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Tips you would like to have known when you first started brewing?

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Scottsdale

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Conditioning my grain before milling. Makes a huge difference on my efficiency and almost eliminates stuck sparge with my false bottom
 

UncleD

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TOOL
Refractometer. Easy to take SG reads during the boil and make sure you're on target for your OG.

SOFTWARE
I built my own app for doing calculations, storing recipes, brew log notes, and timers during brew day. Regardless of what you use, use SOMETHING to document your readings, calcs, and recipes.

TIME MANAGEMENT
I have reduced the overall length of my brew day by organizing my tasks better. Don't worry about pulling stuff out that you wont be using for a couple hours. If you are done with something for the day, clean it and put it away while you're still brewing. Don't wait until the end to clean EVERYTHING. There's alot of downtime, so use that time to not add too much time to the beginning or end of the brew day.

RECIPE CHANGES
Early on, if there was something I didn't like about a recipe, I'd try to change a bunch of factors. Unfortunately, this make it impossible to correlate your changes to your next beer. Try to only change 1 or 2 things, whether it be process-related or ingredients.
 

JimC

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Simple is better
Make beers that don't let you hide process issues. Your first beers should be APAs, Bitters, Blonds with simple 2-4 grain/1-3hop recipes so you can build a process and pallet. Do not make kitchen skin beers, 160IBU hop monsters or 10% coma inducing drunk bombs. You will be unable to detect problems in these sorts of beers.

Do not forget the cold side
Wort is made in the kettle. Beer is made in the fermenter. Pay attention to your fermentation and yeast. Don't spend your whole budget on the shinny stainless hot side with all the electronics or roaring propane. Budget some for fermentation, even if it just a few sheets of foam board, ice and a thermometer.
 

jrgtr42

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THere's some great tips here - I almost think this should be a sticky at the top for all beginning brewers.
At the risk of repeating some things, things i have picked up:
Relax, Don't Worry, Have a HomeBrew. (RDWHAHB) Honestly, there's not a lot you can do to truly ruin your beer. It may not come out perfectly, but it;ll be beer and you can drink it.
The other biggest things to remember in brewing are: Santation, yeast health / Happiness, sanitation, temperature control, sanitation, and sanitation.
Don't worry about having to go to all grain or whatever, or needing the latest and greatest shiny toy. You can make great beer with extract in buckets if the rest is on spot.
Your first few brews may not be perfect, or commercial quality - don't get frustrated - it takes time to work in your procedures, and it will get better, I promise. On that line, I recommend that at least for the first couple brews, use a pre-made kit, and resist the urge to modify it. Those are designed to be easy and give good results. Taking a regular stout, and adding coffee, vanilla, breakfast cereal and bourbon on a first brew isn't going to give a good result.
 

TkmLinus

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Are you using the paint strainer bag in front or behind the siphon? Just wrapping it around the intake?
I put the paint straining bag into the bottling bucket, then siphon into it. Lift out the bag with all hop particles and whatever else when done. I tried with a bag on the suction end of the siphon and it was a big pain.
 

Beer Viking

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This! I always fill above any spigots with water to check for leaks, water is much cheaper than whatever you are brewing.
Thankfully I read about this before I tried to make my first all grain batch! I had to reassemble my boil kettle 4 times to get it water tight. Last night it held all the water I put into it for 90 mins without a leak. Moving on to the next step now!
 

deuc224

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Buy base grains in bulk. It may suck at first but just opt to buy a 50 or 55 pound sack of base grains, the money you save over a small length of time is really substantial. I buy MO, 2 row, wheat, pils all in bulk and it really beats having to wait to get something in or going to the brew store to get what i need every single time.
 

WeirdoWines

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The importance of sanitization and also the necessity of a hydrometer. I'm a cheap mofo but just spend the money on necessary brewing equipment because you'll pay more money throwing out ruined attempts at brews and waste slot of your time too
 

iamninjabob

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I wish someone had told me that yeast produces it's own heat when actively fermenting.
 

deuc224

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I wish someone had told me that yeast produces it's own heat when actively fermenting.
Me too!!!!!!! I had a big starter neipa run into the high 70s from low 60s in a day and didnt know what was going on until i read up on it.
 

Cloud Surfer

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Buy a few quality cleaning and sanitising products specifically made for brewing.

I’ve kept notes on every beer I’ve made and find it invaluable to check back when refining recipes or processes.

Use a bottling tree for cleaning and sanitising bottles. It’s amazing how such a simple device makes the bottling process so much easier.

I’m a newish brewer myself, but have spent hundreds of hours reading everything I could find over the interweb and in books. I feel like my knowledge is well advanced and the experience level is catching up quick.

Of everything I’ve read, it is apparent the most repeatable mistake new brewers make is not pitching enough yeast.

I can identify a few things that have had the biggest impact on improving my beer. Understanding recipe construction and the relationship between FG, IBU and ABV and how they create a balanced beer. Buying a temperature controlled Grainfather conical fermenter with pressure transfer kit. Buying a CO2 kit and kegs so I can pressure transfer from fermenter to conditioning kegs or bottling kegs in a low oxygen environment.
 

khannon

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Tips I wish I had known:
My god it's easy to spend money.. Get a few under your belt.. then think about what you need.. Then "buy once, cry once" if you can, if not, "buy, make beer, figure out what you need, sell on craigslist for more than you paid, buy what you need(/think you need) .

Fermentation temp control is huge, probably more impact/$$ than any other starting step.

Clean/sanitary is more important to have down before the temp control, but a lot less expensive.

Pre world gone to ****(and maybe post), find a brewery you like, talk to the brewer. Let them know you brew. If they are assholes, move to another brewery you like. When you find one that is decent, start a conversation/relationship. Most brewers are decent people, They are dealing on larger scales, but most started out where you are. Advice/bulk grain purchases/a sounding board to bring a beer in for trial for an opinion is invaluable.

Talk here, there is wisdom even if you have to filter through BS(like mine).

There are all sorts of tricks out there to save you time or money or? Figure out what is important to you. Start there, ask questions, have fun(a homebrew), but don't get paralyzed by what you think you need, make a beer or two on the minimal equipment, sell it and buy what you need.

Final thought of the night, CO2 and pumps make life a lot easir on those who are "lifting challenged".. incorporating these into the brew day(and beyond) makes life so much easier on those of us who no longer desire to lift 10 gallons of wort/beer however far we have to.. it is now just "transfer"

Out before the beer kicks in more..
 

V-Fib

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Make sure your valves are closed before anything. You normally catch it fast but it really sucks if you dont.
 

youngdh

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Clean and sanitize like it’s the end of the world including disassembling spouts/ valves that the cooled wort will contact. Replace vinyl tubing that cooled wort will contact about every six months or if it looks scratched/etched. Try to hit your volumes and SG through all phases of brewing if you want to hit your recipe targets in your final product. Sometimes you may have to trade off target volume to SG or visa versa. Grain absorption and boil off rates will be your biggest variable in this balancing act.
 

Reneauj62

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A good amount of people go through the stages of brewing: 1) Mr Beer or similar, 2) Extract Brewing, 3) Partial Mash, 4) Turkey fryer, 5) Grainfather or other coffee urn style All-in-one units and finally 6) a top-notch, top quality Brewing system (I wont mention names in order to eliminate arguments). What I would like to have known when I first started brewing? After I for sure I liked this hobby..... I wish I would have bought the top system and forgone the fermenting buckets, carboys and cheap fermenters. While a top of the line equipment does not make the brewer, it may help and certainly not hurt...
 

Snuffy

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A good amount of people go through the stages of brewing: 1) Mr Beer or similar, 2) Extract Brewing, 3) Partial Mash, 4) Turkey fryer, 5) Grainfather or other coffee urn style All-in-one units and finally 6) a top-notch, top quality Brewing system (I wont mention names in order to eliminate arguments). What I would like to have known when I first started brewing? After I for sure I liked this hobby..... I wish I would have bought the top system and forgone the fermenting buckets, carboys and cheap fermenters. While a top of the line equipment does not make the brewer, it may help and certainly not hurt...
When you move on from that Unibrau I’ll give you 500 bucks for it.😉
 

Tobor_8thMan

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Go 97 miles and take a right...
If you tell your friends and relatives you brew, then you will not have any or you will have very little for yourself. Best advice, when asked "How did your homebrewing turn out?". Reply, "It was awful. I had to dump it!" (laughing to oneself).

Recently I visit relatives and relative says to me "I thought maybe you'd bring some of your beer.". I replied, "This is your house. It's up to you to supply the beer. Visit me and I have my beer." Nothing like being taken for granted...
 

Zymurologist

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Don't add hard fruit (cut up apples) to your primary at the beginning, unless you want to be up in the wee hours cleaning the wort off the ceiling and walls, was just lucky that the chunks were small enough to blast through the air-lock once the pressure overcame the obstruction. That was a rough night.
 
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