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Old 08-25-2008, 11:38 AM   #11
Aug 2007
Jersey Shore
Posts: 109

If your first brew is drinkable, then you have success. If it is really drinkable, congrats on good sanitation and methods. Since yours was a success, try to take notes so that you could reproduce it again. Ex. steep time & temp, yeast pitching temp, water source..... I just rebrewed my first brew again, 1 yr later, and it is still delicious. I remember the first one tasting a little better, but who knows, I was just shocked to make good beer right off the bat. You'll produce beers all over the spectrum of quality. Sample different suppliers, Northern Brewer, Austin Homebrew....and educate yourself on this forum and Palmer's book.

Best Wishes & Save some of that beer to try in 6 mos. Peace.

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Old 08-25-2008, 12:29 PM   #12
Laughing_Gnome_Invisible's Avatar
Jan 2008
Posts: 12,251
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Originally Posted by TwoHeadsBrewing View Post
I cannot speak for everyone else, but my first batch was not a kit but a recipe recommended by the LHBS owner. It was a very simple Extract + Steeping Grains Pale Ale. I think the really good taste of my first batch had to be attributed to the steeping grains, and the freshness of the extract. I don't want to knock kits, because I'm sure there are good ones out there, but sometimes I wonder about the freshness of these kits that sit on shelves or in warehouses for months...or longer. In addition, if you don't use steeping grains you're not going to get as much of that malty/grainy taste that you get with commercial micro brews.
Your experience is parallel to mine. My first brew was an extract recipefrom a book. I had to make hop substitutions based on total noob guesswork, but it still surpassed later kit brews. Until I go AG I have now reverted back to extract recipes. They seem to end up cleaner, clearer and better tasting somehow.

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Old 08-25-2008, 12:35 PM   #13
Boerderij_Kabouter's Avatar
Dec 2007
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
Posts: 7,760
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Originally Posted by Loup View Post
This beer is drinkable, I enjoy drinking it and would definitely choose it over the bmc that somehow ends up in my refrigerator after my parties (which usually ends up being used to cook brats or make bread.)
Originally Posted by carnevoodoo View Post
There have only been a handful of beers I've made that I would consider great, but I am a total beer snob.
This is really the heart of the hobby IMO. If you are a relatively inexperienced beer drinker, then it is much, much, much easier to make a great beer. This is not a bad thing, but because of this you do have to take opinions and advise in general (no offense, but especially on an online forum) with a grain of salt. If brewing great beer was easy enough to do for your average Jo Blow with a $25 beer kit and some extract, I don't think the world of commercial beers would be what it is. People often have an overinflated idea of their beer, and there friends go along with it because it IS very cool that you made your own beer. That said, I have made exactly one beer to date that was great (smoked porter), one that was very good (raspberry wheat), and many that were uber quaffable and everyone generally liked. I have also made quite a few batches that were very meh, either because the recipe was not what it could have been, my technique was growing, or I screwed something up.

Keep brewing and the beers will improve, try to make each batch a little better and improve your technique. Keep reading here as the wealth of knowledge is incredible and WILL make your beer better by association.

And btw, congrats on making a drinkable first batch!

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Old 08-25-2008, 03:03 PM   #14
GregR's Avatar
Aug 2008
San Diego, CA
Posts: 1,118
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all I was shooting for on my first batch (ha, all the batches really) was drinkability. I've only made a handful of beers but they are progressively getting better. I have high hopes for my current batch thanks in a very large part to the advice and techniques discussed here.

congratulations on making a drinkable beer. you have to admit it tastes better just knowing that you made it rather than going out and buying it.
That's what Jamil said.

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Old 08-25-2008, 03:08 PM   #15
shecky's Avatar
May 2008
Watertown, CT
Posts: 40,052
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I haven't made anything I'd call great, but they have all been given good reviews by my beer snob friends, so that's good enough for me at this point. My only goal has been to always improve the process and learn as much as possible, which is why I come here a million times a day.

What I make won't blow anyone away, including me. But then I remember the 2 Coors Lights and one Corona sitting in my dorm fridge, courtesy of my sister-in-law, that have been sitting there for at least 3 years. I won't touch them, ever. Mine far exceeds those.

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Old 08-25-2008, 03:19 PM   #16
Grinder12000's Avatar
Jul 2008
Columbus WI
Posts: 2,995
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I've only made a handful of beers but they are progressively getting better
+1 on that. It seems every brew I add some little tweak that I WISH I had known before the last batch.
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145 batches and counting

West Coast Blaster #4 almost go and on tap and a Dbl Chocolate Stout aging/carbing. Brewing East India Porter #4

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Old 08-25-2008, 03:23 PM   #17
TwoHeadsBrewing's Avatar
Feb 2008
Chico, CA
Posts: 3,924
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As far as making "great" beer, I'd say these are the pieces of equipment that helped me make better beer. Listed in order of importance:

1. Wort chiller - enables cold break, and minimizes chance of wild yeast infection
2. Big kettle for full boils - I got a turkey fryer which came with a 7.5g pot.
3. Temperature control - Being able to control the fermentation is huge IMHO. Especially with touchy yeasts like Hefes, a couple degrees F can make a lot of difference in the end product.
4. All grain setup - the first couple batches weren't that great due to my AG newbness, but the last few have been amazing.

Fermenting: ESB
Kegged: Extra IPA, Brown Ale, American Wheat, Blackheart Stout
Coming Up: Dunkleweizen, 3C Pale Ale

DIY Fermentation Chamber
More Brew Stuff

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Old 08-25-2008, 11:23 PM   #18
TheFlatline's Avatar
Jun 2008
Ventura, CA
Posts: 428
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Ironically, the american amber I started out with got worse IMHO the longer it aged. There are 2 or 3 bottles left, and the bitterness has stood out from what was originally, after a month or so, a really nicely balanced beer. I'm sure if I let it age for a few more months the bitterness would fade back into the balance again, but it won't live that long.

The Hefe was probably average to above average. Not a fantastic hefe but still better than Pyramid IMHO (I liked the tastes, and the hop balance was spot on). The Irish Red, while a little light on the hops bitterness even for the style, went over swimmingly with my father for his birthday. I tasted one the other night, and it's got a nice, surprisingly gentle malt flavor with a nice little kick towards the end, but with a predominant malt character.

The stout tastes exactly like my 3rd bottle of Guinness extra stout tastes like, and next up is a Belgium trippel.

My next major endeavor is to really be able to control fermentation temps. I need to build son of fermentation chiller (I have everything but the insulation, which is a pain in the ass to find around here for some reason) and then I need to get a bucket and submersible pump for my IC.
I never did like to do anything simple when I could do it ass-backwards...

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Old 08-26-2008, 12:05 AM   #19
Sep 2007
Sheffield, UK
Posts: 1,275
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My first beer, if I'm honest, sucked dog balls. But I think every beer I've made since then has been better than the one that preceded it, to the point now where I'm pretty confident that I can make stuff that's better than any mass-produced commercial beer available, and comparable to some independent brews. Stick with it. You'll get heaps better, and before long I bet you'll be genuinely impressed with yourself.

A side-effect of brewing that I didn't expect is that as I become more familiar with specific ingredients I've brewed with, I've got to the stage of beer geekdom where I can now recognise the flavors of some individual malts or hops when I taste them in a beer. I'm sure the more you brew, the higher your standards get.
Bottle conditioning: Pliny the Elder clone; Tramp's Overcoat Barley Wine
Next up: Vanilla Porter

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Old 08-26-2008, 01:37 AM   #20
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Bobby_M's Avatar
Aug 2006
Whitehouse Station, NJ
Posts: 23,384
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My first two batches were drinkable but just barely. I drank it mostly when I ran out of commercial beer. There are about 20 little process nuances that you miss no matter how many times you read Palmer's "How to Brew". You fix a couple of them at a time and then start brewing good beer... maybe.
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