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Homebrew grain bill vs Pro grain bill

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Lacasse93

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So I have been thinking about this a lot lately and really just want to see how other people think/approach it. When I design recipes for beers, I typically pick certain flavors I want to hit and then match it to a style I think would work. Once and awhile I will flip this if I am really in a mood for a specific style. I pick my grains to mimic flavors I want to see in the beer, often times having 5 or more different grains in a recipe each there to either add a flavor or body/head stability. When I look at pro brewers and what their grain bills are, its usually AT MOST 4 grains (unless its some big barleywine or imperial stout). I have tried over and over to nail a NEIPA I like and that thing is loaded with various grains and then a local brewery will put one out and the can says "2-row, oats, dextrine" or something like that and its lightyears better than mine. I just do not get it.

Now I understand logistics of it. It does not make sense for a commercial brewer to have a ton of different grains around to use only a little bit at a time where us homebrewers do have that luxury(?). So what am I missing? Am I over complicating things? I know one of my big problems is being unable to control fermentation temp but I have gotten better at only brewing certain styles and certain season and rarely miss my desired temps by more than a couple degrees (Fahrenheit). I am really trying to nail down technique and I am consistently hitting numbers and often produce beers I like a lot but this grain bill thing has got me second guessing. Any feedback would be appreciated thanks!
 

DBhomebrew

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Fermentation temp control could very well be your hurdle, but maybe you are using too many grains. Too many colors of paint just makes a muddy brown.

This past week I've been reading the "Averagely Perfect" threads over at the BeerAdvocate forum. Very interesting to see the different theories people have in creating recipes.

Here's the NEIPA summary.

 
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Lacasse93

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I just started going through it and it is definitely interesting. I am pretty confident in my ability to make great beer besides IPAs. I live in New England and there are so many great examples around that the standard is really high. The NEIPA style is what had me thinking about this because (like I said), I don't get how they develop so much flavor with so few ingredients. Is there any chance its quality of malt selection? I typically have access to Rahr 2-row. Maybe a more "craft" or terroir driven malt could be at play?
 

kevin58

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Commercial brewers keep a keen eye on costs. Keeping a lot of specialty grains in storage that are used only for one or two of their products is costly. You are partly correct in assuming commercial brewers have better access to ingredients. But being able to brew well is why many are doing it commercially has a lot to do with it too.
 

Sammy86

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Have to remember also commercial breweries are many times using their own yeasts as well...they aren't playing around with US-05 or London Ale III. They have their own proprietary yeasts, and know how to use them.

One other thing that comes to mind is water chemistry. These guys have their profiles down and know what adjustments to make if any at all.
 

bracconiere

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hmm, when you say different grains, do you mean different grains? because it's easier to cook with a single flavor. just roasted/toasted/malted diferently.....it's easy to tie it together....
 
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Lacasse93

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The yeast point is an interesting one and definitely annoying to deal with. Any clones you see always (and obviously) have yeast which is accessible to us. I have only toyed around with pitching dregs of commercial breweries sour beer. Maybe propping up some yeast from commercial breweries to see if that makes a difference?
 

McKnuckle

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I think of it like ice cream. Some people want chips, nuts, swirls, fudge, crunchy bits, and other random stuff in their ice cream. Never mind that there's a vanilla or chocolate base, which gets overshadowed - you can barely taste it sometimes.

In contrast, take a really amazing pure vanilla or chocolate ice cream, and it's heaven.

Same thing for grains. A 100% pilsner brewed with extreme care and served super fresh is awesome. Of course you can add a couple/few more things, but there's a limit before flavors get muddled, unless you discover a really special combination that is more than the sum of its parts.

Key to this is great selection and care of your ingredients. That same pilsner handled roughly can be bland, dull, or oxidized. Multiple specialty grains can mask that, which for some brewers may be appealing.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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"Can You Brew It is dedicated to homebrew cloning your favorite commercial beers ..."

The podcast ended in 2012, but when I was looking into clone recipes, I found various episodes had helpful tips/techniques. If I was interested in a speicific amber ale, I'd listen to episodes on similar ambers, ...
 

bwible

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When I look at pro brewers and what their grain bills are, its usually AT MOST 4 grains (unless its some big barleywine or imperial stout). I have tried over and over to nail a NEIPA I like and that thing is loaded with various grains and then a local brewery will put one out and the can says "2-row, oats, dextrine" or something like that and its lightyears better than mine. I just do not get it.
Pro breweries and big breweries also might not be listing everything they use. I don’t think there is any legal requirement that they have to tell you every type of grain and every type of hops in their recipe and what yeast they use.

That said, many breweries are open with their information while some others not so much. I think they would be less likely to give you all the information about their best beers or anything that is selling very well and is hugely popular. Why would they sabotage themselves?
 

Dancy

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That said, many breweries are open with their information while some others not so much. I think they would be less likely to give you all the information about their best beers or anything that is selling very well and is hugely popular. Why would they sabotage themselves?
My question may be very naive but are there really SO many home brewers that a commercial brewery is sabotaging themselves by giving out their grain bill? I brew 5G batches pretty much for myself and I’m not in a club so I really don’t know. Also, I’d imagine home brewers (especially those brewing 10-20G) aren’t the best customers anyway. Thoughts?
 

alan sabatke

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My question may be very naive but are there really SO many home brewers that a commercial brewery is sabotaging themselves by giving out their grain bill? I brew 5G batches pretty much for myself and I’m not in a club so I really don’t know. Also, I’d imagine home brewers (especially those brewing 10-20G) aren’t the best customers anyway. Thoughts?
Most of my batches are 10 to 15 gals, still learning the new sys, hopefully be happy with it soon! I go out of my way to hit every micro brew I can. Some brewers are very helpful in discussing the brews, often will share yeast, but I have yet to have a brewer share recipes with me, dont even ask anymore. I am lucky to have a good micro brew 3 miles away, Im in there often! 4 taps in my basement for when Im home!
 

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