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Airborneguy

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I'm not trying to be pretentious here, so please don't take it that way.

Did I pick up Brewing Classic Styles too late in the game? Personally, I'm looking at some of these recipes and I can't imagine how he is winning competitions with them.

I've had the book for awhile, but didn't really start looking at it until about 6 months ago when I started brewing lagers regularly. I brewed one of his, the Vienna, and I don't think it came out even close to the style. After doing further research, my next planned iteration is so far from the one in the book that I have to scratch my head.

Im not knocking Jamil, he obviously makes good beer, but I can't seem to get on his bandwagon. He recommends adding caramel malts to replace decoction and seems to think decoction is pointless. I can't imagine a BJCP certified judge preferring a lager with caramel malts over one that was decocted. The flavors are not even close!

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Hammy71

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I dunno. I've been happy with every recipe I've brewed from the book. The west coast blaster is fabulous if you let it condition for a couple of months. I use the book for what it is...a book of basic recipes and nothing more. Use them as a base and build off of them. But have to agree that decoction is one of those things you sometimes need to do for a lager or hefe...
 

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I have 7 extract kits under my belt and decided to use the book as a starting point for learning to design my own recipes. My first all grain biab batch is in the primary right now (Amrican Amber). I figure brewing several of these recipes will help me learn how the ingredients work together and will provide a solid foundation for developing my own personal brewing style.
 

McCheese352

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I guess if you are looking for proven award winning recipes to brew, then BCS would be a pretty good start. As for the recipe formulations, its pretty tough to argue when Jamil is one the most award winning homebrewers ever. I have the book and have brewed a number of the beers in it and been pretty satisified with the results. One thing brewing recipes like those from BCS has taught me, is if something doesn't come out quite right, is to take a closer look at my process and ingredients. I find it hard to blame the recipe itself for lacklustre results. Brewing a really good APA is the bane of my existence and I have brewed the BCS APA w/caramel a number of times. The first time wasn't too great but a couple interations later with some tweaks to my process and change in malt suppliers its getting to be pretty ok. If you're not interested in someone elses recipes, i'd suggest Ray Daniels Designing Great Beers.
 

johnnyc

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I've made several of the recipes in the book and have been very happy with almost all of them. I concur the West Coast Blaster is amazing and the Janet's Brown is great too. I use his recipes as a starting place when I try styles I've never brewed before.
 

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As to decoction mashing, few were as enamored with the process as the late, great Greg Noonan (New Brewing Lager Beer). Even HE granted that the process is unlikely to yield any real benefit given today's highly modified malts. In fact, he suggested, the process may well do more harm than good by excess reduction of proteins.
 

brettwasbtd

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A lot has to do with your system. Jamil very clearly states to adapt the recipes to your system. I forget which episode of the Jamil Show, but I think it was the Dortmunder show - Jamil and Tasty are commenting on how they each use a different yeast and grain bill, yet the final beer comes out to be remarkably similiar.

I have to adjust all the recipes for efficiency, boil offs, and hops (change to rager). When I do this I enjoy the beers. And then I tweak as desired.
 
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Airborneguy

Airborneguy

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One thing brewing recipes like those from BCS has taught me, is if something doesn't come out quite right, is to take a closer look at my process and ingredients. I find it hard to blame the recipe itself for lacklustre results.
I'd probably agree with you in regards to most of the ale recipes in there, but I completely disagree when it comes to the lagers. Jamil's lager recipes tend to be much different than the traditional recipes as they have been brewed for centuries. If I made a pale ale recipe and it didn't come out right, I'd blame myself, but take a look at his vienna lager recipe. It's very different from most you will find from other sources. I can't blame myself for that one, no matter how many medals he has.

A lot has to do with your system.
This might be the case. I adjusted for efficiency, but not much else. Without being able to compare to the same recipe brewed by Jamil himself, the only changes one can make are to suit it to their own taste, which is my case, seems to lead to the recipe no longer looking like it came from that book.
 

terrapinj

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is this the recipe in the book? it's all over the web which is where i pulled it from

3.4 lbs Pils
3 lbs Munich
5 lbs Vienna
2oz Carafa Special II

Hallertau 4%AA

60 min - 1.5oz
10 min - .5oz

aside from the late hops which aren't historically accurate what is the issue?
 

Spartan1979

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I think that Jamil's recipes were tweaked toward what judges wanted rather than what a style of beer calls for. Many out-of-style beers win competitions including NHC. It's one of the reasons I stopped entering competitions, except to support my local club.
 
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Airborneguy

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is this the recipe in the book? it's all over the web which is where i pulled it from

3.4 lbs Pils
3 lbs Munich
5 lbs Vienna
2oz Carafa Special II

Hallertau 4%AA

60 min - 1.5oz
10 min - .5oz

aside from the late hops which aren't historically accurate what is the issue?
The reason you see that recipe all over the internet is because of BCS and Jamil. I'm not saying you're not going to produce "a" vienna lager with that recipe, but with a little research, I'm finding that it doesn't seem to be a typical example. Traditionally, a Vienna Lager was either 100%, or very close to it, Vienna malt. A little pilsner is understandable, but I'm still trying to figure out why the Munich considering the two malts are from brewing cities a few hundred miles apart.

As Spartan said, a lot of competitions are still suspect at this stage, so what do medals really mean? Exactly what competitions are all these recipes winning? Personally, the medals mean about as much to me as Pabst's Blue Ribbon does (if you know the story behind the name, you know what I mean).

I'm just starting to think that a lot of what Jamil says gets taken as gospel when maybe it shouldn't be. I'm not knocking him personally, he does a ton more for this hobby than I ever will, but I feel like he may have jumped the gun on a few of those recipes after "winning" a group of highly subjective competitions.
 

GilaMinumBeer

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After reading the WIDE variation of winning formulation for a given style from Designing Great Beers i gained a greater appreciation for Brewers Ingenuity and a lesser appreciation for BJCP's ability to discern style accuracy without a recipe reference.
 

terrapinj

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according to Ray Daniels there was little difference between a Vienna Lager and an Oktoberfest aside from gravity and bitterness - so it wasn't uncommon for Munich malts to be included - however the crystal malt def would be out of traditional character although it was fairly common in many of the beers that placed when he wrote his book

the hop schedule was also not historically accurate as I believe Daniels said it was one addition at start of boil and another 1/2 addition half way through the boil

if you used just Vienna malt you would never hit the SRM #s for BJCP (although their historical accuracy is questionable as well)
 

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I read Brewing Classic Styles recently after attempting to create my own recipes. I thought it would be a great reference to eventually put together some great recipes possibly win some awards. It's a good book if you want to know a little about the BJCP styles, and see a generic example of the style.

Then I read Designing Great Beers, said f*** the BJCP styles, and made recipes the way I wanted that taste great. Best decision I've made since buying my first equipment kit.
 

wonderbread23

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JZ's vienna does well in competition. I did a variation of it and entered it into 3 (large) competitions this past summer. The results... three medals including one best of show placement.
 

wonderbread23

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What were the variations?
BCS = 30% Pils, 26% Munich, 44% Vienna
My Recipe = 17% Pils, 35% Munich, 44% Vienna, 4% Carapils

1st Evergreen State Fair
1st Best of the Bay, Also 2nd Best of Show
2nd Skagit County Fair
3rd Novembeerfest

It placed in all 4 competitions it has been entered in.
 
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Airborneguy

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I like the lower amount of pils. I made the recipe straight out of the book and it didn't have a rich enough flavor.

I'm going 100% vienna next time. With a double or triple decoction, I believe I will hit the color.
 

McCheese352

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I'm just starting to think that a lot of what Jamil says gets taken as gospel when maybe it shouldn't be. I'm not knocking him personally, he does a ton more for this hobby than I ever will, but I feel like he may have jumped the gun on a few of those recipes after "winning" a group of highly subjective competitions.
And you're basing this on a recipe for a Vienna Lager, that you feel is not as historically accurate as it should be?
The title of the book is "Brewing Classic Styles - 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew" not "Brewing Classic Styles - 80 Definitive, Historically Accurate Recipes"
And if you're beer isn't being judged in a subjective manner, how do you suggest it be judged? IMO the quality of final product is more important than whether a high percentage of Vienna and a decoction is used.
 
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+1 for it being a matter of adjusting the recipes to your brewhouse. i've brewed several beers from that book, but made sure to adjust accordingly to MY process. i haven't been displeased with one yet.

recipes make books, brewers make beer.
 

WortMonger

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I read Brewing Classic Styles recently after attempting to create my own recipes. I thought it would be a great reference to eventually put together some great recipes possibly win some awards. It's a good book if you want to know a little about the BJCP styles, and see a generic example of the style.

Then I read Designing Great Beers, said f*** the BJCP styles, and made recipes the way I wanted that taste great. Best decision I've made since buying my first equipment kit.
That is a great way to explain exactly how I feel about the two books and how I have come to use recipes. I always tweak the "base" recipe from BCS based on what I read about other recipes. i lean more towards Jamil than others, but I do make the subtle changes I feel will make a beer I like to drink better.
I like the lower amount of pils. I made the recipe straight out of the book and it didn't have a rich enough flavor.

I'm going 100% vienna next time. With a double or triple decoction, I believe I will hit the color.
I am a big fan of decoction. Apart from the fact it is arguable if it makes a difference or not, I think it does. It also makes you more a part of the recipe and the beer you are brewing. I have enjoyed every decocted beer vs. the same recipe without. It adds something you can't fake IMHO. I love my house APA, triple decocted and velvety smooth sweetness backed by big hops. Talk about "not to style" just on the brewing method, but a BJCP will just taste the smoother sweetness and would have no idea I used a decoction, much less three. Do I give a crap... Nah!!!:)
IMO the quality of final product is more important than whether a high percentage of Vienna and a decoction is used.
Exactly! Try things and if they work to the advantage of the beer, you know they worked. If you can make a "true to style in taste" vienna in a judges mind using any method you want, then in the end... who cares how you did it. Point is, you did it "your way!":rockin:
 
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Airborneguy

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And you're basing this on a recipe for a Vienna Lager, that you feel is not as historically accurate as it should be?
I've been leaning on the vienna as an example, but I did stress that my opinion is based on the lagers as a whole and using various malts to "re-create" the decoction effects.

The title of the book is "Brewing Classic Styles - 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew" not "Brewing Classic Styles - 80 Definitive, Historically Accurate Recipes"
I didn't say it should be. I've merely formed an opinion from what I've seen that some of the recipes are formulated to win highly suspect, highly subjective competitions, not to be true to the styles as they have been historically brewed. What is the point of having a "style" unless it is actually based on something specific?

And if you're beer isn't being judged in a subjective manner, how do you suggest it be judged?
I don't recall mentioning my beers and competitions at all. I have mentioned my opinion that BJCP competitions as a whole do not necessarily bestow medals on recipes that are indicative of the supposed styles, if some of the recipes in this book are taken as an example.

IMO the quality of final product is more important than whether a high percentage of Vienna and a decoction is used.
Of course the final product is what matters, which is exactly why in my opinion, the final product of Jamil's recipe is not a traditional Vienna Lager. I just made a pale ale with 4lbs of munich. Obviously I'm not beyond messing with style guidelines, but I wouldn't go putting that recipe in a book saying that it is to style.
 

WortMonger

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Airborneguy said:
Of course the final product is what matters, which is exactly why in my opinion, the final product of Jamil's recipe is not a traditional Vienna Lager. I just made a pale ale with 4lbs of munich. Obviously I'm not beyond messing with style guidelines, but I wouldn't go putting that recipe in a book saying that it is to style.
I see your point on the book from this prospective and agree with you on that point. Still, I think the recipes are sound for making good beers, and that people should try them and grow from there if they are not experienced designing their own. On another note, 4lbs of munich in a pale ale??? Are you a crazy person? That can't possibly make a good pale ale ;).
 

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I cannot believe there is even an argument as to whether decoction makes a difference. You get a distinct "umami" in the mouthfeel that isn't present in beers that are not decocted. People say you can substitute aromatic or melanoiden malts, but beers that do that are missing the mouthfeel.
 

WortMonger

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Airborneguy, This is the 6 gallon triple decocted house pale ale I love: 10# pale ale, .75# crystal 40*L, .5# munich.

Dough in @ 122*F and then pull the first of the triple decoction, decoct for rests at 145*F for 30 min, 155*F for 30 min, then a liquid only decoction brought to a boil and added to mash out temps before sparging of your choice.

45 IBUs from: .4oz Nugget 13%AA @ FWH, 1.6oz Columbus 13%AA @ 0 min, .8oz Summit 18%AA @ 0 min. Whirlpool rest of 30 minutes before cooling.

Safale US-05 or any clean yeast fermented @ 62*F for 3 days then 68*F for the rest of the primary.

I pressure cook my first two decoctions, letting the first one come to sacch temps before boiling. The other ones I really couldn't care less about since they probably already are converted. The last liquid only decoction I do in my kettle. This gives me the smoothest, maltiest, sweetest beer I have ever made with the hops to back it up very nicely.
 

McCheese352

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I don't recall mentioning my beers and competitions at all. I have mentioned my opinion that BJCP competitions as a whole do not necessarily bestow medals on recipes that are indicative of the supposed styles, if some of the recipes in this book are taken as an example.

Of course the final product is what matters, which is exactly why in my opinion, the final product of Jamil's recipe is not a traditional Vienna Lager. I just made a pale ale with 4lbs of munich. Obviously I'm not beyond messing with style guidelines, but I wouldn't go putting that recipe in a book saying that it is to style.
By this, I feel like you are implying that because a recipe may not use traditional ingredients and or a traditional process, that it can't be a good example of a classic style. This ignores what i think is more important; the overall impression of the beer, regardless of how it was created.
 
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Airborneguy

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By this, I feel like you are implying that because a recipe may not use traditional ingredients and or a traditional process, that it can't be a good example of a classic style. This ignores what i think is more important; the overall impression of the beer, regardless of how it was created.
That is what I'm saying, 100%. And I don't mean a "good" example, I mean any example at all.

What is the use of a "style" if it isn't a standard? In this case, the words are interchangeable by my understanding. I enjoy any beer for what it is, but call it what it is. If styles are to mean anything, you can't mess with them too much without being out of style. In the case of traditional, historic beers, I feel the leeway is narrowed even more. Does Dogfish Head call Midas Touch a pale ale? Does New Belgium call Fat Tire by any style? I'm not calling these beers bad, that's the part you are misunderstanding. I'm just saying they they aren't what the name says they are.

Think about it. If I boiled lasagna pasta and tossed it with some gravy, could I reasonably call it spaghetti? Point being, one can only go so far before they are making something different.
 
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Airborneguy

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I cannot believe there is even an argument as to whether decoction makes a difference. You get a distinct "umami" in the mouthfeel that isn't present in beers that are not decocted. People say you can substitute aromatic or melanoiden malts, but beers that do that are missing the mouthfeel.
The first time I did a decoction, the difference was easily apparent. That's why guys like Jamil confuse me when they say it isn't necessary. Doesn't he say Dopplebock is his favorite style? I distinctly remember hearing that in a podcast. How can he call that his favorite style but not see decoction as necessary?

I definitely believe that anyone who sees it as unnecessary has never done one.
 

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I think you will be very happy with the results. I'm even thinking that with no crystal, but maybe some biscuit or victory, and a wort caramelizing step with your first runnings it would be great. That is going to be my next experiment with this house recipe. Hell, I might even try just pale ale malt for a very simplistic ingredient beer, but with all that extra process for flavors.
 

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That is what I'm saying, 100%. And I don't mean a "good" example, I mean any example at all.

What is the use of a "style" if it isn't a standard? In this case, the words are interchangeable by my understanding. I enjoy any beer for what it is, but call it what it is. If styles are to mean anything, you can't mess with them too much without being out of style. In the case of traditional, historic beers, I feel the leeway is narrowed even more. Does Dogfish Head call Midas Touch a pale ale? Does New Belgium call Fat Tire by any style? I'm not calling these beers bad, that's the part you are misunderstanding. I'm just saying they they aren't what the name says they are.

Think about it. If I boiled lasagna pasta and tossed it with some gravy, could I reasonably call it spaghetti? Point being, one can only go so far before they are making something different.
I don't think I'm misunderstanding you, rather I'm disagreeing with you. And I'm ok with that.
 
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Airborneguy

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No problem, at least we can discuss now knowing what the other is thinking.

:mug:

I was pretty sure when I posted this that knocking such a popular book was not going to be, well, popular.

Let me ask you this: How far can one go before the beer is out of style?
 

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I heard an interesting interview with Denny Conn on the brewing network where he did a test with a number of tasters and various beer styles, where he had people brew the exact same recipes with and without decoction. The tasters consisted of homebrewers, BJCP judges, and commercial brewers.

Results:
Which is maltier:
Decocted - 20, Non-Decocted, 16
More body:
Decocted - 17, Non-Decocted - 22
Which one do you think was the decocted beer?
Decocted - 16, Non-Decocted 18
Which did you prefer?
Decoted - 20, Non-Decocted 17

The numbers don't add up because there was also a "no preference" option, apparently.

So anyways, I have never decocted, and who knows if I ever will, although I'll probably give it a crack just cuz i can. But the results above make me question how huge of a difference it makes, particularly given that the non-decocted beer won the "which is decocted" vote. :p I am not trying to downplay anyone's perceptions that there's an unistakable difference between decoction and non-decoction... but I am certainly curious as to how much the preconception that "well its decocted, so of course it will taste different" plays into the perception that "this tastes different!"

Oh, and in regards to the statement that anyone that doesn't see a difference hasn't done one, Jamil was one of the brewers in the study above, so he has definitely done decoction, and doesn't see the difference. Not that what Jamil thinks has to matter to anyone, just to say that people do exist who have done it and said it didn't make a difference.

Anyways, I encourage everyone to do whatever they want with their beer.
 

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No problem, at least we can discuss now knowing what the other is thinking.

:mug:

I was pretty sure when I posted this that knocking such a popular book was not going to be, well, popular.

Let me ask you this: How far can one go before the beer is out of style?
I think out of style is out of style. If a beer doesn't reasonably fit within SRM/IBU/ABV etc its out of style. Taking Dopplebock as an example, BJCP has Paulaner Salvator as the first commercial example that exemplifies the style. So what would an "accurate" recipe for a dopplebock be? Lets say Pils/Vienna/Munich and a triple decoction creates a beautiful example of a dopplebock and closely mimics the characteristics found in Salvator (I dont actually know off the top of my head). But if instead I use some combination of 2-Row/Crystal/Melanoidin and a single infusion mash, but can just as closely mimic the profile of Salvator, in my opinion that's within style.

Having said that there's some parts of the equation that probably aren't as open to artistic license. Take the same example above and add a huge late addition of a C-hop and its probably going to fall out of style. Sub out a clean German lager yeast for a Belgian ale yeast, again, probably going to fall out of style because it doesn't fall within the profile of the style -flavours/smells/SRM/IBU etc.
 
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Airborneguy

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I see your point. Maybe I just placed too much emphasis on the "authority" that Jamil wields with his books, and considered someone who might read those recipes and take them as the "right" way to brew a particular style.

BTW, my point wasn't so much to argue decoction as a method. I mentioned it to highlight the reason I believe subbing certain malts to replace it will leave the beer lacking.
 

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It seems to me that if you can create a beer that meets the bjcp style guidelines for Aroma, Appearance, flavor, mouth feel and overall impression then, it should score well in competition regardless of what ingredients/process you use to create the beer.

Once it's in the glass, the judges have no idea weather you decocted or used some specialty malts to achieve a similar flavor.

In JZ's defense, I have a friend with a wall full of ribbons and medals from competitions. He told me that most of the beers that won came straight out of Brewing Classic Styles.
 

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Brewstrong did a decoction interview with Denny. Date was 6/29/09. I'm listening right now to see if that is the one.

Edit: Yep, that's the one!
 
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