Most overrated home-brew topics?

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55x11

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I was wondering what topics we discuss more than necessary in home brewing.
Here's my list:

1. efficiency/hitting original gravity
2. Mash pH/chasing water profiles
3. decoctions
4. hot side aeration
5. Vorlauf
(6). Sanitation. Don't get me wrong, it's super important. Its just that people who neglect it, will never get it -and their beers will suffer for it, and people who care about sanitation care about it a bit too much, at the OCD level.
 

Siberian

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Sorry #2 doesn't belong on your list. I've been brewing now for 4 years, I've got around 300 batches under my belt.

Water adjustment which I've just started taking more seriously this year has made by far the biggest difference in my beer of anything in a long time.

I'd put temperature control on the list, as long as you are consistent (no wide swings during the day) and not too extreme (no 75+ degree rooms) you'll do fine.
 

mattdee1

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Yeah, I've just started with paying attention to water, and am not looking back. It matters. All the chemistry is a bit esoteric, so discussion being common is not surprising, as all kinds of brewers try to learn.

For topics getting undue attention, my votes would be:

- mash temperature adjustment to control "body"
- aerating wort prior to pitching yeast
- rehydrating (or not) dry yeast
 
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55x11

55x11

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Water chemistry isn't overrated at all.
like sanitizing - it's important. of course. But it's also overrated. For the amount of effort, complexity, time and research it requires, the impact is not that significant - unless your regular tap water is way off in some way. So it's important to know if you are one of those people, but if you are not, it may not be worth the effort, and likely there are other things you are missing that are more crucial.
And for people who don't know what they are doing, its more likely they will mess it up in some way.
I would say for 90% of beers and 90% of brewers, using your own carbon-filtered water, or perhaps cut 1:1 with RO water will work just fine.

Sure, I often make subtle adjustments, mostly for stouts and pale ales, and I even measure pH once in a while, but in terms of ratio of complexity vs. taste improvement, it's going to to up there with decoction and turbid mash.

Not a knock on anyone using it - if you are educated enough to understand pH buffering and know the difference between sodium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate and how each of those additions influences effective hardness - just as one example - great! you should totally do it, and it probably makes a difference in your beer - because you already exhausted all other areas of improvements.

But for most regular brewers it's too complicated and is overkill. That's just my opinion. I own 3 pH meters, and 5-6 different packs of mineral/acid additions that I use once in a while, but I wouldn't recommend it for most brewers who are not already super into water chemistry.

In fact, I bet a large section people who think water treatment improve their beers, do that due to placebo effect (you spent all this time and effort and money - it must be better), and that another large section (overlapping) makes their beer actually worse if they just took their chlorine-filtered tap water.
 
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55x11

55x11

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Necessity of a secondary.
Necessity of secondary is a great one. I should have thought of it.

I have a few other ones:

Crystal Malt. Too many people rely too much on crystal malt

IBUs. IBU is overrated. There. I said it. I like, no I LOVE hoppy beers, but aroma is more important than bitterness, and besides, your IBU numbers are WAY off!

Following Recipes "blindly". Too many people just copy recipes without any idea what any of ingredients do to their beer.

Too many weird additions/adjuncts. Yes, we are all very impressed with your rhubarb/portabella/molasses/brazillian nut/bluefish tuna wheat rye saison, but come on!
 

Jimbodaman

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like sanitizing - it's important. of course. But it's also overrated. For the amount of effort, complexity, time and research it requires, the impact is not that significant - unless your regular tap water is way off in some way. /QUOTE]

I respectfully disagree, it's so simple if you don't over think it. Spending $40 or so on a water report seems like a lot but many people wouldn't bat an eye dropping 500$ on a keg/kegerator system. Not getting a water report to me is like not using star san, but I digress. Now for the simple part, fill out the brewersfriend calculator and adjust mash pH with acid or acid malt like I do, that's it (for me). My beers have improved tremendously since I've started adjusting mash pH since I happen to have decent brewing water. If I had "bad" brewing water I would simply buy RO water and build it up with say "5g of gypsum 5g cal chloride" that's it simple. Weigh out two things, buy water.
 

h22lude

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I respectfully disagree, it's so simple if you don't over think it. Spending $40 or so on a water report seems like a lot but many people wouldn't bat an eye dropping 500$ on a keg/kegerator system. Not getting a water report to me is like not using star san, but I digress. Now for the simple part, fill out the brewersfriend calculator and adjust mash pH with acid or acid malt like I do, that's it (for me). My beers have improved tremendously since I've started adjusting mash pH since I happen to have decent brewing water. If I had "bad" brewing water I would simply buy RO water and build it up with say "5g of gypsum 5g cal chloride" that's it simple. Weigh out two things, buy water.
I agree. Water chemistry is not overrated at all and is very easy to understand. It is extremely difficult to master it but after report the Water Primer and Water (the book), I have a much better understanding of it. My tap water is great for drinking. Terrible for brewing. After a few calcium additions and lactic acid, my beers became so much better.

I was wondering what topics we discuss more than necessary in home brewing.
Here's my list:

1. efficiency/hitting original gravity
2. Mash pH/chasing water profiles
3. decoctions
4. hot side aeration
5. Vorlauf
(6). Sanitation. Don't get me wrong, it's super important. Its just that people who neglect it, will never get it -and their beers will suffer for it, and people who care about sanitation care about it a bit too much, at the OCD level.
1) Efficiency I can sort of understand why some will think it is talked about too much but I do think it is important. Not chasing a higher efficiency but knowing your efficiency to adopt a recipe to your set up is important. Hitting OG is also important. You can be a few points off but if you are 10 points off, the balance of the beer can change. The ABV will change. It will still be good beer, just not what you thought it would be.

2) Mash pH is HUGE in AG. My tap water creates a mash pH over 6.0 which can and has caused off flavors, tannin extraction. Getting the right mash pH is important.
 

jmcquesten

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The "why is my beer really foamy but still flat" discussions. Along with "my beer lines are 4 ft long because that's what ____ said works for them, but my beer is really foamy yet still flat" issues.

Why is mikesoltys.com line length calculator not required reading before posting a kegging/foam issue? Properly balancing line length should be every bit as stressed as sanitation, temp control, and yeast starter/pitching rates, when talking about kegging.
 

day_trippr

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[...]Why is mikesoltys.com line length calculator not required reading before posting a kegging/foam issue? [...]
First, I totally agree - but then again, the world is flooded with the 99% of self-purported "line length calculators" that are total bullcrap because of the same stupid misinterpretation of a tubing spec- so it's understandable that nearly everyone gets it wrong to start.

Second - the list of "Read Before Doing" would be YUGE - everyone's favorite "Don't Do That" would be pre-empted with lots of reading.
That ain't gonna happen, either ;)

Cheers!
 
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55x11

55x11

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like sanitizing - it's important. of course. But it's also overrated. For the amount of effort, complexity, time and research it requires, the impact is not that significant - unless your regular tap water is way off in some way. /QUOTE]

I respectfully disagree, it's so simple if you don't over think it. Spending $40 or so on a water report seems like a lot but many people wouldn't bat an eye dropping 500$ on a keg/kegerator system. Not getting a water report to me is like not using star san, but I digress. Now for the simple part, fill out the brewersfriend calculator and adjust mash pH with acid or acid malt like I do, that's it (for me). My beers have improved tremendously since I've started adjusting mash pH since I happen to have decent brewing water. If I had "bad" brewing water I would simply buy RO water and build it up with say "5g of gypsum 5g cal chloride" that's it simple. Weigh out two things, buy water.
Ok, Fine. But with all due respect then you really don't get into water chemistry, you just blindly follow some instructions or some calculator, and that's not what I meant. But even at that level it is somewhat involved as you need to have various minerals and salts and trust that what you are doing makes sense for the beer you are making.
 
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55x11

55x11

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First, I totally agree - but then again, the world is flooded with the 99% of self-purported "line length calculators" that are total bullcrap because of the same stupid misinterpretation of a tubing spec- so it's understandable that nearly everyone gets it wrong to start.

Second - the list of "Read Before Doing" would be YUGE - everyone's favorite "Don't Do That" would be pre-empted with lots of reading.
That ain't gonna happen, either ;)

Cheers!
again, I agree with both of you.

And understanding the basic science of pressure, carbonation science and line resistance is a great intuitive way to solving those problems, as opposed to just using a calculator without clear idea why you are doing what you are doing.
 
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55x11

55x11

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1) Efficiency I can sort of understand why some will think it is talked about too much but I do think it is important. Not chasing a higher efficiency but knowing your efficiency to adopt a recipe to your set up is important. Hitting OG is also important. You can be a few points off but if you are 10 points off, the balance of the beer can change. The ABV will change. It will still be good beer, just not what you thought it would be.

2) Mash pH is HUGE in AG. My tap water creates a mash pH over 6.0 which can and has caused off flavors, tannin extraction. Getting the right mash pH is important.
Efficiency - just add 1 lb or so more base grain, problem solved. People who say that they got 80% efficiency didn't do their math properly. People who say they only got 50% and want to get 80% like that other person - well, look at possible problems (temperature etc.), but then just add more grain and don't worry about it.

Speaking of which, a few other overrated issues:

Multi-step mash process.
Mash-out.

If your water gives you mash pH of 6.0+ and off-flavors, you are one of those people who need water chemistry treatment. But I maintain that too many people do it for no good reason, and when done scientifically, it could get quite involved.
 

mongoose33

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I agree. Water chemistry is not overrated at all and is very easy to understand. It is extremely difficult to master it but after report the Water Primer and Water (the book), I have a much better understanding of it. My tap water is great for drinking. Terrible for brewing. After a few calcium additions and lactic acid, my beers became so much better.
I'm surprised to see anyone say this. Very easy to understand? You must have a background in chemistry.

I have the Water book, and it was one of the slowest slogs I've had in the last 10 years. I've gotten my water to a decent point, but it was only after switching to RO water that things smoothed out.

If water chemistry were easy, we wouldn't have so many questions about it. :)
 
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55x11

55x11

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I'm surprised to see anyone say this. Very easy to understand? You must have a background in chemistry.

I have the Water book, and it was one of the slowest slogs I've had in the last 10 years. I've gotten my water to a decent point, but it was only after switching to RO water that things smoothed out.

If water chemistry were easy, we wouldn't have so many questions about it. :)
thats PRECISELY my point. I too read Water book and re-read it and it's been putting me to sleep. And I have a PhD.
It's not that water is not important. It's that for the amount of time that it takes to REALLY understand water chemistry at the deep level, you may be better doing something else - like researching different malts and hop combinations and how to design your recipes properly or how to improve yeast health, etc. All of those are much, MUCH more straightforward issues than water chemistry, can give you much more bang-for-the-buck.

I was reading Mosher's recent Mastering Homebrew book and it became obvious to me that most home brewers don't think twice about what those crystal malts or chocolate malt or even various hop addition do to your beer. I certainly didn't know it for quite a while. That to me is much more important than chasing specific water chemistry of Burton-on-Trent or Pilsen.

I am willing to bet most people who make water chemistry modifications could not coherently explain what they are doing and why. (which is Ok, just saying).
 

mongoose33

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thats PRECISELY my point. I too read Water book and re-read it and it's been putting me to sleep. And I have a PhD.
It's not that water is not important. It's that for the amount of time that it takes to REALLY understand water chemistry at the deep level, you may be better doing something else - like researching different malts and hop combinations and how to design your recipes properly or how to improve yeast health, etc. All of those are much, MUCH more straightforward issues than water chemistry, can give you much more bang-for-the-buck.

I was reading Mosher's recent Mastering Homebrew book and it became obvious to me that most home brewers don't think twice about wha those crystal malts or chocolate malt or even various hop addition do to your beer. I certainly didn't know it for quite a while. That to me is much more important than chasing specific water chemistry of Burton-on-Trent or Pilsen.

I am willing to bet most people who make water chemistry modifications could not coherently explain what they are doing and why. (which is Ok, just saying).
I'm laughing at this. I have a PhD as well, and it's the same thing as you. I tend to dive into things, and try to master them, but this is harder to do. I need practice at it. I'm OK with it, just not as confident as I would be in my own field. Not by a long shot.

I'm considering taking a college Chemistry course just to have a structured learning environment. I have a couple of Chemist friends who say "oh, it's not that hard," but they have PhD's in Chemistry. I don't.

And now you have me looking at Mastering Homebrew on Amazon and trying to decide if I should buy that one, too. :)
 

pricelessbrewing

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Efficiency - just add 1 lb or so more base grain, problem solved. People who say that they got 80% efficiency didn't do their math properly. People who say they only got 50% and want to get 80% like that other person - well, look at possible problems (temperature etc.), but then just add more grain and don't worry about it.
Really? You think 80% mash or brewhouse efficiency is unreachable? You're kidding right?

I don't care about chasing efficiency numbers, but to say people are ignorant or lying if they get 80% mash/brewhouse is just...
 

h22lude

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Efficiency - just add 1 lb or so more base grain, problem solved. People who say that they got 80% efficiency didn't do their math properly. People who say they only got 50% and want to get 80% like that other person - well, look at possible problems (temperature etc.), but then just add more grain and don't worry about it.

Speaking of which, a few other overrated issues:

Multi-step mash process.
Mash-out.

If your water gives you mash pH of 6.0+ and off-flavors, you are one of those people who need water chemistry treatment. But I maintain that too many people do it for no good reason, and when done scientifically, it could get quite involved.
80% efficiency is not a possible thing? Many people get over 80% and correctly calculate it. Not sure where you are getting this from.

Yes you can add grain if you can't increase efficiency but how do you know how much grain to put in if you don't know your efficiency? Without your efficiency of your set up, you wouldn't know how much grain to put it. That is why it is important to take notes on volumes and gravity throughout the day.

Sure, some people may not NEED to do anything to their water like I do. If I didn't do anything, I would have possible off flavors. However, I think most people benefit from mineral additions. I have seen a lot of people post some great water reports that put their mash pH right in the line with what we need but they have low calcium. Sure, their beer will be good but if they bring up their calcium from 20 to 100 for an IPA, they will probably have an even better beer.

Ok, Fine. But with all due respect then you really don't get into water chemistry, you just blindly follow some instructions or some calculator, and that's not what I meant. But even at that level it is somewhat involved as you need to have various minerals and salts and trust that what you are doing makes sense for the beer you are making.
You do need to know your water report. You do need to know what levels of minerals your beer needs. You do need to know your mash pH. None of those things are hard to figure out though. You make it seem like having these minerals is hard to get. You can go to any lhbs and get calcium chloride and gypsum (the two main mineral additions most people use).

I'm surprised to see anyone say this. Very easy to understand? You must have a background in chemistry.

I have the Water book, and it was one of the slowest slogs I've had in the last 10 years. I've gotten my water to a decent point, but it was only after switching to RO water that things smoothed out.

If water chemistry were easy, we wouldn't have so many questions about it. :)
No I do not have a chemistry background. It is easy to understand the basics of water for brewing. But if you read on, I said it is extremely hard to master water chemistry. I got a water report. I read the intro from Bru'n Water. I read Water. I entered my water report into Bru'n Water. Figured out what my water should look like for the style of beer I'm making and then match it with some calcium chloride and gypsum additions. I then correct my estimated mash pH using lactic acid. I do measure my mash pH 15 minutes into the mash to make sure the estimated mash pH was around what it actually is. That is very easy for most people to do. That is all you need. Sure getting into the hows and whats and whys is complicated but most people don't need to know the chemical make up of these minerals and how they interact with the water and grain. Knowing your water report and what you need to do to get the minerals in line with the style you are making and the mash pH is important to making great beer and isn't hard to learn at all.

The reason people ask so many questions is because it sounds a lot harder than it is. Like I said, getting into the actual chemistry of what is happening is extremely tough to understand but 99% of home brewers don't need to know why. They need to understand their water, what minerals to add, why they are being added (i.e. IPAs need more calcium and gypsum is better than calcium chloride for IPAs) and how these change their mash pH. All that is very easy to learn.

If we are talking about two different things, then I apologize. When you say water chemistry my mind goes to mineral additions, grist and mash pH. If you are referring to the actual chemistry of it all; how calcium chloride reacts with the grains to lower mash pH, why lactic acid or acid malt changes the mash pH or why darker beers have a lower mash pH, then yes I agree it is very complicated and most home brewers won't need to get that far into it. I read Water and need to read it again to understand it but it gave me so much good info on the basics of water and the different additions. For me, that is all I need to know and that has turned my good beer into great beer using my tap water.
 

eric19312

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I was wondering what topics we discuss more than necessary in home brewing.
Here's my list:

1. efficiency/hitting original gravity
2. Mash pH/chasing water profiles
3. decoctions
4. hot side aeration
5. Vorlauf
(6). Sanitation. Don't get me wrong, it's super important. Its just that people who neglect it, will never get it -and their beers will suffer for it, and people who care about sanitation care about it a bit too much, at the OCD level.
Price per bottle/keg/batch. Or how much money I am saving brewing my own craft beer. Or how to brew cheap. All the same thread. Haven't seen one this week yet may be time to start a new one :mug:
 

str1p3s

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Getting snipped - Yay or Nay?

I see that thread pop up a minimum of once a week haha :)
 

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"Is this an infection?"

BUT!! I love reading those posts so keep em coming! As long as it includes pics!
 

MapleGroveAleworks

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like sanitizing - it's important. of course. But it's also overrated. For the amount of effort, complexity, time and research it requires, the impact is not that significant - unless your regular tap water is way off in some way. So it's important to know if you are one of those people, but if you are not, it may not be worth the effort, and likely there are other things you are missing that are more crucial.
And for people who don't know what they are doing, its more likely they will mess it up in some way.
I would say for 90% of beers and 90% of brewers, using your own carbon-filtered water, or perhaps cut 1:1 with RO water will work just fine.

Sure, I often make subtle adjustments, mostly for stouts and pale ales, and I even measure pH once in a while, but in terms of ratio of complexity vs. taste improvement, it's going to to up there with decoction and turbid mash.

Not a knock on anyone using it - if you are educated enough to understand pH buffering and know the difference between sodium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate and how each of those additions influences effective hardness - just as one example - great! you should totally do it, and it probably makes a difference in your beer - because you already exhausted all other areas of improvements.

But for most regular brewers it's too complicated and is overkill. That's just my opinion. I own 3 pH meters, and 5-6 different packs of mineral/acid additions that I use once in a while, but I wouldn't recommend it for most brewers who are not already super into water chemistry.

In fact, I bet a large section people who think water treatment improve their beers, do that due to placebo effect (you spent all this time and effort and money - it must be better), and that another large section (overlapping) makes their beer actually worse if they just took their chlorine-filtered tap water.
Agree to disagree then. Doesn't matter.
 

Nummey

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Any threads discussing the use of fancy overpriced beer guns and oxygenation wands. IMO, both are extremely overrated and unnecessary on the 5-10 gallon homebrew front.
 

h22lude

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CO2 blankets. They just don't exist.
This is probably the best one so far.

Agree to disagree then. Doesn't matter.
I can agree with this! To each their own. We each do things our own way and we each have things we do that we think improves our beers and things we don't do that we think would hurt our beers.

I personally think mineral additions would improve most peoples beers to some extent and really isn't that hard to learn. You don't need to get into the full blown chemistry of how things are working with the mash. You just need to have an understanding of what each addition can do (http://howtobrew.com/book/section-3...h-ph/using-salts-for-brewing-water-adjustment) and what to do for each beer you brew. Like I said early, I need to add calcium and lower mash pH with acid for most beers. Even if someone has the perfect water for mash pH, they still made need calcium. If someone has 12ppm of calcium and wants to brew an IPA, their mash pH may be ok but that 12ppm calcium is way too low for an IPA. Sure it will make good beer but the hop flavor will come out more with more calcium.
 
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