Biggest Difference in the Taste of Beer?

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Rockweezy

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I was wondering as I am relatively new to homebrewing (6 under the belt so far), what changes the taste of a beer the most considering all other things being equal ie. sanitation, temperature, and over variables? Say I am brewing a pale ale, will the hops, type of malt, yeast, or grains I use change the taste the most? Obviously, the differences will change the taste somewhat. Lets say I use the same ingredients, but consitently use different type of hops using the same hop schedule and same weight hops (Cascades vs. Willamette) would that change the taste more than say using different types of pale ale malts and using the same hops over and over? Hopefully somewhat understands what I am talking about.
 

RichBrewer

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To me, changing the variety of hops makes a subtle difference. Changing the amount of hops makes a huge difference. I will admit that I'm no expert when it comes to hops. It's one part of brewing that I haven't figured out. One reason is because I'm NOT a hop head.

The different malts can also drastically change the flavor of the beer. Adding anything from sweetness, roastyness, nuttiness, smoked, to even burnt flavors. Again, different amounts of malt will also change flavor and mouth feel (as well as alcohol content which is part of the flavor).
 

Dude

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I think it is a combination of everything, but the YEAST makes the beer. You can take the exact same recipe of grain and hops and use different yeasts and get totally different beers. Yeast is the key, IMHO.
 

Torchiest

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I totally agree. The yeast definitely makes or breaks the style of beer. I found that out when I started using different liquid yeasts. It was most obvious when I used a trappist yeast. WOW what a difference. Malt and hops give you a lot of flavor variety, but the yeast strain can bring in flavors you can't get any other way.
 

Ize

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Another reason, HBT, best brew board on the web.

I never really thought of it that way but it makes so much sense. Most of the time you just think of the yeasties as doing their thing, making nice little ABV for you, but you don't think about what they are converting as contributing to the flavors of your beer. Simple to overlook, but a HUGE component of what makes up your beer. Not just an engine, but a TRUE ingredient of your brew.


Ize
 

boo boo

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Taste is quite individual. What may taste different to one will taste the same to others.

Personally, I think to me that the yeast changes the most, everything else being equal.
 

mysterio

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Important stuff IMO:

1) Starting out with quality malt, hops, water and yeast.
2) Leaving the beer to mature. Something like a 1.050 OG beer should be left to mature for a month after fermentation before drinking, depending on the style.
3) Temperature - mainly during fermentation. Keep it in the recommended range for the yeast and don't let it fluctuate.
 

Desert_Sky

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Dude said:
I think it is a combination of everything, but the YEAST makes the beer. You can take the exact same recipe of grain and hops and use different yeasts and get totally different beers. Yeast is the key, IMHO.

Thats what I was going to say too
 

Hopfan

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I have 3 experimental batches going. Since most of my "test batches involved playing with grain bills, I wanted to see how the yeast component affects taste. I took a Brewers Best English Pale Ale kit and split it into three 1 gallon jars (the rest I am using for starters). In one, I used Nottingham Yeast, the 2nd has Coopers Ale yeast, the 3rd has champagne yeast. I know they'll be different, but I just wanted to see how the taste changes. I'll let you know how they work out.
 

Cheesefood

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Dude said:
I think it is a combination of everything, but the YEAST makes the beer. You can take the exact same recipe of grain and hops and use different yeasts and get totally different beers. Yeast is the key, IMHO.
Well put, old chap! Yeast is the one thing that's constant in terms of quantity. I could take your favorite IPA recipe, throw a hefe yeast on it and have something wildly different than what you made.
 

zoebisch01

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This is what makes homebrewing (and brewing in general) so fantastic! You could take two brewers, give them exactly the same ingredients and come up with totally different results. One of the biggest factors not to be overlooked is the effect of temperature. Now if you are doing all grain (AG), you have a whole other world of temperature effects that you can tweak to completely change the profile. But in general temperature has a huge effect on what your yeast are producing and how much of it. Take Belgian ales for instance. Many of the traditional Belgian flavor profiles are a result of a staggered temperature profile increase (often up into the 80's!) over time. They didn't add raisins, it mainly comes from the yeast by products at those temperatures.

Plus the whole discussion can take a twist because if you are talking light bodied beers, quite often the hops variations can be detected much more so than in a stout. It all depends. Papazian only likes to play with the malts. That is his thing. Some other folks prefer to play with the hops. Some like to fool with the process. Some like to change the yeasts. I love a combination of all of them. It feels like you are using the swiss army knife of homebrew lol.
 

Fiery Sword

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Definitely the yeast is a huge factor. The one point that I'd add here is that the "most important" ingredients, in my opinion, vary with the style of beer one is making. The hop bill in a super-IPA is what sets that style apart. The malts maybe are responsible for more of the headline character in an Octobersest or Vienna. They water itself in a great pislner. The yeast moreso in a Belgian.

If you want to tweak recipes as a beginning homebrewer, I'd just be sure to keep your tweaks to one variable at a time. If you like a cetain recipe but want to alter it a bit, dont change the hops and yeast strain all at once. Do one thing at a time and keep good notes. In time, you will better have a feel for what-does-what-and-why.
 

Cheesefood

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But what I love the most is that the yeast doesn't really have much of its own flavor. It influences how the malt and hops taste, but it rarely provides its own profile.
 

david_42

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Unlike a lot of folks, I think yeast is only important in certain styles. I can make a very good IPA and a very good stout using a neutral-fermenting yeast. Changing hops can turn a Mild into an IPA, changing the roasting/toasting of the malt runs you from a Pale to Brown to Porter to Stout.

Admittedly, I rarely make the styles where the yeast is the dominate factor. If you want a Hefe or a Belgian, you have to use the right yeast. I don't like either of these styles.
 

Evan!

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david_42 said:
Unlike a lot of folks, I think yeast is only important in certain styles. I can make a very good IPA and a very good stout using a neutral-fermenting yeast. Changing hops can turn a Mild into an IPA, changing the roasting/toasting of the malt runs you from a Pale to Brown to Porter to Stout.

Admittedly, I rarely make the styles where the yeast is the dominate factor. If you want a Hefe or a Belgian, you have to use the right yeast. I don't like either of these styles.
Saying you don't like the Belgian "style" is like saying you don't like the European "style". Within Belgium, there are tons of different styles of beer. Nothing could be more different than Westvleteren-St. Sixtus 12, and Brasserie Dupont Moinette. Hefe is a style. Belgium is a country. Do you honestly dislike all Belgian beer? Just curious. :)
 

RoaringBrewer

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Hopfan said:
I have 3 experimental batches going. Since most of my "test batches involved playing with grain bills, I wanted to see how the yeast component affects taste. I took a Brewers Best English Pale Ale kit and split it into three 1 gallon jars (the rest I am using for starters). In one, I used Nottingham Yeast, the 2nd has Coopers Ale yeast, the 3rd has champagne yeast. I know they'll be different, but I just wanted to see how the taste changes. I'll let you know how they work out.
Sounds like a cool experiment; definitely the champagne yeast in the beer may turn out quite interesting. You should have used a liquid yeast option as well (one of Wyeat/WhiteLabs English Ale strains or something). See if it was really worth the $6 vile...
 

Hopfan

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Once this round is done, I may do it again with an AG batch and throw in a liquid yeast also. I fully expect the batch with champagne yeast to taste like crap, but I was interested in seeing the effect to evaluate modifications to a recipe.
 
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