What Is The One Aspect of Brewing That Is Least Important to Brewing a Good Beer? (In Your Opinion)

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BeerHolic

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Clarity

All other aspects of brewing gets a lot of attention. Over the years I have dialed in my process and turn out great beers, this from friends and family.
For me taste is everything and clarity is at the bottom of the list.
 

LostHopper

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Excessive bag squeezing, dunking, sparging hoping for another tiny drop of "efficiency".
BIAB is supposed to be simple.
If you need more gravity buy a little extra grain or toss a half cup of dme in the boil.
 

scrap iron

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Sparging:
Ounce I found I had room in my mash tun to do full volume. I just add one or two more pounds of grain to make up for lower efficiency. I usually add one gallon of RO water after collecting wort in the kettle to make starters after pressure canning first.
 

Zenmeister

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I find myself mostly agreeing with mongoose33. I believe in the process, and improving the process every time, and the little things do matter, at least for me. So there is very little I would skip, except for one thing...

The mash out at 168-172 for 10 minutes.

I read about it in Palmers book, and was surprised when he said "For most mashes with a ratio of 1.5 to 2 quarts of water per pound of grain, the mash out is not needed." This added 35-45 minutes to my brew day, and I decided to delete it. And I haven't done it since.
 
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mamajack

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I've kind of had it with the recent cult of low oxygen brewing. Insane attachment to every little thing that might possibly introduce oxygen is really not fun plus equipment costs go up. Even darkish ugly hazies taste good, but I've made perfectly yummy WCIPAs without ever having heard the slightest thing about it, and no one died after drinking one! 🤪
 
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Airborneguy

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I've kind of had it with the recent cult of low oxygen brewing. Insane attachment to every little thing that might possibly introduce oxygen is really not fun plus equipment costs go up. Even darkish ugly hazies taste good, but I've made perfectly yummy WCIPAs without ever having heard tbe slightest thing about it, and no one died after drinking one! 🤪
It’s because of the hazies that excessive low-oxygen has become a thing. I brew “normal” beers and have never once had a judge or friend detect oxidation in my beers. I don’t take any precautions against oxidation beyond minimizing unnecessary contact with air. Never had a problem.
 

dmtaylor

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It’s because of the hazies that excessive low-oxygen has become a thing.
LODO became a thing outside of hazies. LODO involves worship of old German brewing textbooks that cost hundreds of dollars each. LODO stays a thing because it actually does something to the wort and probably the finished beer. Whether that something actually matters is what I and many continue to be skeptical about, because we know that outstanding beer can be made without applying any LODO principles.
 
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Five years from now, the word "LODO" may be nothing more than a "footnote" in home brewing history.

About 18 to 24 months ago, I started to see a 'next generation' of home brewers who were curious about the low cost techniques and ingredients for slowing down staling. Some of them publish recipes that included detailed process notes. Their beers speak of the successes (and the 'nothing changed this time') from their attempts.
 

day_trippr

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fwiw - and at this hour my 11% stout is holding court...

As I recall the history-to-date of the evolving appreciation of O2 wrt brewing began with the debates about HSA that stuck around for years (now decades) with the likes of Coors documenting the issues, approaches and results, in a convincing manner as related by respected "home brewing authors" as Papazian. That said, the fray did focus on the hot side - I don't recall much attention being paid to the back-end, and I would 100% agree that the New England IPA almost single-handedly brought cold-side oxidation to the fore - probably because an O2-attacked NEIPA looks undrinkably fugly 🤢

Cheers!
 

beren

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Least important is clear wort into the fermenter. Much time, money, and wasted wort spent trying to reach that goal. Eventually I realized I was just chasing my tail and threw it all in the fermenter which made no difference in my finished beer.

I run mine through a mash bag but I also put pretty much all liquid into it. If I kept an extra quart or 2 out it would be pretty crystal clear with only a 20 minute sit after chilling no bag needed
 
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beren

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I agree with this as well. Once the starches/sugars have been converted and in solution/suspension theres is really no reason to continue with heated water. Its just a rinse.
But your heating it no matter what, before the rinse, or after. Hotter water for sparge gives you faster time to hit boil with the wort. Might as well preheat while the mash is going on and have a shorter brew day.
 

beren

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I already responded but want to add ‘exact brands of ingredients’.

I sub Carafa for Choc, Cara whatever for Crystal whatever, Victory for Biscuit, Carapils for Carafoam, Melanoidin for Aromatic, etc, etc. I get whatever the local health food store corner shelf has on it.

I have even substituted 2-row for Pils with good results. Blasphemy I know.
It’s similar but different. Doesn’t mean it’s bad to sub it’ll just be different. Malts Chart
 

beren

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Precisely measuring ingredients. Being in the ballpark is important, but having exactly 1lb of Vienna or whatever isn't. Precise mash temp isn't everything, either.
See I’m the opposite. I measure to the gram and record it. If it’s the best tasting beer I ever made, I have detailed notes. If it’s worse than the last batch, I can see what I changed.

I’d like to add I always forget something every brew. Mostly it’s something simple like Irish moss. Once it was the spices for my wit (added to the fermenter instead and while not bad, way better in the boil.) I need documentation to keep me straight.
 
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seatazzz

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Ok I'll add another one; final gravity reading. Unless I'm using a yeast I'm not familiar with (which happens maybe a couple times a year) I know when a beer is done, just based on past experience with said yeast/fermentation temperature. If it tastes like beer, it's done. I do always take an OG reading but I'm not too fussed on the final. I've never had a beer finish below 1.009 no matter what yeast I use. That could also speak to my impatience....
 

Red over White

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fwiw - and at this hour my 11% stout is holding court...

As I recall the history-to-date of the evolving appreciation of O2 wrt brewing began with the debates about HSA that stuck around for years (now decades) with the likes of Coors documenting the issues, approaches and results, in a convincing manner as related by respected "home brewing authors" as Papazian. That said, the fray did focus on the hot side - I don't recall much attention being paid to the back-end, and I would 100% agree that the New England IPA almost single-handedly brought cold-side oxidation to the fore - probably because an O2-attacked NEIPA looks undrinkably fugly 🤢

Cheers!
It's Charlie's fault!

-----‐‐‐------------------------------------‐---------‐-----------------

Sierra Nevada is just one example of a modern low oxygen brewhouse that finds the time and energy worth it from before mashing, all the way to bottle conditioning of their hop forward ales. I have to agree that their beers taste great and age remarkably well. I don't think that's an accident.
 
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Sierra Nevada is just one example of a modern low oxygen brewhouse that finds the time and energy worth it from before mashing, all the way to bottle conditioning of their hop forward ales. I have to agree that their beers taste great and age remarkably well. I don't think that's an accident.
It's what they need to do to keep their beer from going stale under less than idea conditions.

And if their techniques scale down to the "home brew" level, it's a good thing for many us as well.
 

wsmith1625

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I run mine through a mash bag but I also put pretty much all liquid into it. If I kept an extra quart or 2 out it would be pretty crystal clear with only a 20 minute sit after chilling no bag needed
Yeah, tried that with a second Wilser bag I hag laying around. The thing plugged up quickly and filled up like a water balloon. What seemed like a good idea nearly ruined my brew day. In concept it's a good idea and with the right bag it will work. It's just not worth the effort IMO
 

beren

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Yeah, tried that with a second Wilser bag I hag laying around. The thing plugged up quickly and filled up like a water balloon. What seemed like a good idea nearly ruined my brew day. In concept it's a good idea and with the right bag it will work. It's just not worth the effort IMO
If you let it sit for 20min and used Irish moss or something in the boil, it should only fill up at the very end. I pickup the bottom of the bag and while the wort is cloudy, about half the liquid drains out and I put the rest in the sink I should prolly just leave it in the pot but I try to use every clean drop :)
 

eric19312

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complicated recipes that are long on ingredients and short on explanation of techniques

I find home brewing literature puts too much emphasis on recipes and not enough on technique. Sure if you try to make a batch with all caramel malt or 50% roasted wheat that is gonna make some weird beer but when I see a recipe with 9 different malts and 16-20 different hop additions I groan.

I think my beer improves more by sticking to simple recipes and working to fine tune my process, focusing I suppose on a lot of the issues others in this thread have indicated are not that important. Water chemistry is big. Ingredient quality is big. Running a a quality fermentation including enough healthy yeast is big. Whirlpooling and dry hopping techniques can make as much of an impact than which hops you use.
 

beren

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While I agree there’s a lot of missing details I’ve never seen a recipe like that. But then I don’t route trendy IPAs/RIS either.
 

slurms

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I know most people don't seem to like this approach. They want the answer to brewing great beer now, with less effort, and want to collect the accolades of others in response to their creation.
That's true. A lot of people not willing to learn the process and want immediate satisfaction. Brewing doesn't work like that.

One thing I can think of is that while the fancy stuff might make some stuff a bit easier, it doesn't make your beer any better. Learn the process first and then think about your upgrades.

I brewed a Little Wolf clone (Zero Gravity Brewing)
Also, I've been looking to find a recipe for this beer, it's a good one. Do you mind sharing? Or have you posted it somewhere?
 

mongoose33

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Also, I've been looking to find a recipe for this beer (Little Wolf), it's a good one. Do you mind sharing? Or have you posted it somewhere?

Glad to. A lot of my success in brewing is due to this site, and what I've learned here. Gotta give back.

I'm attaching my notes page from this recipe, but be forewarned: my process is very different from what almost anyone else uses, but you should be in the ballpark, if not the right section, row and seat number.

I do a variation of low-oxygen brewing, pre-boiling the strike water then chilling down to strike temp, using a mash cap, crushing grain just before dough-in, underletting, and trying to purge hoses with CO2 (that sorta works :) ), and using single-infusion, i.e., no sparging.

I use a RIMs to control my mash temps. I start at about 145 degrees for about 20 minutes, then bump it up to 155 degrees.

My starter is WL-001, but when I do a starter I use yeast nutrient as part of that starter and I will oxygenate the starter wort after chilling it down to where I pitch the yeast. When I pitch into the fermenter, the entire 1-liter starter goes in, and I try to time it so that I pitch about 15 hours after beginning the starter. That, IMO, helps the yeast get going faster.

[And BTW, it's not in the notes, but I oxygenated the wort in the fermenter prior to pitching.]

For strike water I used:
1 gallon of tap water which is fairly hard
7 gallons of RO water
5gr CACL2
5gr MgSO4
2gr CASO4
1gr BrewtanB
1 crushed Campden tablet
2 ML of Lactic Acid.

The grain bill is
9# Maris Otter
1# Crystal C20
2# Munich
12 oz Quick Oats (for oatmeal).

For people who sparge, this is a lot of fermentables and would have to be cut down to maintain a mid-range ABV.

The hop bill is
60 min--4 ml Hop Shot (substitute a moderate bittering hop if you don't use those)
15 min--1 ounce each of Cascade and Citra
0 min--1 ounce of Citra
1 ounce Mosaic as a dry hop.

Also at 15 min--1 Whilfloc tablet

At yeast pitch into the fermenter, add 1 vial of ClarityFerm. ZeroGravity said they used this as part of working on mouthfeel, not to make the beer gluten-free. So you get a low-gluten beer as part of the bargain.

Fermentation temperature was 67 degrees, bumped up to 71 at the end to give the yeast a chance to finish and maybe clean up after themselves..

You can see from the attached file the progress of the fermentation. I use a Tilt Hydrometer to keep track (measured by refractometer 1.056, tilt said 1.055).

Tilts are expensive, but once I started seeing how to use them, well, I consider it almost indispensible. My fermenter is a Spike CF10 (this is a 5-gallon batch), and I can close it up to do pressure fermenting. I will close it up with approximately 6-8 points of gravity remaining in the fermentation and let it naturally carbonate--and the Tilt is how I can tell when I'm there.

You can see from the notes that I dropped the 1 ounce of Mosaic 4 days after pitch. I use one of the no-oxygen dry hop dropping methods we developed here a couple years ago, so the pellets are purged of O2 before being dropped.

And then: crash it to about 36 degrees and then keg it.

NOTES: This turned out GREAT. I thought it rivaled the Little Wolf beer I had at Zero Gravity. All of it was educated guesses and hopes, as while Zero Gravity published their ingredients, they didn't say how much, what yeast, ferm temps, or dry hop schedule. So I improvised and I'm happy with the result.

I thought at the time that it might stand to be just a touch sweeter, so in a subsequent batch I added an extra 8 ounces of C20, and used flaked oats instead of Quick Oats. It *was* a touch sweeter, but guess what? Even though my neighbor liked it better, I did not. It was good as it was. The slightly sweeter version was still good, but future versions will revert.

Any questions about this, feel free to ask.





1682132617656.jpeg
 
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chthon

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Hi all!
I always like reading about brewing and different techniques/ ideas.
I had a question for the HB Forum crowd.
If you had to give up control of one (only one) aspect of the brewing process, what would it be?
ie: ability to control the quality and pH of your water [emoji97]? The ability to control the temperature of your fermentation? The ability to whirlpool or sparge? The ability to control the temp or your mash?
What would you give up, but feel you’d still be able to make good beer?
Interested in what people find least or, conversely, most important in their brewing process.
The things you mention are the process, and are the most important parts.

The part that is for me least concern of the brewing process, is actually the kit. I brew using household implements and (food safe) plastic buckets. What do I have in addition, that can not be missed:
  • a pH meter, because my recipes are always different. If you always brew a couple of the same beers, one could dispense with that
  • A grain mill. Because here on the European continent there are no (not much?) shops where ground malt can be ordered.
  • An RO filter, because our water here contains too much carbonates and does not have proper balanced minerals for beer.
I actually dispense with electronic temperature control, because I don't have the place for such a system. I choose a room with a relatively constant temperature and use that. Also try to use yeasts that are appropriate for this.
 

Saunassa

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I have not made a starter in the 5 years I have been brewing. Then again I don't do lagers. My sparge water, whether a dunk sparge biab or pouring sparge water in the mash tube in my Anvil is just water I heated in the microwave a few minutes so it is hot vs room temp.
 

Paulo Jurza

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The things you mention are the process, and are the most important parts.

The part that is for me least concern of the brewing process, is actually the kit. I brew using household implements and (food safe) plastic buckets. What do I have in addition, that can not be missed:
  • a pH meter, because my recipes are always different. If you always brew a couple of the same beers, one could dispense with that
  • A grain mill. Because here on the European continent there are no (not much?) shops where ground malt can be ordered.
  • An RO filter, because our water here contains too much carbonates and does not have proper balanced minerals for beer.
I actually dispense with electronic temperature control, because I don't have the place for such a system. I choose a room with a relatively constant temperature and use that. Also try to use yeasts that are appropriate for this.
Here in Brasil almost all shops ground malts for irrisory ou null prices...
I do not use a pH meter because it is dispensable in my batch sizes...
I use a black charcoal filter only to hold the chlorine of the tap water and some sort of impurities (and use 4 drops of Vitamin C to kill the rest of chlorine)
And I must have a fridge or a kegerator to ferment, because temperatures could reach up 30 degrees Celsius at noon and 15 at night generating too much esterification... When I started to use the controlled temperature my beers rised up several grades of approval... :cask:
 

Paulo Jurza

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How? You have to get it all up to boiling eventually one way or the other.
When we pour the sparge water it always got colder than before - so it will be needed to heat it up again... And there is a lot of water absorption in the grains that will stay with your pre-heated water... No heating the sparge water reduces the loss - my grains end up colder than before, so I don´t loose this heat to the thrash. At the end of the story, I prefer this way, because I don´t have to find room to heat water before the sparge - I live at an apartment. Of course if I´ll brew 1000 liters, I will heat up the sparge water... But in a facility other than my tiny kitchen....:)
 

mac_1103

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When we pour the sparge water it always got colder than before - so it will be needed to heat it up again.
This is, at best, a negligible difference. All the water has to get to 100C/212F. Heat it now or heat it later. Just don't heat it any higher than your mash temp if you want to save that little bit of energy.

OTOH, lots of people prefer use the time while they're mashing to heat the sparge water so it doesn't take as long to get the whole thing up to boiling.
 

Ninoid

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Here in Brasil almost all shops ground malts for irrisory ou null prices...
I do not use a pH meter because it is dispensable in my batch sizes...
I use a black charcoal filter only to hold the chlorine of the tap water and some sort of impurities (and use 4 drops of Vitamin C to kill the rest of chlorine)
And I must have a fridge or a kegerator to ferment, because temperatures could reach up 30 degrees Celsius at noon and 15 at night generating too much esterification... When I started to use the controlled temperature my beers rised up several grades of approval... :cask:

You can use Saison or Kveik yeast for this temperatures.
 

chthon

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Here in Brasil almost all shops ground malts for irrisory ou null prices...
I do not use a pH meter because it is dispensable in my batch sizes...
I use a black charcoal filter only to hold the chlorine of the tap water and some sort of impurities (and use 4 drops of Vitamin C to kill the rest of chlorine)
And I must have a fridge or a kegerator to ferment, because temperatures could reach up 30 degrees Celsius at noon and 15 at night generating too much esterification... When I started to use the controlled temperature my beers rised up several grades of approval... :cask:
So some of these process things are even geographically related.
 
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