

So yeah, a little experience goes a long way, but you can borrow some of that through recipe searches. You'll see style trends, for sure. Once you understand what everyone is doing with theirs, you can tweak them into your own.

Becomes easy after awhile, actually.

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Old 12-29-2007, 01:23 PM   #3
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Good question! It's set me thinking.

I think one of the best things to do is drink a lot of other people's beer. I know; grand idea, innit? But I'm serious. If you've got a local homebrewing club, join it. Start hitting meetings and hanging out with the veterans. Every single club meeting I've ever attended, anywhere, there has been a sampling session. If you find a recipe you think is a divine example of a style, as the brewer how she formulated the recipe and why she made the decisions she did during the formulation and brewing process.

Rarely, you'll get, "Well, I had a bit of this and a bit of that and I threw it all together to see what would happen." While cool as hell, that's not quite what you're looking for, is it? You're looking for the in-depth thoughtfulness that produces that balance which is so difficult to define, much less achieve.

In other words, choose a master carefully, young Paduan. IMO, the best road to your goal lies in the traditional master/apprentice relationship. The cool part is you get to have an ultra-cool friend who shares beer with you.


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Old 12-29-2007, 02:16 PM   #4
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I think this is where recipe tweaking comes in. If the only complaint you have about one of your beers is "its too sweet" or "its too bitter", I'd say you are in pretty good shape. Those things (I wouldn't even call them "problems") are easily changed within the recipe.

The fun part of brewing for me has been making beers that I have heard described but have never tasted a commercial example of, like: dusseldorf altbier, munich helles, vienna lager, dortmunder export. After following a recipe, you taste it! Is it to my liking or not? Will it EVER be? What needs to be changed to make it right? Sweeter? Drier? Maltier? More or less bitter?

This is a reason I NEVER make clones. I have NEVER tasted a commercial beer and said "THIS IS IT!!! I HAVE TO MAKE EXACTLY THIS!!!" Its always a matter of "yeah, pretty good, but I'd change ..."

The same goes for our own beers. I still tinker with beers I have won awards with trying to get something different. Thats the fun.
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