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flyhippy

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So I recently moved to Portland from Fort Lauderdale, and ever since I moved, I have been brewing watery, flavorless beer! I don't feel like anything has changed in my technique, though I did try two different beers... a wheat and a breakfast stout. The wheat is almost dry, watery and flavorless, and the stout is also watery... seems like it could have been good, but just tastes watered down. Any suggestions? I'm doing a partial boil, and adding up to 5 gallons before fermenting. I would also say I have a slower fermentation and higher final gravity's that I had in Florida. HELP, I NEED GOOD HOMEBREW TO DRINK!
 

Ryno

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Not sure how the water is, but for grins you might try some 5.2 ph stabilizer on the next batch and see if that helps. :mug:
 

llazy_llama

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Replace the tap water with bottled spring water, and order your ingredients from one of the trusted online homebrew stores until you can find a better LHBS. I know it's sort of like fixing a car that won't start by swapping the battery, starter, alternator, and ignition at the same time, but it's the most effective way to ensure you next batch will be better.
 

HOOTER

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I'm doing a partial boil, and adding up to 5 gallons before fermenting.
So how many gallons is the finished product? You should never be adding 5 gallons of water unless your intentionally doing over 5 gallon batches. Please elaborate.

You can bet on one thing, location isn't the problem. The beer gods have smiled on Oregon so If you can't make good beer there you can't make it anywhere. ;)
 

SteveM

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I agree llama - it appears that the only variable that changed was the water - try using bottled spring water instead of tap water.
 

david_42

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Some of the water in Portland is a bit nasty. On the other hand, some of it is so pure that you'll need brewing salts. Both can change your process. Bring a few bottles to the next Oregon Brew Crew meeting and ask for input.
 
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flyhippy

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To clarify on all the above responses, which i appreciate the help! The temperatures here are definitely a bit lower, and it is fermenting at about 63 or 64 degrees, thanks to the unwillingness of the property manager to bump up the thermostat on the radiators! I am using tap water, but yes, it is in Portland, so the water surely isn't all bad. I will try using spring water for my IPA, which is up next. I did not mean "adding up to 5 gallons", I meant, adding water until the total volume was just shy of 5 gallons after the partial boil. As for ingredients, I ordered from Northern Brewer for both of these batches, but would think that they are a reliable source. My next batch i plan to get from FH steinbart, and also will take bottles from both beers in for a bit of analysis. I guess I could understand off flavors, or the recipe just not coming out quite right, but the stout was even a kit put together by N B, so you wouldn't think it would end up so ... watery? Thank god its happening in Portland, where theres a plethora of back up beer, and not in Florida
 

TXCrash

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I almost wonder if you were used to esters from higher fermentation temperatures...

Maybe try a water bath (cooler, rubbermaid) and fish tank heater (in the water bath, not fermenter!) to bump up the temperature to what you were used to in florida.
 

Jared311

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It seems like there could be multiple variables:

* Tap water
* Ambient temperature
* HBS - Bad mill could possibly lower your efficiency causing the watery flavor?

I am inexperienced, so these are just guesses.
 

HOOTER

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I did not mean "adding up to 5 gallons", I meant, adding water until the total volume was just shy of 5 gallons after the partial boil.
Ah yes, that does make more sense.

As for ingredients, I ordered from Northern Brewer for both of these batches, but would think that they are a reliable source.
Norther Brewer is a very reliable supplier with quality ingredients, but I have quit ordering their kits because I personally find many of them to be a bit boring and lacking the complexity I look for in a brew (I still purchase stuff from them, just not kits). I generally formulate my own recipes, which makes homebrewing that much more interesting, IMO.

There's gotta be at least one great LHBS in Portland that you could purchase ingredients from. Purchasing locally would be your best bet.
 

Ishraider

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Hey just wanted to put in my 2 cents. I live in Seaside, Oregon and hafta goto portland to get my brew supplies (cheaper than shipping and handling from online sites) and i goto F.H. Stienbarts because they are the best LHBS in portland from my experience. I doubt you have any real problems with the water from portland because its better than probably 60-70% of most other major cities as far as water quality and if it is a problem the guys at Stienbarts should definatly help you with that problem.
 

SteveM

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Just to be clear - I'm not suggesting that the water up that way is "bad." It's just going to be different than what the OP is used to, and this, more than anything else, is likely to cause his beer to taste differently.
 

ifishsum

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We do have great water here in Portland, so that shouldn't be the problem - that said I usually use bottled spring water because it's easier to pre-chill and aerate the gallon jugs. The point about ferm temp and yeast esters may be valid if you're used to those extra flavors you got at higher temps. Personally I love brewing in PDX this time of year because it's pretty easy to keep them fermenting in the lower 60s.

Many of the kit beers I did starting out seemed to lack the flavor and complexity I'm getting from the partial mash recipes I'm doing currently, but if you've been making the same kits all along then I got nothing else.

I get most of my supplies/ingredients from Let's Brew on SE Stark. I've been 100% satisfied with the freshness of their bulk ingredients, especially the fresh LME is very good and they've always had the grains I needed. Good folks.
 
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