matching the best commercial beers - Home Brew Forums
Register Now For Free!

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > matching the best commercial beers

Thread Tools
Old 09-14-2008, 05:30 PM   #1
Jun 2008
Posts: 544
Liked 6 Times on 6 Posts

Hi all, on the whole I am satisfied with my brews, around half are full mash. But a bottle of good commercial beer has a certain edge over anything I brew. I do not know how to describe this edge, it is maybe a mix of freshness, pleasant bitterness and aroma. I try using more hops at the start, more aroma hops for the last 5 minutes, but that doesn't help. Any ideas as to what I should concentrate on, please. I use floor malted maris otter pale malt, goldings, fuggles, challenger, target and cascade hops, although not at the same time, obviously. Challenger plus cascade for aroma is my favourite.

Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2008, 05:35 PM   #2
bradsul's Avatar
Sep 2006
Ontario, Canada
Posts: 4,898
Liked 32 Times on 25 Posts

There are a ton of ways to improve your beer. My best improvement came when I started controlling my fermentation temperature. If you use liquid yeast a starter will make a big difference as well.
Canadian Brewers Unite!

Projects: Sylvania Kegerator Conversion, Tower Cooling, Grain Milling Station

Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2008, 06:50 PM   #3
Beerbeque's Avatar
Feb 2008
Sierra foothills CA
Posts: 511
Liked 28 Times on 21 Posts

I'm a relatively new brewer (15 batches) but I noticed that my most recent brews have approached the quality of commercial ales and I think that the reason is: collecting a full 7 gals from my mash, boiling down to 5 gals which takes a full 90 min boil.
Give us this day our liquid bread

Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2008, 05:03 AM   #4
WBC's Avatar
Jun 2007
La Puente, CA, California
Posts: 2,164
Liked 8 Times on 8 Posts

The above comments are right on. In order to have a clean beer (no off tastes) you must control every aspect of the process. Most new brewers do not control the fermentation temperature at the required temperature due to costs involved. If you really want better than commercial results then refrigeration and a digital controller (Ranco) are a must have. Being extremely sanitary is one of the other must-do item for exceptional beer. Using the best freshest ingredients is important. Fresh yeast (liquid) is the only way to know that the yeast is a pure strain which gives that edge to quality that dried yeast can not match either and I know I will get a lot of flack from this statement too but that is my opinion and I'm not saying that you can't make good beer with dried yeast so don't get your shorts in a knot over this. Liquid yeasts are really easy to propagate with the proper equipment which lowers cost and improves early fermentation after pitching the proper volume of viable yeast which prevents off flavors because other organisms can not compete with yeast that is working so quickly on your wort.

Fermentor 1: Bill's House Ale II, Fermentor 2: German Helles, Fermentor 3: Bill's Schworzbier (Black Bier)
Tap 1: Bill's House Ale II, Tap 2: German Hefewizen, Tap 3: Nut Brown Ale
Future Brews: Stone IPA Clone, Blonde Ale, Budvar Clone, Newcastle Clone
New toy: Blichmann 27 gallon fermentor

“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging”

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment”

Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2008, 07:07 AM   #5
Feb 2007
Posts: 64

i have found that it depends on what you key into. as long as the basics are there, sanitation, reasonable ferm temp etc it depends on each person. for me it is the hops, i simply can't stand a brew with a lousy hop profile(not bitterness really). if you can give me that then i seem to be able to forgive a multitude of sins. others might find , say, diacetyl to be the one thing they can't abide. I brew with british style hops(willamette is a favorite) and for some reason i have found the mash ratio to be important to me. my wife has to have lots of bubbles she just likes them fizzy.

my local water makes a great pale ale but i have to be careful with even a brown ale, let alone a stout, to get acceptable results.

figure out what makes those commercial brews so likeable and get that right. life will be good. with even moderate control you will be able to surpass those commercial brews.


Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2008, 07:59 AM   #6
Apr 2007
Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 307
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

A good recipe should not be overlooked as well. A lot of brewers, both professional and home, brew with identical processes. Some of their beers are meh, some are amazing.

Finding that elusive balance between flavour, bitterness, aroma, and mouthfeel is all in the recipe.

Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2008, 04:12 PM   #7
Senior Member
ajf's Avatar
Oct 2005
Long Island
Posts: 4,646
Liked 105 Times on 99 Posts

Another couple of things that can dramatically affect the quality of a beer are water treatment and adequate aging.

Although it is quite possible to brew good beers without water treatment, dramatic improvements can be made with the correct treatment especially in the case of pale ales. However, be careful. Incorrect water treatment can ruin an otherwise acceptable beer.
Beers (like wines) need time to mature in the bottle. I recently brewed a pale ale which was bottled in early June. It was so-so by the beginning of July, and quite drinkable by the beginning of August, but last weekend (after 14 weeks in the bottle), it was spectacular. Unfortunately, I'll never know if it was still improving because it all got drunk over the weekend.

Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2008, 04:02 PM   #8
Jun 2008
Posts: 544
Liked 6 Times on 6 Posts

thanks, everybody. I will try to control fermentation temperature first, the bucket does get quite warm in the first 24 hours, often my brews are finished in 48 to 72 hours.

Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2008, 05:33 PM   #9
tdavisii's Avatar
Jan 2007
St. Louis
Posts: 714
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

I agree with a lot of the above. I found that when i tried to get to complicated my beer tended to be sub par. I now try to keep it simple. The less i worry the better my beer comes out. Bottom line keep it clean and keep it simple. My .02

Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2008, 10:37 PM   #10
Nov 2007
Parma Hts. OH
Posts: 424
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Commercial beers are amazing. As cool as it is to brew your own and have it taste great, getting the same taste every single time you buy that commercial brand is a marvel of brewery engineering.

Every aspect is controlled. Yeast is always the same, grains are malted to be the same, water is purified, all piping is stainless and constantly sanitized, and all temnperature is carefully monitored. In addition, they mix batches together to even out the taste differences and to get the same consistant taste.

As far as my stuff goes, I use water from the purifier machine at the store ($.25 a gallon) and I sanitize everything as well as I can. Other that that I am happy that I get alcohol and something that tastes like beer. LOL
Primary - Apfelwine
Secondary - Niagara white wine
Kegged - AH Special Holiday Ale, AH Cream Ale, AH Honey Wheat
Bottled - Continental Pilsner, Island Mist Mango Citrus, Island Mist Wildberry Shiraz
Up next - AH Foster's clone, Labatt's clone, Hard Apple Cider,
The Independence Street Brew House

Reply With Quote
Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
What commercial beers are in your 'fridge? dantodd Commercial Brew Discussion 446 03-06-2015 11:20 AM
Commercial Beers containing lactose? kawasakiguy37 General Beer Discussion 11 03-08-2013 03:06 PM
Diacetyl in Commercial Beers Matt Up North General Beer Discussion 13 04-13-2009 02:39 PM
Feedback re:matching commercial beers BOBTHEukBREWER All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 13 11-10-2008 03:23 PM
Commercial Sour Beers Bopper General Beer Discussion 8 09-23-2008 11:29 PM

Forum Jump