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Craftyape007

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...Until you were good at making beer? How many batches did you wreck before you made something drinkable. Or worth showing friends? How many brews until a person gets good at it?
 

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I thought my 5th batch, 2nd all grain was really good. By 10 I was really humming. I dumped batch 6 because I developed my own stout recipe and thought I was an expert. A full pound of black patent in a 5 gallon batch.
 

Knightshade

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Loaded question dude. So many variables. Depends on how much effort you put into it, how consistent you are w/your process, how much help you have/don't have getting started, having immediate peers to lean on.

How beer snobbish friends are, what you consider wrecked/drinkable and so on...and so forth.

I've only been brewing for about a year, and I've gotten mixed results. I've shared with a couple family members, friends, etc., and I've gotten very positive feedback and I'm assuming it wasn't just lip service based on repeat pours, requests and so forth. I still have SOOOO much room to grow, and I know that there are others on this forum that haven't been brewing as long that seem like they're knocking it out of the park. What are they doing right, what am I doing wrong..? I don't know..keep on learning I guess...

I've got a pale ale that I just is mature enough to drink as of about a week ago....and it isn't great. If a friend happens to come over, I'll invite them to take a pour. My wife really likes it, but I think she is heavily biased. I doubt I'll end up asking my old boss that has been brewing for 40+years because I already have my own fair share of criticisms and thoughts on what I'd change about it. I've got about 20 breweries in a 10 mile radius that will blow it out of the water. But it hasn't stopped me from drinking it...and I think I'm on about pour #4 tonite. Because at the end of the night...I'm enjoying it...because it is something that I made...and dammit, that is more than good enough for me!

Brew on!
 

CascadesBrewer

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...Until you were good at making beer? How many batches did you wreck before you made something drinkable. Or worth showing friends? How many brews until a person gets good at it?
Welcome to Homebrew Talk! If you are new to brewing or just thinking about getting started, just jump in and brew beer. You will learn and improve. I have been doing this for over 25 years and I learn a few things with every batch.

With the quality of ingredients and the information available these days, I suspect it is very easy for a new brewer to start with a decent equipment and extract ingredient kit and make a very nice beer on their first try.
 

oakbarn

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A friend said we should brew beer but use kegs and not bottle. We got a 10 gal Blickman Brew Kettle, a CO2 and Keg Setup and an English Bitter in a Can kit (small extract kit). We brewed on a turkey fryer and cooled the Wort by submeging the Kettle in a horse trough full of ice water (how's that for sanitation?) We kegged and carbonated. WOW! I was hooked. We did extracts for about a year, going from kits to buying extracts and hops to partial grain and finally tried an All Grain Kit. We never returned to extracts. The only issue we had is that we always wanted bigger equipment and more control as we progressed.
 
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Craftyape007

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Loaded question dude. So many variables. Depends on how much effort you put into it, how consistent you are w/your process, how much help you have/don't have getting started, having immediate peers to lean on.

How beer snobbish friends are, what you consider wrecked/drinkable and so on...and so forth.

I've only been brewing for about a year, and I've gotten mixed results. I've shared with a couple family members, friends, etc., and I've gotten very positive feedback and I'm assuming it wasn't just lip service based on repeat pours, requests and so forth. I still have SOOOO much room to grow, and I know that there are others on this forum that haven't been brewing as long that seem like they're knocking it out of the park. What are they doing right, what am I doing wrong..? I don't know..keep on learning I guess...

I've got a pale ale that I just is mature enough to drink as of about a week ago....and it isn't great. If a friend happens to come over, I'll invite them to take a pour. My wife really likes it, but I think she is heavily biased. I doubt I'll end up asking my old boss that has been brewing for 40+years because I already have my own fair share of criticisms and thoughts on what I'd change about it. I've got about 20 breweries in a 10 mile radius that will blow it out of the water. But it hasn't stopped me from drinking it...and I think I'm on about pour #4 tonite. Because at the end of the night...I'm enjoying it...because it is something that I made...and dammit, that is more than good enough for me!

Brew on!
Maybe the problem may be that I am a beer snob. IDK. I work so hard on these brews, I am consistent and meticulous. I have been crushed every time. I have dumped all except one. They are terrible after conditioning. I suppose I was expecting that I would be in full stride by now.
 
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Craftyape007

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A friend said we should brew beer but use kegs and not bottle. We got a 10 gal Blickman Brew Kettle, a CO2 and Keg Setup and an English Bitter in a Can kit (small extract kit). We brewed on a turkey fryer and cooled the Wort by submeging the Kettle in a horse trough full of ice water (how's that for sanitation?) We kegged and carbonated. WOW! I was hooked. We did extracts for about a year, going from kits to buying extracts and hops to partial grain and finally tried an All Grain Kit. We never returned to extracts. The only issue we had is that we always wanted bigger equipment and more control as we progressed.
So, do you believe kegging makes it easier/better?
 

IslandLizard

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Maybe the problem may be that I am a beer snob. IDK. I work so hard on these brews, I am consistent and meticulous. I have been crushed every time. I have dumped all except one. They are terrible after conditioning. I suppose I was expecting that I would be in full stride by now.
How many brews have you done, which one did you keep? Why was that one good enough?
Extract, all-grain, kits, or from posted recipes? Which?
Using secondaries?

Are you comparing your homebrew to commercial craft beer, if so which?
Are you trying to clone something?
 

CascadesBrewer

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Maybe the problem may be that I am a beer snob. IDK. I work so hard on these brews, I am consistent and meticulous. I have been crushed every time. I have dumped all except one. They are terrible after conditioning. I suppose I was expecting that I would be in full stride by now.
Give some info on what you have brewed so far (equipment, kits/recipes, general process, etc.) and I am sure you will get plenty of recommendations.

As far as kegging vs bottling...kegging has some advantages but it is not a magic fix to transform beers from dumpers to award winners.
 

GoodTruble

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If the batches are all bad, there is something wrong with the process (that can be fixed). But we need to know more about your process to diagnose.

To answer your question - my first extract batch was good. I've had a couple of "not great batches" and a couple I would change a thing or two next time (usually carbonation related), but almost all of them have have been really good, meeting or exceeding expectations.

If you have good ingredients, recipes, and process, good beer should result.
 

bracconiere

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i'm the odd one out around these parts...but the reason i started brewing was for a 99 cent twelve pack, i started brewing once a week in ~2005, and in late 2016 i hit it! 99 cent twelve pack baby!


(now i'm kinda curious if i should try and make it good or not? ;) :mug:)

oh, and this is a 8% twelve pack, so compared to store bought 50cents! i'd be the costco of beer, i aim to sell A LOT of product cheap!
 

oakbarn

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So, do you believe kegging makes it easier/better?
Absolutely. Never cleaned a bottle or worried about priming sugar. You can force carb in a hurry and be drinking after kegging shortly. You better control the carbonation level. When I was much younger and had only bottled carbed beer as an option, we used to be very careful opeaning a bottle, Some were flat, some were gysers, and some just right. That being said, we perfer to slow force carbonate. We are moving to carbonating in the fermentor. Forced carb: Better Control, No Bottle Bombs, No Flat Beer after two weeks..........
 

oakbarn

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Also when you say Bad, what do you mean? Off Flavor? Yeasty? Flat? Not cold enough? Fruit Beer? (I hate flavored beers, especially grapefruit or pumpkin!)

The only bad beers I have had were due to infections and a failure in Sanitzation.
 
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Craftyape007

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What I have: I have a Brewsie 16 gall brew pot with false bottom and with a shitty bazooka screen I cant stand. I also have three fermenters: a big mouth bubbler 6 gallon, a Fermzilla PET conical 7 gallon, and a Fermzilla all-Rounder PET 7 gallon. I have purchased every all grain type of malt you can think of...and bags and bags of various hops.
I'm on my sixth batch.
I started all grain kit but then went to milling and want to learn all grain. SO that said...during the process, I taste and taste and taste and all are decent up until I bottle and condition. After fermentation, it is not good at all. #1 an extract kit, I dumped cuz it didnt look like beer. #2, an all grain kit, was ok but drinkable. #3, I put too much priming sugar in the bottling bucket, couldn't drink it and had beer rockets. #4, i think I bottled too soon, the gravity said it was ready but the end result tasted like granny smith apples. #5 I made kolsch tasted fine then racked to a secondary with mango puree and it came out tasting like apple champagne. Beer should not taste like apple champagne. #6, The one that is fermenting now has a sulfur smell from the airlock and the airlock went crazy for two days now nothing after a week. It also doesn't smell like like good beer.

so the only one that was drinkable was a kit.

Help!! I just want to drink my beer
 
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AlexKay

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I didn't start kegging until about a year in, and I still bottle very small batches. I did arrange for fermentation temperature control (chest freezer + Inkbird) beginning at batch #1, so I did have that going for me.
 

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Do Less!

You have to walk before you can run.

From your equipment outlay (which is solid), it seems like you may have moved forward too quickly.

Make a partial mash mostly DME kit and ferment in the All Rounder. That will give you a lot of "control factors" to figure out what's going wrong.

With that many batches you didn't like, two possible issues could be water and temp control (what water are you using? And what temp do you ferment?) But get a simple kit, follow the instructions. If that doesn't work, then that will narrow down the possible problems.
 
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Craftyape007

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With that many batches you didn't like, two possible issues could be water and temp control (what water are you using? And what temp do you ferment?)
I use distilled water and then use software to tell me what i need to add based on the grains and hops. I add calcium, gypsum, Epsom salt, whatever is recommended.

For temp controls,, I have a brewjacket immersion pro temp control system as well as inkbird and converted cooler. My temp control could not be better.

I use a variety of yeasts, depending on the recipes I choose. And always set the temp around 68.

I put a lot of thought and prep..and well money...setting myself up for this...
 
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Craftyape007

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I assume with the fermzillas, you limited exposure to oxygen. How long did the beers condition?
Most definitely. Super strict about opening up the fermenter. I take it very seriously. The lid and the immersion pro, along with the airlock are dependable.

I conditioned:
Batch #1 - 0 weeks, dumped
#2 - 2 weeks (this was the all grain kit)
#3 - 3 weeks
#4 - 4 weeks
#3 - 3 weeks
#6 - still fermenting
 
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I'm at about 3 years and 63 batches in, for a long time it was like playing a slot machine; I'd brew a good batch just often enough to keep me motivated to continue brewing. I almost quit at one point when the hassle of bottling had me at a crossroads. I spent a couple of months building a keezer and acquiring all the gear then I got back to brewing. Since then much of the focus and energy that was wasted on bottling has been invested in improving my technique and recipes. I've had a few mediocre batches lately but they are definitely the exception, and I always have 3-4 'good' beers on tap.

Coincidently, I'm about to get back into bottling to put up a few big beers and barleywines to age, but I'll package those in 22oz bombers to minimize the hassle. Learned the hard way how much it sucks to tie up a keg for a year, or maybe I just need to buy more kegs 🤔
 

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Started with kegs and all grain after 1 Mr. Beer kit. I'm over 6 years in and the first 2/3 years I would always bottle about a half gallon or a little more off each batch made and the rest in a keg. Always made that extra bit because I didn't want to come up short kegging. This gave a perfect side by side comparison for bottled home brew and what I would consider to be professional quality keg beer. The bottle beer was ok to sub par IMO just on a general beer comparison and never held a candle to its kegged counterpart. I tried every kind of sugar or conditioning tablets and even honey for conditioning and none of them produced the quality I was looking for and honestly if bottled beer was the best I could have done I would have quit and just went back to buying 6 packs at the store. I've been drinking craft beer since the mid 1990's boom in Colorado so I've got a touch of snobby going on for sure. Instead of kits you have endless online shared beer recipes that you could try beersmith and brewers friend are good place to start. Even if you don't want to copy you can gather info on a bunch of different recipes of the same type/style to see general common ingredients and switch things up with grain, hops and yeast as this is a good way to learn how to come up with your own recipes. As far as wanting to bottle age something strong I would recommend bottling out of a keg and then aging. I drink the beers to fast for this but my buddy did an experiment for me where I gave him a case and he stretched it to about the 6 month mark where he though the Imperial stout might have started to decline a little. I brew a bunch of strong beers and age none of them unless they are going in the barrel for 3 months. I had him do the experiment because this is his favorite beer even with out aging, but he said at about 4 months that it went to a whole different level ( although only having a couple every couple of weeks to a month might be like the whole missing something makes the heart grow stronger or whatever) . That could be the case but the timing of when to consume it is cumbersome and I'd rather try to make beer that is good enough to not have to age it for enjoyment.
 
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bwible

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>>#1 an extract kit, I dumped cuz it didnt look like beer.

What does that mean, it didn’t look like beer? Cloudy? Color off?

>>#2, an all grain kit, was ok but drinkable.

Great!

>>#3, I put too much priming sugar in the bottling bucket, couldn't drink it and had beer rockets.

Honest mistake, happens to everybody

>>4, i think I bottled too soon, the gravity said it was ready but the end result tasted like granny smith apples.


>> #5 I made kolsch tasted fine then racked to a secondary with mango puree and it came out tasting like apple champagne. Beer should not taste like apple champagne.

Fruit purees contain fermentable sugar that yeast consume and some left over compounds that add flavor. And you need to use a whole lot of puree. You get that flavor you describe when you don’t use enough puree. I’ve never had good luck using purees.

>>#6, The one that is fermenting now has a sulfur smell from the airlock and the airlock went crazy for two days now nothing after a week. It also doesn't smell like like good beer.

Are you using lager yeast? Lager yeast produces a sulfury smell that will go down with aging. Lager beers need to be aged cold.

Start with a basic recipe, nothing too fancy to begin with. Stout and brown ales are good first time brews. Get the basics down before trying flavorings and extra things.
 

CascadesBrewer

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Do Less!
You have to walk before you can run.
From your equipment outlay (which is solid), it seems like you may have moved forward too quickly.
This would be my thoughts as well. My advice would be to find one or two general styles you like, and figure out how to make that well. Jumping around between different recipes and learning to use different yeasts is prone to be frustrating. Once you know you can make a nice Pale Ale or Irish Stout, then grow from there.
 

NoCornOrRice

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I "brewed" Cooper's kits for about 3 years and was perfectly happy with them. Dumped the hopped wort sludge in a bucket, filled with hot water, added the yeast, and corn sugar. I used to also drink my buddy's brews... same process, but open fermentation, and he had several cats, he'd often fish the hair out before kegging. We usually drank them within one week of "brew" day.

My first all-grain batch, I did not understand mash temp and it did not convert. It was pretty good starting with the subsequent one tho. I have considerably higher standards now, lol.
 

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Had a couple dumpers (extract batches) early on. Both infected, had bottle volcanoes. I stepped up my sanitation, replaced tubing and other plastic parts, etc. Never another infection.

Then switched to all-grain (BIAB). A couple decent ones right away, but I got cocky and started doing complex beers with little experience under my belt. Big Belgians, and such. They were OK, but not great. A lot of ingredients and work for some "meh" beers. So I went back to basics--simple beers, even some SMASH, just to get familiar with what each ingredient brings to the table.

Another step was to work on process. Better temp control, better ingredient storage, reducing oxidation wherever I could (hard to do with bottling, but some things can be done). That helped.

I now make pretty good beers most of the time. Get a so-so batch from time to time, but it's drinkable.

Like someone else mentioned here, you have to walk before you run.
 

Knightshade

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I’ll +1 some of the advice I’m here. Select 1 fermenter, stick with it and refine your process.

Suggest going simple with recipes too, do a couple SMaSH beers, again to refine your process. Use different hops if you want some variety. I brewed a SMaSH(ish) pale ale a couple weeks ago because I felt I had lost my way and had recently made a REALLY meh beer and a dumper.

Heck, this is a great recipe for hop discovery too. Simple grain bill, consistent yeast, all you’re changing is hops.


I went more or less straight to AG brewing and kegging. It can be done.

A question though, don’t see it specified and wondering if this is where something is going wrong is how you’re bottling? I’m assuming from fermenter into priming bucket. All bottles are already cleaned, sanitized and ready to go?
 

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A lot of good feedback in this thread! I started doing extract batches. After about a year I switched over to all grain, but the experience I gained making about 10 extract batches was invaluable. Once you have the process down, it makes moving to all grain much easier. That being said, all grain can be super overwhelming. It's like going into a fully stocked pantry and not knowing how to cook well. Even after brewing for 5+ years, I still find it overwhelming, but easier to navigate through the abyss. I would say research is the number 1 thing that helped my beer. I read everything I can, and I pick everyone's brain. I read on styles I'm interested in brewing. Lots of home brew sites have simple recipes to follow, to get your feet wet. YouTube! Every time I visit a brewery I ask about their process, ingredients etc. I joined a local beer club, which also has helped tremendously. Most people are very willing to help or at least offer advice on how to improve.

Most local breweries will have someone working that is willing to talk beer. Tell them you just started brewing and are having a difficult time. Keeping it simple is a great approach. Truth be told, most really good beer isn't super complex. You can make most styles with fewer than 3 or 4 grains (often times just 2 or 3), 2 to 3 hop varieties and yeast. Water can be a concern, especially if it's tap. I started using Poland Spring bottles from Walmart, and the beer was absolutely drinkable. Once I learned about water chemistry, I switched to RO water, but that isn't a necessity to brew good beer.

This site has also been great. Met tons of nice people and learned a lot. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Keep it simple!
 

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I've never had a real dumper, some were better, some just okay.
I think I lucked out with having amazing city water, so my basics were easier than some people's.

the only beer that really didn't work well was a saison that i forgot to use any clearing agents, so it was a cloudy yeasty mess.
 
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Craftyape007

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What does that mean, it didn’t look like beer? Cloudy? Color off?
It looked like bottling process caused an infection and it had a faint rotten egg smell. And a bit too yeasty seemingly

Are you using lager yeast? Lager yeast produces a sulfury smell that will go down with aging. Lager beers need to be aged cold.
No a an empire Ale yeast


Start with a basic recipe, nothing too fancy to begin with. Stout and brown ales are good first time brews. Get the basics down before trying flavorings and extra things.
Ok sounds like good advice
 

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Started out with extract kits and paid attention to the details while trying not to over-think … ended up making decent, share-able beer from day one. Been brewing for over 12 years now and have had a few “disappointments” along the way as well as the occasional “not what I expected but ok” batches too… only had 3 dumpers though. Last one was a year ago.
 
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Craftyape007

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Had a couple dumpers (extract batches) early on. Both infected, had bottle volcanoes. I stepped up my sanitation, replaced tubing and other plastic parts...
What is your method for keeping the tubing sanitized and fresh? Which plastic components did you switch out?
 

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What is your method for keeping the tubing sanitized and fresh? Which plastic components did you switch out?
I always keep a 5 gal bucket of Starsan solution. On bottling day I'd toss everything in that bucket for a while. Siphon hoses are a bit tricky, but I'd make sure to fill up the tubing with Starsan to sanitize the insides. The bottling bucket valve can be disassembled--I put the parts in a jar of Starsan to store until next time.

I'd replace vinyl tubing (siphon hoses, etc.) every so often. I usually get 20' rolls of 5/16" and 3/8" tubing from the hardware store for a few bucks, so the cost of replacement is minimal.
 
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I started home-brewing full-time about 4 1/2 years ago. I had a Mr. Beer pre-2000, and it sucked compared to what I could buy, the kits were never in stock, etc., so I quit home-brewing. Since 2017, though, I have brewed/vinted 20+ batches per year. Not a lot of wine or mead, but a decent amount of cider and a lot of ale. I have yet to successfully make a lager. Anyways, my first few batches were hit and miss, the darker beers were better because the malt and hops can cover some major process flaws. As I have moved to better temp control, O2 ingress control, and ingredient understanding, I am making 4-5% Pale Ales with wonderful hop expression and clean flavors (and some in-demand beers from people I know).

I am a stickler for sanitation (comes from being a profession chef) and I take copious notes of every step of the way including how it tastes from wort to throughout the fermentation, end of fermentation, and then every day (or so) as it carbonates in the keg. Some beers don't need that much testing anymore, I have them dialed in, but new brews get careful attention until I am satisfied that other humans are allowed to taste it.
 
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Craftyape007

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UPDATE: i simplified my approach on the recipes, then i also switched to kegging, instead of bottles. Additionally, I also added one additional week for fermentation. All is good now. I now have a wonderful porter and an IPA that turned out fantastically well.

Thanks everyone for the insights and help
 
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