New Brewers -O2 obsessions - and mild ranting

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gunhaus

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As I peruse the internet, I see lots of concern from new brewers about oxygen and what it will do to their beer. It seems that more and more, simple beginner questions are being responded to with long dissertations of the evils of ANY oxygen exposure. NOW – if you are an experienced brewer, with the money and the interest to buy all sorts of pressurized SS conical fermenters, and closed transfer vessels, and can afford a scientific vacuum chamber clean room in space in which to brew your beverages – Then good on ya – You probably don’t want to read this, and will no doubt view me as a lying, heretical, unwashed heathen – I am, but I sleep good anyhow.

YES – minimizing O2 exposure is a good thing – MINIMIZING. If you are new to this sport, do not fret endlessly that you are doing something wrong if you do not have all the goodies and gadgets. People have been making VERY GOOD BEER, for a very long time, in buckets, and carboys, and jugs. They have been transferring to bottling buckets with nasty old racking canes, and putting the end product into antiquated bottles to grow bubbles. AND they have been pleasing themselves, their friends, family, and GASP . . . . Judges at competitions the whole time! They still are.

Anytime someone tells me that something is “absolute” I start to get real suspicious. The only thing in this universe that is absolute is the speed of light – and I ain’t really so sure of that! Sadly, there are more and more people responding to O2 questions with “absolute” statements about o2 exposure. There is an implication that even the most minuscule exposure will ABSOLUTELY render a beer virtually undrinkable. It will be bland, tasteless, papery, and unfit for anything other than being dumped on the garden. “I can ABSOLUTELY taste if even a tiny O2 exposure occurred.” “Even a few molecules of O2 in a few micro seconds will irreparably ruin a beers flavor profiles FOREVER.” Pretty bold and all too common statements. This is just so much utter nonsense - it is ridiculous! If a person is O2 obsessed, and has all the mechanisms to prevent it, and inadvertently has a minimal exposure they will no doubt taste the O2 – or at least they will BE CONVINCED they taste it. I am sure there is a psychological name for this! If you believe it is there you WILL taste it – no one else will – but you will. ANYWAY - If you do not have closed transfers, kegging systems, and sealed fermenters DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. Most beginners do not. And they SHOULD NOT be made to feel insecure or inferior because they are starting out with basics and growing on the fly.

Yes, O2 exposure is to be limited as much as YOU CAN. But do not waste time worrying about not having all the latest high tech gear. Do not worry if your beer sees a little O2 when bottling. Simply DO NOT WORRY so much. And don’t let the uber technical out there put you off of brewing or trying something just because THEY think you can not do it if you don’t do it their way! Use what you have, take your time and do it well, and enjoy the results. If you end up loving this hobby, and can justify the expenses, then please add on more and better O2 control measures. But don’t hold back or give up because someone tries to convince you all the do-dads are mandatory!

OBLIGATORY ANECDOTE:

We have a small local brew pub, that makes very good brews (And excellent food!) My nephew and brother are good friends with one of the owners. Recently I went with them to help with a small construction project at his home, and afterward, we retired to his garage/home brew cave to talk and taste a few cold ones. (The absolute BEST payment for “friendly construction” projects!!! Guess that is TWO absolutes in the universe!) He had a SS conical (empty at the time) a couple of good old Ale Pales, a glass carboy, and a Big Mouth Bubbler, in sight. While we were there he recruited a few spare hands, and he bottled up the contents of one of the buckets. This was a mild that had been down 10 days. He sent it to the bucket with a small homemade transfer pump, on a plain old corn sugar priming solution, put the lid loosely on the bucket, and bottled with a cheap old bottle filler on a 2” long piece of tube. We helped cap. This fellow is a kegger, we were drinking from a 6 tap keezer. And he had empty kegs. Why did he bottle? Well, he said for starters he really LIKES THE TASTE OF THIS BEER FROM A BOTTLE! Terrible I know! But since he is a pro, we must allow him his idiosyncrasies. Secondly, there is a small local competition coming up in about a week, and he was timing this brew to be ready. Last year he had entered this bottle finished mild in two small contests and had won a first and a second. He had tweaked it a bit and was hoping for best of show this year. YES, he has a counter pressure bottle filler. YES he had beers down in kegs that he was bottling to enter as well. He just LIKED the way this one bottle finished. Now this person surely knows all about the evils of O2! And I have been in his professional brewery and they surely do all the things you would expect! And yet, he felt perfectly fine about putting a mild in bottles, for both personal consumption and competition. Hmmmm. There is a lesson in there I am sure of it.

If you don’t like any of the above – you are probably gonna REALLY hate rant part 2: The Nonsense of Extract Bashing!
 

BrewInspector

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Here here
Minimize
Don't stress
Start with what you have
Increase doodads as you feel comfortable
Progress in skill and technique
Enjoy the process of growing
 

PADave

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I agree. Worrying about oxygen should be one of the little details that you work on after you have learned the basics of brewing. If you can't brew a good beer, o2 exposure or not, it's still a bad beer.
 

Transamguy77

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This is all good info, personally I don't worry about O2 really at all, ive beers in a keg and bottle for years and never had an issue. I have followed the same procedure since day one with no problems so I'm not going to fix what isn't broken.

And I agree with PADave you need to be able to make good beer first then start tweeking your process if you want too.

I can also see the passionate side of the scientific brewer that only deals with absolutes, I am not one and don't plan on it I want to enjoy making beer and not fret over every little thing.
 

MaxStout

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This will likely turn into a contentious thread, but what OP said needed to be said.

I am keenly aware of what O2 can do to beer and I try to minimize O2 absorption in my brews as much as practicable. If I am careful about my process and pay attention, I can (and do) make good beer. But at some level you reach a point of diminishing returns. Throwing a bunch more $$ at it and going all OCD isn't going to help me eke out much better beer.

There are so many other facets of brewing I need to improve upon to make better beer. Oxygen mitigation is but one of those.
 

ancientmariner52

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I've said this before, but here it is again:

When I ship hundred-car trainloads of beer, with no control over storage, handling, distribution, or date of consumption, I worry a great deal over oxygen. But I only do that a couple of times a week. For my homebrew, I don't pay it no mind.

P.S. I lied about the trainloads of beer. RDWHAHB.
 

mongoose33

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Here's one thing that always clouds these kinds of issues: not everyone can taste every off flavor. If one is not sensitive to oxidation, then one may never perceive it as a negative, if one has it.

It reminds me of people who, I swear, have grown used to extract twang as "normal."

So we have to be careful when we say that one thing doesn't affect outcome as it may for some people and not for others.

As for me, it just makes sense to limit O2 exposure as I can.

***********

That said, I've made some pretty good beers before I started thinking about O2.
 

Sbe2

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You forgot to add that you will ABSOLUTELY die and be taxed
 

grampamark

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Here's one thing that always clouds these kinds of issues: not everyone can taste every off flavor. If one is not sensitive to oxidation, then one may never perceive it as a negative, if one has it.

It reminds me of people who, I swear, have grown used to extract twang as "normal."

So we have to be careful when we say that one thing doesn't affect outcome as it may for some people and not for others.

As for me, it just makes sense to limit O2 exposure as I can.

***********

That said, I've made some pretty good beers before I started thinking about O2.
"If a tree falls in the forest..." and all like that.

The power of suggestion is, quite possibly, the most powerful force of human nature. It is what makes the pillars of modern society (politics, religion, popular culture, mass marketing and professional sports) possible. If some people perceive something as really, really important, that thing will matter a great deal to those people, reality be damned.

There is a wide gap between belief and knowledge. True Believers are quite content in their fact-proof bubbles.
 

PADave

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"If a tree falls in the forest..." and all like that.

The power of suggestion is, quite possibly, the most powerful force of human nature. It is what makes the pillars of modern society (politics, religion, popular culture, mass marketing and professional sports) possible. If some people perceive something as really, really important, that thing will matter a great deal to those people, reality be damned.

There is a wide gap between belief and knowledge. True Believers are quite content in their fact-proof bubbles.
So true, in all aspects of life. Amazing how my perspective on things changed when I quit staring at the TV. Get off your butt and figure things out for yourself, it'll go a long way.
 

JONNYROTTEN

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I brew a fine beer.
Some better than commercial, some I just drink because I made them ( honesty)
The only thing I see as a variable is clarity, yeast and oxygen

I've started filtering and feel it makes a difference- clarity
Yeast is yeast and what we buy..it is what it is but I believe is the number one factor in beer flavor variables ( no proof)

My only new thing to improve beer is to find a way to limit oxygen. I don't know if it will help but its just another tool...without buying more stuff and killing a ton of co2 doing closed transfers I'm not sure it'll happen...or if its worth it.
 

Hwk-I-St8

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I'm all for people chasing the LODO thing if it pleases them. I don't think it's a topic in a beginner's brewing forum and should be considered an advanced technique. That's just my persona opinion.

As far as the value, I go for the 80% solution because I'm not having issues that would drive me to go to the umteenth extent. I'm pretty hard core about doing what needs to be done to get the best out of what I do (national championship in sailing, multiple cooking competition best of show awards and a 41 on the only beer I've entered into a competition), but I won't do things that aren't yielding better results.

I'll be curious to see what happens in April. I'm brewing a NEIPA in a couple weeks for the national homebrew competition. Brewing in early march, shipping 3/24 but won't be judged until april 20th. I'll follow my usual process. If oxidation is an issue, I'm sure I'll hear about it. Given that I've sent bottles of the same recipe to a home brewer friend at about the same age and received comments about how impressed he was that it wasn't oxidized, I'm not too worried. YMMV.
 

mongoose33

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"If a tree falls in the forest..." and all like that.

The power of suggestion is, quite possibly, the most powerful force of human nature. It is what makes the pillars of modern society (politics, religion, popular culture, mass marketing and professional sports) possible. If some people perceive something as really, really important, that thing will matter a great deal to those people, reality be damned.

There is a wide gap between belief and knowledge. True Believers are quite content in their fact-proof bubbles.
That's true to a point. There are flavors I do not perceive that others can perceive. And I'm trying to perceive them, believe me. I have a friend with a super-palate, he tastes things I cannot perceive at all. We were drinking an apricot-flavored beer, he was complaining they used apricot extract instead of real fruit. It was right there on the label--apricot. But for the life of me I couldn't taste any apricot in there.

Same with other flavors. Some are more able to get them than others. That's part of what makes all this more mysterious than perhaps it should be.
 

MSK_Chess

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There are certain things that are incontrovertible, oxygen being detrimental to beer being one of them. To what extent we seek to reduce oxygen ingress is a personal matter. Those who are interested in Low Oxygen brewing take every precaution they possibly can within the dictates of their equipment and resources to reduce oxygen. Much of it is simple additions and common practice, adding SMB and pre boiling water by way of example. Some of it more advanced and requires specific equipment and/or techniques. In everything there are levels of understanding and a holistic approach to oxygen reduction and brewing in general is a really good idea.
 

MaxStout

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There are certain things that are incontrovertible, oxygen being detrimental to beer being one of them. To what extent we seek to reduce oxygen ingress is a personal matter. Those who are interested in Low Oxygen brewing take every precaution they possibly can within the dictates of their equipment and resources to reduce oxygen. Much of it is simple additions and common practice, adding SMB and pre boiling water by way of example. Some of it more advanced and requires specific equipment and/or techniques. In everything there are levels of understanding and a holistic approach to oxygen reduction and brewing in general is a really good idea.
This.

Do what you can, with the resources you have. You don't need a bunch of new bling to incorporate some LODO elements into your process. There are lots of ways to improve oxygen mitigation, using what's already on hand.
 
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gunhaus

gunhaus

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I started this post mostly for personal reasons. First i see a lot of posts about O2 and many elaborate explanations that seem to impart more frustration than necessary for new brewers. I see people giving up on idea or on trying things because they are convinced that can't move ahead with out TONS of gadgets.

But close to home, a couple months back i got to help a couple newbies get into the game. Now, I will explain, that i have been at this a long time. I brew all-grain, partial, and extract according to whim. I have gas and electric systems, and a whole array of ferm vessels, temp controls, lagering units and the so many of the things you can gather up over 25 odd years. I have a full machine shop and metal fab at my disposal, and a real interest in building gear and gadgets - this has made for a LOT of accumulated do-dads. I do MOST of my brews totally on the primary, rack under pressure via a closed transfer system to kegs, crash and clear under pressure. In other words i do fret a bit over O2 myself. A close friend comes over most brew days and helps me drink my beer and watches the show. I tried to get him into the game for years, and finally he allowed that while he would love too, he could not afford all the "crap" I had around the place. After a bit of cajoling, I convinced him to buy a really basic set up for extract brewing and we put together some ingredients for a simple blonde ale. Between watching me, and reading all the sites and forums he could devour while the gear accumulated, he was pretty well convinced that there was NO WAY this mess was gonna turn out. about 4 and a half weeks later we cracked a couple ice cold bottles and lo and behold - It was a nice tasty centennial blonde ale just like I told him. ALL from a brew pot, a couple of buckets, and a batches of bottles! The other newbie was my nephew and his wife and involved an APA kit, and much the same fretting and concern, and the same happy results.

I realized the paralysis through analysis is WAY to common, and that it is way to easy to over-emphasize complex techniques to new brewers. Far better to help them keep it simple, and grow into it, without sweating about ALL the infinite little details right out of the gate. VERY good beers can come from very simple gear! And I truly believe new brewers are going to learn more from brewin and doin, than they are from NOT brewing until they save enough up to buy the latest thermonuclear, vacuum seal, atmospherically controlled, robo-system! That's all!

P.S. Chessking - YES, in fact I do get paid by the word. Frequently and from several sources. It is a pretty neat extra income if you can wrangle it! Any particular reason for asking?
 

mongoose33

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I'm trying to do LODO brewing. I've had some success with it, but I'm still in the middle of figuring it out. It *isn't* easy to do, in the sense that the techniques complicate the process. Nothing anyone here couldn't do, it's just....more involved.

As such, I was interested in knowing if I moved toward LODO brewing if I'd be able to see positive results.

That's why I started the thread about whether doing partial LODO might still produce better results, about whether I needed to go the whole nine yards before I'd see a benefit. I'm sure everyone who's thought about LODO has had that thought, i.e., who wants to put in a powerful change in process, equipment, ingredients if it's all for naught.

Many disciples of LODO brewing are not as....helpful as they might be. There seems to be an air of "If you don't do it 100 percent..." in the posts. Not all, but it's there. I'm not the only one who notices this.

Had trouble getting a straight answer on the question about partial LODO benefit. I've had enough success with it to keep moving forward; then I'll decide whether the improvement in beer quality is worth it.

But other than oxygenating a starter or wort prior to pitching, there's nothing wrong with limiting oxygen exposure, and there is evidence it helps flavors. I always like to think of myself as moving toward perfection. I try to do something better every time (continuous quality improvement). I know I will never achieve perfection, but as Vince Lombardi is reputed to said, "If you chase perfection, you might catch excellence."

Vince's is good advice, I'd think, for any brewer.
 

MaxStout

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I see a lot of the "all-or-nothing" view in some of the LODO literature. Some of it is almost cultish in its approach. When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. However, there is some middle ground that is not only very approachable to most brewers, but will also provide some noticeable benefit. Limiting stirring and splashing, adding metabisulfites to the mash water, etc. All easy fixes, and all within reach of even beginner brewers.
 

Paulaner

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@Max Stout I think you should put the hammer and nail comment in quotations as we know where that comes from, LOL. On a serious note, don't fret over other peoples views, do it your way and find out for yourself, as I'm sure someone else has said "opinions are like assholes everyone has one and some peoples stinks". Do as I did start out with the simple things and move on from there, if you notice a difference slowly progress to better your equipment or process, if you don't notice a difference, now you know it's a waisted effort. I've been spoiled drinking great beer over the last 15 years here in Germany/Czech Republic and could never get that pure clean maltiness flavor till I started limiting O2 and now I'm all in on it, but I will admit, initially I was turned off also, but the proof is in the pudding or beer for that case. Also, @gunhaus not taking a dig at you, but for British styles such as a mild, bottling is the only way to go, the slight oxygenation is what defines the style at least for me, after drinking too many cask conditioned pints this past summer in England I've also grown a slight love of them, although I never brew that style.
 

Renegade Brewer

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While I agree new brewers should concentrate on what I refer to as the “brewing fundamentals,” minimizing oxidation is one of those things we want to advance to as we grow in our hobby and move from making good beer to great beer. As Jamil has stated many times the both in his publications and on The Brewing Network, reducing oxygen post fermentation will greatly enhance your product and take you from a low 20s scoring beer to a mid 40s scoring beer. You are probably making good beer with open transfer techniques and your friends and family most likely love it, but let’s remember it’s also free beer. When we take that beer and put it in front of a panel of judges or even try to compete for shelf space amongst other great beers I guarantee oxidation will be a factor in success or not.

I’ve noticed a huge difference when going from running my wort into buckets from the kettle then into kegs using a racking cane and what we use now which are closed transfer from the plate chiller, in-line pure O2 directly on the way to a closed and c02 purged pressurized Ss fermenter. Also closed transfer from the conical to the brite tank then to kegs and never letting my beer see the light of day until it hits your beer glass makes a huge difference.

Mike mcdole also preaches the importance of purging your vessels prior to transfer and closed transfer.

Reducing oxidation is one of those things like temp control, oxidizing your wort prior to pitching with pure O2, pitching enough healthy yeast, and adjusting your water to be the most conducive to the style you are brewing. These are all things that we try to get our new brewers to move toward once they have mastered the fundamentals of making good beer. These are all topics I stress in my advanced class, but don’t really touch on in my beginner classes.

I ask my customers if they are happy just making good beer every once in a while or if their goal is to take club of the year, win NHC, and make a product that would compete with those beers on the shelves. Depending on the answer depends on which way I would advise that particular customer.
 
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gunhaus

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No dig taken Paulaner! And I am in agreement. There are a couple of beers i brew that I prefer bottled over kegged - Others may not and that is dandy too>

The above mentioned "all-or-nothing" is part of what I was getting at. O2 MINIMIZATION can be approached in stages just like all other brewing aspects. The friend mentioned above really took to the game. After his first batch he rounded up a single keg system, and we modified a bucket lid, with a connector, and modified racking cane, and a couple do-dads. His second batch went from primary bucket to keg through a jury rigged "closed system" The keg was purged, the beer pushed with CO2 - Perfect? NO. A nice step up from a racking cane and bottles and open topped buckets - SURE. It's all about growing in stages and NOT fretting that you are not all-in from the get go. (BTW- I created another couple of fans of Beirmunchers Centennial Blonde - That was the extract brew i put together for him, and not only is he in love with it - His wife said he can make whatever he likes as long as he DOES NOT run out of this!)

My nephew and his bride are still nursing their APA - but their initial bucket, and a Primo Water jug are chugging along with a couple of hard Ciders, so i think they are hooked too!

Heck they are young and ambitious - maybe they will open a brew pub, and i can drink for free as repayment for my generous teaching skills!!!!!:ban:
 

chessking

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P.S. Chessking - YES, in fact I do get paid by the word. Frequently and from several sources. It is a pretty neat extra income if you can wrangle it! Any particular reason for asking?
I dig brevity. Carry on
 

Queequeg

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Imo this really comes down to three things 1) beer style 2) expectations 3) shelf life

Many beer styles are completely unaffected by micro oxidation or potentially even benefit. Hippy styles which are popular are really sensitive to O2.

That being said it depends what your aiming for. If you content with a moderately hoppy IPA then bottling as described in the OP will see you well. But if your expectations are high and you want be making IPA's that you can smell from the other side of the room then chances are the bottle bucket wont cut it.

Which brings me to my third point, if the beer is for a party and you are going to empty the keg in one evening then O2 exposure is less of a concern. Even for hoppy beers.

Ultimately is important to understand what O2 does to a beer and keep your expectations and controls appropriate.
 

AMessenger

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On one hand you have a homebrewer's unsubstantiated claims that process "x" reduces O2 exposure and produces a better beer and on the other you have an experiment like this which suggest that some claims about 02's role may be overstated:

http://brulosophy.com/2016/12/19/po...normal-vs-high-oxidation-exbeeriment-results/

Every brewer has to make up their own mind about this stuff but unsubstantiated claims that process "x" is the best don't convince me that my beer would benefit from it.
 
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mattdee1

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I agree with the gist of the OP. I have attempted to make a similar basic point many times on this forum--maybe not specifically about oxygen exposure, but advanced techniques in general.

My point is basically this: it can be fun to nerd out on the nitty-grittiest of nitty-gritty when you're amongst experienced brewers who at least have a chance of understanding the true practical impacts of advanced topics (even if they don't employ the practices,) but when somebody who is clearly a newbie posts a thread with a question, IMO, it is not only counter-productive, but flat out unhelpful to respond with a bunch of "next level" technical babble that probably requires gear and understanding not within reach of the newcomer.

I recall an experiment I did in my first few months in the hobby where I took a small sample of fermented blonde ale on bottling day and intentionally oxygenated the crap out of it--shaking, bubbling, jostling--just so I could educate myself on what oxidation tastes like in a finished beer. I bottled that sample, marked it, and otherwise treated it exactly the same as the rest of the batch. I drank it about 3 months later. It tasted indistinguishable from the rest of the beers that had been handled with more care; I remember I was expecting to take a few sips and dump it, but I ended up quaffing it down like any other because it was fine. Now, maybe that beer would have started to stale if I had stored it longer or if I didn't put it in the fridge fairly early on, or whatever. But the point is, those results tell me it would be incredibly misleading (and unhelpful) to allow a newbie to walk away believing that he needs to guard with his life against oxygen exposure, in order to pull his beer back from the precipice of certain cardboardy wretchedness.
 

Queequeg

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On one hand you have a homebrewer's unsubstantiated claims that process "x" reduces O2 exposure and produces a better beer and on the other you have an experiment like this which suggest that some claims about 02's role may be overstated:

http://brulosophy.com/2016/12/19/po...normal-vs-high-oxidation-exbeeriment-results/

Every brewer has to make up their own mind about this stuff but unsubstantiated claims that process "x" is the best don't convince me that my beer would benefit from it.
The problem with these experiments is none consider shelf life.
 

Queequeg

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Mattdee1. Think another thing that gets conflated is that oxidation and micro oxidation. Not all oxidation produces cardboard or sherry. And again the off flavors that are produced really impact different styles differently.
 

Renegade Brewer

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Oxidation is a huge deal to us to the point where we even try to minimize oxidation on the hot side to much controversy on the topic. On the cold side oxidation is very evident when judging beers on a panel.

It’s not uncommon for us to enter 20 or 30 beers into NHC or club comps which are well over two or three years old. If oxidation were in any of those beers they would not even place.
 

AMessenger

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Oxidation is a huge deal to us to the point where we even try to minimize oxidation on the hot side to much controversy on the topic. On the cold side oxidation is very evident when judging beers on a panel.

It’s not uncommon for us to enter 20 or 30 beers into NHC or club comps which are well over two or three years old. If oxidation were in any of those beers they would not even place.
Or maybe you are claiming a flavor is due to oxygen when it isn't.
 

Renegade Brewer

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According to BJCP, guidelines wet cardboard, paper, stale, wine like are all signs of an oxidized beer. I’ve sat on many panels where beers have exhibited these flavors, and we mark them down for oxidation. The AHA, BA, BJCP, and Brewer’s Guild have determined such off flavors are due to oxidized beer.

I studied quite hard and long to pass my BJCP cert exam as well as make it through the Brewer’s Guild, so I typically take to heart the things they teach and have us tested on.

When we fight so hard on the professional side to minimize things that cause potential off flavors. We also try to introduce those techniques to the homebrewer as well so he or she can make an equally good product as what you can buy. There is no reason any homebrewer can’t produce the same if not better quality product than what we can purchase from our local craft beer store especially with the equipment like blichmann and Ss Brew Tech is putting out and the ingredients we have access to. I try to push each of my customers and students to make a beer that scores higher than the latest GABF winner. Why make good beer when you can make great beer?

Our local club also shares this mentality as well which is why members are encouraged to become judges and begin judging BJCP events. We hold monthly style comps and each member is supposed to brew that style each month at which time the winning beer will be sent to the national BJCP comp.

Learning off flavors and what causes them and more importantly how to avoid them is a huge step toward making award winning beer
 

AMessenger

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According to BJCP, guidelines wet cardboard, paper, stale, wine like are all signs of an oxidized beer. I’ve sat on many panels where beers have exhibited these flavors, and we mark them down for oxidation. The AHA, BA, BJCP, and Brewer’s Guild have determined such off flavors are due to oxidized beer.

I studied quite hard and long to pass my BJCP cert exam as well as make it through the Brewer’s Guild, so I typically take to heart the things they teach and have us tested on.

When we fight so hard on the professional side to minimize things that cause potential off flavors. We also try to introduce those techniques to the homebrewer as well so he or she can make an equally good product as what you can buy. There is no reason any homebrewer can’t produce the same if not better quality product than what we can purchase from our local craft beer store especially with the equipment like blichmann and Ss Brew Tech is putting out and the ingredients we have access to. I try to push each of my customers and students to make a beer that scores higher than the latest GABF winner. Why make good beer when you can make great beer?

Our local club also shares this mentality as well which is why members are encouraged to become judges and begin judging BJCP events. We hold monthly style comps and each member is supposed to brew that style each month at which time the winning beer will be sent to the national BJCP comp.

Learning off flavors and what causes them and more importantly how to avoid them is a huge step toward making award winning beer
To the extent that judging is answering these questions it is valid:
1. Does this beer taste as the style should?
2. Do I like the way it tastes?

The idea that a judge is going to accurately diagnose all the off flavors, accurately correlate those to mistakes in brewing process based on their very limited time with the beer and understanding of how it is made, and provide useful advice is a joke.

Anybody who has brewed a while has heard the common descriptors for signs of oxidation. I'm sure most of us believe we've tasted them (myself included) and speculated that O2 was the culprit. How many people have done honest to goodness tests though? The unscientic claims of 1000 internet experts is worth a lot less than 1 honest test.
 

brewbama

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Thank goodness I don’t brew to please the style Nazi’s idea of what my beer is supposed to taste like or look like or what the starting or finishing gravity should be or anything else. O2 is important...but not fanatically important. In the grand scheme of things it’s pole vaulting over mouse turds. A new brewer has bigger fish to fry. Old brewers just have to make a choice of whether to follow the O2 rainbow or not.
 

Big Monk

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The absolute last thing a new brewer should be doing is trying something like LOB. I’m 100% agreement on that. It is an advanced set of techniques. There are infinitely more important fundamentals to get down pat before considering the effects of hot side oxidation.

Cold side is something that should be on a new brewers radar but even then, there are basic fundamentals and mechanics to master.

If you get your process down to where you are making consistent beers that you enjoy, and you want to start incorporating more technical things like step mashing, break exclusion, etc. then that stuff is always there. If you want to take it a step further and pursue LOB, that stuff is there too when the time comes.

A wise man once told me:

“Low Oxygen brewing is 99% good brewing practices and 1% funny chemicals...”

The point being that a prerequisite is just regular, good ole fashioned consistency and good practices. Fundamentals first, a trip through the weeds after that.
 
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