Quantcast

Critique my process

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

MusicLife

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
91
Reaction score
27
Location
virginia beach
Anyone who likes to knit pick feel free to do so 😂

So far my reintroduction into homebrewing has had a couple bumps in the road. Learning as I'm going and very much still enjoying every second of it. But so far my batches, All grain, have been average at best. To me they taste like "beer". If you were blindfolded you'd prolly say " well yeah that's beer" but not much more. I am wondering how to improve that so ill post my process down below. In the beginning i attributed it to water issues, but now I'm not as sure.

I'm doing BIAB with a keggle. My recipes are good as they are the LHBS recipes and haven't found any flaws with em so it most likely is my brewing lol. So here is my brew day.

-Bring water(tap) to strike temp - 169 is what the recipes have called for, I use BIAB calculator to get the amount. Frist 2 batched i combined strike and spare water and it was WAY to much.
-Mash for 90 mins @ 155, Ive read thats better for BIAB. My grain is double milled at LHBS. I usually only lose a couple degrees.
-Bring to boil and follow follow hop schedule. throw copper chiller in last 1/4 to sanitize it.
-Usually chill to 75 in about 30 mins, my hose water is pretty cold this time of year.
-Pitch yeast. Been using liquid yeast and have recently realized, thanks to this site, that I am most likely underpitching so I've added the equipment to make starters.
-stick fermenter in a corner in my house, Room temp around 67-69.


From what I'm reading I'm thinking the issue may be the later half of the brew day, making a starter I'm sure will help. But I'm starting to wonder if maybe the room is to hot for fermentation? I know fermentation can add some temp to the wort. I have a garage but its unstable, due to weather, and when its 35 outside i wonder if id be on the other side of the spectrum.

Any feedback, advice, your doin it wrongs are welcome. I've not had to dump any beer yet but haven't been waiting to get home and hit the tap either 😅😂
 

Velnerj

Simul justus et potator
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
347
Reaction score
481
Location
Czech Republic
Here's my crack at it.

Do you treat your tap water? There is probably a lot going on there. At the very least you should be using campden tablets which will (instantly) get rid of the chlorine in the water. Chlorine usually leaves some off flavors in your beer.

If you cannot get a water profile from your city, you could try just adding a bit of gypsum 2-5grams for hoppier beers and a bit of Calcium Chloride for maltier beers. This is my approach, and I think many might cringe at this, but I have found that it helps the flavor of my beer.

You are definitely under pitching, either use a starter or if you are lazy like me use dry yeast packets - no starter are required for them.

You are also pitching too hot and fermenting too hot. You should pitch your yeast at slightly below fermentation temperature. For example many ales are fermented between 60 and 64 degrees. You should be pitching at below 60 to get in that range later. The active yeast can raise the temp of the beer by 5 or more degrees!

In order to get down and hold your fermentation temperature you will need either a fermentation chamber or a swamp cooler set up. Almost all homebrewers will claim that adding a fermentation chamber was the single greatest improvement they could do to their beers.

Look for a used mini fridge and buy an inkbird temperature controller and you will be in business and probably cost you less than $100
 

brewdude88

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
Messages
165
Reaction score
127
I think your first areas to look at should be fermentation temperature (your room temp is a bit warm for most clean ale yeast) and water chemistry.

Fermentation temp of course takes a little investment (small chest freezer + temp controller + space) so that depends on your situation. On a side note, you might try Kveik yeast, I have not used it, but hear it is extremely temperature tolerant.

As far as water chemistry, have you had a water analysis done? Does your water contain chlorine or chloramine? All these things can have a big impact on beer quality.

Finally, what specifically keeps your beer from being better than just beer? Is it flavor? Mouth feel? Aroma???
 

McKnuckle

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 10, 2014
Messages
3,231
Reaction score
2,656
Location
Anywhere But Here
All good points above - water quality, under-pitching, and fermentation on the potentially too warm side, if only by a modest amount.

I'll add a comment about conditioning and your expectations. Beer really needs 2-3 weeks of cold storage to be consumer-ready. You are the consumer! How quickly are you drinking and judging? Do you have examples that have sat cold for a few weeks, and do they still exhibit the same negative qualities?
 
OP
MusicLife

MusicLife

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
91
Reaction score
27
Location
virginia beach
Awesome thank you. The fermentation temp was the main thing i kinda thought that was the case but having confirmation is always nice haha.

Water chemistry isnt something i really considered. I kinda had the thought that it would make good beer but might prevent it from being amazing beer so was gonna cross that bridge a little later on.

so far the flavor has been off mostly. Havent noticed smell to be off. I pour it and think wow that looks like a good beer but i know you dont drink looks lol. mouth feel... someone might have to explain to me exactly what that is 😅.

they have been a little cloudy but that doesnt really bother me at this point. I have brewed irish reds and a brown ale.
 

dmtaylor

Lord Idiot the Lazy
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Messages
4,415
Reaction score
2,586
Location
Two Rivers, WI
I mostly agree with @Velnerj .

One thing I would add: he talks about a swamp cooler. You can set this up easily, but even easier than that, if you set your fermenter into a tub and add just a couple inches of water and a wet t-shirt over the top, you can reduce fermentation temperature by 3-5 degrees due to evaporation. This is very easy to do, and I do it a lot. Same concept as swamp, different technique, same effectiveness. Just an alternative.

But I don't even think fermentation temperature is killing your brew. Cooler is better, but I think you could possibly be suffering from.... poor recipe design. You say the recipes are good. But before you brew next time, post the recipe and let us comment on it. Homebrewers here LOVE to comment on recipes and the feedback you get is generally very good on this forum. Maybe there's something messed up in the recipe.

And as mentioned above, definitely treat your water with Campden to get rid of any chlorine. One tablet per 10 gallons of water, before it touches any malt. The effect is instant and important. If you ever get medicinal or "Band-aid" flavors in your beer, now you know why. And if you've been lucky enough not to, well great. But this is very cheap insurance. Unless you're on well water in which case, nevermind.
 
OP
MusicLife

MusicLife

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
91
Reaction score
27
Location
virginia beach
All good points above - water quality, under-pitching, and fermentation on the potentially too warm side, if only by a modest amount.

I'll add a comment about conditioning and your expectations. Beer really needs 2-3 weeks of cold storage to be consumer-ready. You are the consumer! How quickly are you drinking and judging? Do you have examples that have sat cold for a few weeks, and do they still exhibit the same negative qualities?
I have been setting the c02 at 10 psi in my keezer and letting em sit for at least a week. Most of them longer as I drink the first. My brown ale was better than my first irish red(this one had to much water) so the 2nd irish red sat for at least 2 weeks in the keezer, i tried it last night and it was better but still not good. lol
 
OP
MusicLife

MusicLife

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
91
Reaction score
27
Location
virginia beach
I mostly agree with @Velnerj .

One thing I would add: he talks about a swamp cooler. You can set this up easily, but even easier than that, if you set your fermenter into a tub and add just a couple inches of water and a wet t-shirt over the top, you can reduce fermentation temperature by 3-5 degrees due to evaporation. This is very easy to do, and I do it a lot. Same concept as swamp, different technique, same effectiveness. Just an alternative.

But I don't even think fermentation temperature is killing your brew. Cooler is better, but I think you could possibly be suffering from.... poor recipe design. You say the recipes are good. But before you brew next time, post the recipe and let us comment on it. Homebrewers here LOVE to comment on recipes and the feedback you get is generally very good on this forum. Maybe there's something messed up in the recipe.

And as mentioned above, definitely treat your water with Campden to get rid of any chlorine. One tablet per 10 gallons of water, before it touches any malt. The effect is instant and important. If you ever get medicinal or "Band-aid" flavors in your beer, now you know why. And if you've been lucky enough not to, well great. But this is very cheap insurance. Unless you're on well water in which case, nevermind.
ive compared them to some recipes posted around the site and they have been pretty close. I can post em here if your interested, only done 2 variations so far. I posted a porter, my last brew, and people said it looked good.
 

dmtaylor

Lord Idiot the Lazy
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Messages
4,415
Reaction score
2,586
Location
Two Rivers, WI
ive compared them to some recipes posted around the site and they have been pretty close. I can post em here if your interested, only done 2 variations so far. I posted a porter, my last brew, and people said it looked good.
Oh good. It was just a thought.

Another thought: Yeast strain matters. What yeast strains have you been using? Better choice of yeast will lead to better beer. And "better" is indeed a little subjective... but not a lot. :)
 

McKnuckle

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 10, 2014
Messages
3,231
Reaction score
2,656
Location
Anywhere But Here
Try 12 psi and two weeks to carbonate, three weeks to drink. Not that you can't steal a sample at any time. But it invariably makes a difference, and sometimes a profound, transformative difference.

Beer straight out of the fermenter, even sitting there for two weeks, is not ready to drink. Ignore the speedy "grain to glass" crowd on this one if you're truly looking for flavor potential. Also ignore the "quick carb" crowd. No offense intended to those choices; but to troubleshoot subpar flavor, those are practices to avoid.
 

dmtaylor

Lord Idiot the Lazy
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Messages
4,415
Reaction score
2,586
Location
Two Rivers, WI
I googled my cities water quality and this is what came up, not sure im smart enough to decipher it haha.
Oh no.... you've got chloramine. That stuff doesn't boil out. Campden is ESSENTIAL. See above.

That water report isn't super helpful other than that. Looks like your water is probably about "normal" which is good, but for other important specifics, it's lacking. If you want to keep brewing for the long haul, get your water tested by Ward Labs, OR join a club and ask a local if they get the water tested yet to share parameters with you.

But the most important thing is to add Campden. That chloramine will ruin your beer. Maybe not every time, but sometimes.
 

brewdude88

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
Messages
165
Reaction score
127
Start using campden as dmtaylor says. Your chloride, sulfate are in check and you could certainly use more of one or both depending on what you're brewing. Unfortunately, they don't give a calcium content, but considering TDS, it's on the lower side.

Takeaways, use campden and a little gypsum or calcium chloride or both depending on if you're beer is malty, hoppy or balanced.

Alternatively, what some people do (me included) is to either buy RO water from the store, or get an RO filter rig to essentially build our water from scratch. It's pretty easy with the available water calculators out there.
 

dmtaylor

Lord Idiot the Lazy
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Messages
4,415
Reaction score
2,586
Location
Two Rivers, WI
Alternatively, what some people do (me included) is to either buy RO water from the store, or get an RO filter rig to essentially build our water from scratch. It's pretty easy with the available water calculators out there.
Yes, I do this a lot too. Maybe 1/4 of the time, when I want to absolutely guarantee zero chance of chlorine messing up my brew like when brewing for competitions, I'll buy my water just to be safe. Or for certain beer styles where soft water is desirable, I buy it then too because my water here is pretty hard and alkaline.

I hate to dump too much information on all at once, as water is a complex topic. I still think you can make great beer if you treat tap water with Campden. But it's never wrong to buy water or get an RO system and then you know you're safe from the effects of chlorine, which are nasty.
 
OP
MusicLife

MusicLife

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
91
Reaction score
27
Location
virginia beach
I appreciate all the feedback for sure. I will add water treatment to my "must do" list along with starter and temp control.
 
OP
MusicLife

MusicLife

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
91
Reaction score
27
Location
virginia beach
Also what temp controllers would you all recommend? I currently have an itc1000 in my keezer but i like the idea of the inkbird models that just need to be plugged in.

but with so many different models im not sure what the differences are. like the 306 vs 308 vs the others.
 

Velnerj

Simul justus et potator
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
347
Reaction score
481
Location
Czech Republic
Also what temp controllers would you all recommend? I currently have an itc1000 in my keezer but i like the idea of the inkbird models that just need to be plugged in.

but with so many different models im not sure what the differences are. like the 306 vs 308 vs the others.
I have the 308 (non-wifi) and I am totally satisfied. Costs about $35, but if you're not in a hurry they sometimes go on sale and even Inkbird runs deals here on HBT. Additionally you may be able to find it cheaper on aliexpress. All in all it's still worth the price at $35.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2017
Messages
2,125
Reaction score
1,220
... try just adding a bit of gypsum 2-5grams for hoppier beers and a bit of Calcium Chloride for maltier beers. This is my approach, and I think many might cringe at this, but I have found that it helps the flavor of my beer.
Nothing to cringe about - there are a couple of valid approaches to "water chemistry" with varying degrees of "complexity".

RO/distilled water simplifies "water chemistry". Thinking of water during the brew day steps - "initial quality", "mash adjustments", and "kettle additions for flavor" - can also help manage the "complexity".

There's also an idea of adding CaCl & CaS04 in the glass with the intent of adjusting the recipe on the next attempt. Occasionally people (including me) talk about doing this. But no one (including me) seems to have written a detailed process description - and at the moment, I'm not willing to "go first" on this topic.
 
OP
MusicLife

MusicLife

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
91
Reaction score
27
Location
virginia beach
So people using a fridge for a ferm chamber. Do you need a heat source? I see some other posts about using a reptile lamp. But I wonder why not just let it kick on and off as needed for cooling? I dont see the point in adding heat to just have it cooled off again?
 

McKnuckle

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 10, 2014
Messages
3,231
Reaction score
2,656
Location
Anywhere But Here
You only need a heat source if your fridge or freezer is in an ambient space that can get colder than the desired temperature setting.

For example, my keezer is set to 42F and is in my garage, which stays about 40-50F in the winter. But if we have an extended deep freeze, the garage drops into the 30s, and the keezer can't cool to 42 because that's warmer than the air outside it. So for those brief periods, I put a small electric heating fan in there, plugged into the warm side of an Inkbird controller.

I found this out once when I froze a keg - whoops.

A fermentation chamber, being insulated and passive, is different. I also have one of those in my garage for use during the winter. In there I use a seed mat duct taped to the wall of the chamber. I do lagers in there over the winter, heating to 50F while the garage is colder.
 
OP
MusicLife

MusicLife

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
91
Reaction score
27
Location
virginia beach
You only need a heat source if your fridge or freezer is in an ambient space that can get colder than the desired temperature setting.

For example, my keezer is set to 42F and is in my garage, which stays about 40-50F in the winter. But if we have an extended deep freeze, the garage drops into the 30s, and the keezer can't cool to 42 because that's warmer than the air outside it. So for those brief periods, I put a small electric heating fan in there, plugged into the warm side of an Inkbird controller.

I found this out once when I froze a keg - whoops.

A fermentation chamber, being insulated and passive, is different. I also have one of those in my garage for use during the winter. In there I use a seed mat duct taped to the wall of the chamber. I do lagers in there over the winter, heating to 50F while the garage is colder.
Gotcha that makes perfect sense haha

I live in VA so under 40degrees isnt always typical but very possible. But i do have a smallish electric heater i can throw in there.

I cant find a cheap fridge tho haha
 

NewJersey

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
1,195
Reaction score
453
Location
Boonton
Gotcha that makes perfect sense haha

I live in VA so under 40degrees isnt always typical but very possible. But i do have a smallish electric heater i can throw in there.

I cant find a cheap fridge tho haha
Keep looking. I paid $150 for a nice used chest freezer a long time ago. My brother broke that one for me- don't ask.
Bought another for $100 that got taken over by having a family and needing it for food.
Found yet another this time a stand up freezer that is the perfect size and was super clean for $100.
I found 2 out of 3 of mine on Craigslist and 1.kn fb
Where do you live?
 
OP
MusicLife

MusicLife

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
91
Reaction score
27
Location
virginia beach
Keep looking. I paid $150 for a nice used chest freezer a long time ago. My brother broke that one for me- don't ask.
Bought another for $100 that got taken over by having a family and needing it for food.
Found yet another this time a stand up freezer that is the perfect size and was super clean for $100.
I found 2 out of 3 of mine on Craigslist and 1.kn fb
Where do you live?
Va beach, va

I couldnt find anything under 150 that was remotely clean lookin.

Only mini fridges are under 100 and i am worried a 6.5 carboy wont fit.
 

jerrylotto

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
122
Reaction score
61
Location
North Chelmsford
Didn't really see recipe specifics but if you are brewing hoppy beers (especially if you are dry hopping) oxygen exclusion is key post active fermentation. The biggest improvement I have had with my IPAs has resulted from closed loop transfers and obesssive carbon dioxide purging of fermenter, lines and kegs after active fermentation is over.
 

50calshooter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2013
Messages
124
Reaction score
89
1) May be it's not your beer. May be it's your taste buds or your pallet.
2) If your water tastes good your beer will taste good.
3) Just keep brewing.
 

McKnuckle

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 10, 2014
Messages
3,231
Reaction score
2,656
Location
Anywhere But Here
2) If your water tastes good your beer will taste good.
I see this posted all the time, so I'm not picking on you, but it's just not necessarily true.

There are various aspects of water that don't manifest as flavor in the drinking glass, but which nevertheless ruin beer. I am a poster child for this, as I have well water that's entirely unusable for brewing. It tastes okay, especially if you have middle-aged taste buds. And we soften it, and that tastes a bit better.

However, neither of these waters work for pale ales and lagers. The softened water has way too much sodium and chloride, and the straight well water is off the charts hard, with alkalinity in the 300 range. The mash pH is not manageable and it can create nasty, bitter flavors with some grists. I know this because it was one of my early challenges figuring out why my beer sucked.

If your water tastes good AND it happens to make good beer, then the beer will taste good. But that's just not a universal truth.
 

50calshooter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2013
Messages
124
Reaction score
89
I see this posted all the time, so I'm not picking on you, but it's just not necessarily true.

There are various aspects of water that don't manifest as flavor in the drinking glass, but which nevertheless ruin beer. I am a poster child for this, as I have well water that's entirely unusable for brewing. It tastes okay, especially if you have middle-aged taste buds. And we soften it, and that tastes a bit better.

However, neither of these waters work for pale ales and lagers. The softened water has way too much sodium and chloride, and the straight well water is off the charts hard, with alkalinity in the 300 range. The mash pH is not manageable and it can create nasty, bitter flavors with some grists. I know this because it was one of my early challenges figuring out why my beer sucked.

If your water tastes good AND it happens to make good beer, then the beer will taste good. But that's just not a universal truth.
You sure your water tastes good... or are you just use to it?
 

eric19312

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 5, 2012
Messages
3,369
Reaction score
1,805
Location
Long Island
Oh no.... you've got chloramine. That stuff doesn't boil out. Campden is ESSENTIAL. See above.

That water report isn't super helpful other than that. Looks like your water is probably about "normal" which is good, but for other important specifics, it's lacking. If you want to keep brewing for the long haul, get your water tested by Ward Labs, OR join a club and ask a local if they get the water tested yet to share parameters with you.

But the most important thing is to add Campden. That chloramine will ruin your beer. Maybe not every time, but sometimes.
Your water report is not that bad.

It shows you have chloramine that you need to eliminate...easy to do. I do think getting rid of the chloramine could be answer on how you get your beer from meh to at least pretty good if not all the way to good because of what else your report says.

Your water report also shows averages and ranges for sodium, sulfate, chloride which all seem moderate and TDS is also low. It is moderate water and learning the true value of the missing numbers isn't going to lead to some huge revelation.

Fix that chloramine and work on fermentation issues (pitching enough viable yeast and keeping temperatures under some sort of control) and I bet you will see noticeable improvement in the quality of your beer.
 
OP
MusicLife

MusicLife

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2012
Messages
91
Reaction score
27
Location
virginia beach
So for the people using starters. Does this look like enough yeast? I know that's prolly a difficult question to answer but figured I'd ask lol. Its 1 pack liquid yeast, white labs. Going into my brown ale. Target 1060 og.

I had it on stir plate for about a day and a half and just stuck it in the fridge.
 

Attachments

Top