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What is the one best change you've made to upgrade your beer quality?

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danielthemaniel

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Hello Everyone,

I've been trying to figure out what the next tweak or change I should make in my brewing to take my beers up another notch. This got me wondering what other brewers have done that has made the biggest difference in their quality of beer?
 

MrPowers

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After:
-Going all grain (using the freshest ingredients possible)
-Switching to kegging
-Implementing Active Fermentation temperature control (ie. A freezer, glycol, etc...)
-learning water chemistry
-pitching active healthy yeast (starters)

The thing that helped the quality of my beer most was going full Lodo. Keep the fermenter closed, do closed transfers, keep cold side Oxidation to a minimum, spund or keg prime. Then work as hard as you can to prevent HSA.
 

bracconiere

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i don't belong here, but i'll say it anyway for fun....lowering my sparge temp to 160f, so i didn't get tannins.....
 

fun4stuff

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Kegging probably doesn’t help taste much but is probably where to put you’re money. I wouldn’t be in the hobby still if i was stuck bottling. It saves so much time and just has that cool factor.

Switching to BIAB probably doesn’t affect taste, but like kegging just up’d efficiency and ease of brewing...
And it’s cheap, so easy change to make. I would not be an all grain brewer without it.

After those things, water chemistry and controlling mash pH probably most important for taste. Beer is mostly just water, after all.

Closed transfers so you never have to expose beer to air post fermentation. This is also very important for improving taste.

————

Way down the line after these things are things like fermentation temperature control, vitality starters or pitching appropriate amount of yeast, keg priming/spunding, etc.
 

RPh_Guy

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Beer is the sum of its parts.

These things make the largest impact:
  • Using fresh ingredients
  • Oxidation prevention (doesn't have to be kegging)
  • Fermentation temperature control
  • Sanitation
  • Water mineral and pH adjustments
  • Proper yeast management including starters
@MrPowers pretty much nailed it.
 

micraftbeer

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1. All grain.
2. Water (knowing what I'm starting with and adding brewing salts to hit a target profile).
3. Mash pH.
4. Closed transfers from fermentor into purged kegs (at least for hoppy beers).
 

Alex4mula

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I started right away keging with closed transfer and ferm temp control. Going all grain crushing my grains and water chemistry made a big difference.
 

PianoMan

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Fermentation Temperature control. Significantly helped with the "Home Brew" taste. Water Chemistry next. I used RO and re-mineralize. I think Cold Crashing pre kegging also helps with the long term.
 

NitrogenWidget

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Ferm temp control is when it got really good.
Basement floor in the summer just wasn't cutting it.
 

booth74

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Water/ph can be a significant change depending on the styles you like. A lot of the above are great items to consider, I'd focus on pitch rates and yeast health, almost any of my dumps can be traced back to yeast health rather than recipe. I also think being critical of your beer and having others (qualified) tasting your beer giving you feedback is important too.
 

Rodent

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my most notable improvement came when addressing fermentation temperature control. I gained consistency from one 'identical' brew to the next, and eliminated many off flavors caused when fermentation temps climbed out of control

other key changes made over the course of two years that also had significant impacts: moving to all-grain, sanitation, water chemistry, and pressure transfers into CO2 purged starsan-filled kegs.
 

SteveHeff

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It was never just one thing that vastly improved my beer quality. Every step of the process has some effect on the beer. Controlled fermentation temps, mash temps and pH, water profile, yeast starters, and oxygenating my wort have all played a role in improving the beer. I would say the best bang for buck improvements are temp control and pitching enough yeast. After that, you can tinker as much as you want.
 

jtrux

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1. Temperature control
2. Switching from extract to all grain biab. I don’t know why it took me so long to make the switch, only min investment, not nearly as intimidating as I thought and cheaper in the long run
3. Using liquid yeast. Well slightly unfair, switched to biab and liquid yeast at the same time. I really like Wlp-940.
 

friarsmith

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Water adjustments, temp controlled fermentation, switching to all grain, and not getting loopy on homebrew during brew days and kegging/bottling days.
 

Brew_Dude41

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Biggest impact and lowest cost was filtering my city water and adding a campden tablet to my water the night before brewing to eliminate chlorine.
Then came temp control for fermentation.
Other things made incremental improvements but those 2 were the biggest in order of impact (was temp controlling long before I started filtering my water).

Just made the jump to a 3 vessel electric system so know it is a whole new process to tune in.
 

grampamark

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The only single change I can think of that made a significant improvement was going from extract to all grain eight years ago. Since then, improvement has come from developing a consistent, easily repeatable process, which I attribute to brewing about half a dozen favorite recipes over and over. Becoming consistent and patient made more difference than anything else.
 

Beer Viking

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After I try all of the beer kits that I want to try, I'm going to start adding hops. I can't wait to see what that will end up making! Also at some point I want to try brewing from raw ingredients instead of a beer kit.
 
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danielthemaniel

danielthemaniel

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Thank you all for the responses. I heard a lot of what I anticipated. I'm currently all grain, I had ward labs do an analysis on my tap water and adjust and dilute with RO water to hit target profiles, I have 2 fermentation chambers for temp controlled fermentations and I try to get the highest quality of ingredients that I can. I also have a rule of no drinking before the timer on the boil starts.

The one take away that I was planning on instituting on my brew starting Wednesday is to do closed transfers. I have had too many brews taste world class out of the fermenter only to end up very good once kegged. I assume this is my next step.

Thoughts?
 

rickwho

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I upgraded to a Grainfather and started adjusting Ph of mash. Efficiency went from about 70% to 85%.

Since I live in Florida and don't have a fermentation fridge/freeze, I have been unable to brew a lager. But I did get a BrewJacket Immersion Pro as a gift and gave it a try. It still can't cool to a low enough temperature, even with house kept at 72. Gonna be interesting to see how the dunkel I'm fermenting turns out. So I guess next upgrade needs to be a fridge/freezer for fermentation temperature control.
 

thehaze

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Pitch rate, fermentation temperature, mash and post-boil pH and trying to minimize oxygen exposure. Of course, other things can help a bit, if you know what you want from a beer, but those could prove less important than the aforementioned factors.
 

kevin58

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First was buying a grain mill. Next was fermentation temperature control.
 

Jim R

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The water chemistry part is pretty cheap and easy. It costs me about $10 to switch to jugs of bottled water from the local store ($4 per 4 gal jug). The bottled water company has their water chemistry profile online which saved doing an expensive comprehensive water test on my home water. All my bottled water needed was 1 gram of Calcium Sulphate (gypsum) per gallon which is also cheap and easy. I now brew with near perfect water by simply hauling a few jugs of water home from the store.
 

Bilsch

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When I realized HSA is not a myth and that the little things do matter.
 

specialkayme

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The one take away that I was planning on instituting on my brew starting Wednesday is to do closed transfers. I have had too many brews taste world class out of the fermenter only to end up very good once kegged. I assume this is my next step.

Thoughts?
Reducing cold side oxidation is the one improvement area that I haven't been able to reliably, safely and cheaply implement. All other areas of improvement were cheap and easy (typically under $20 and instant, like water chemistry, overbuilt yeast starters, or BIAB, for example), or moderately costly an easy (typically around $100, like a grain mill or a fermentation chamber). But cold side oxidation has been more difficult for me.

I brew out of glass carboys (I love the history with them). To pressure transfer from one to a keg requires some skill and danger. I use a sterile syphon (https://www.morebeer.com/products/s...AH0VGe0rohFNG2UjwhIRY3aPgQLNwuCRoCbxsQAvD_BwE), and attach a car cap where the air inlet filter goes (https://www.morebeer.com/products/carbonation-line-cleaning-ball-lock-cap-stainless.html). It enables me to slowly insert co2 from a tank (at around 1 or 2 psi) to pressure transfer the beer from the carboy to a starsan and co2 purged keg.

It has improved things considerably for me, but it's no way from perfect. Putting a glass carboy under pressure (even 1 or 2 psi) is very dangerous, and I hate doing it. It also doesn't solve the cold side oxidation issues that occur when I open it up to check the final gravity. Plus it isn't a perfect pressure transfer.

The solution for me will be getting either a Spike Flex+ or a CF5. But they come with some big price tags that I'm having a hard time justifying.
 

kingmatt

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I had to dump my second batch ever today because I got lazy with my pitch rate (I didn't make a starter) and temp control (my ferm chamber is occupied and fermentation temps got up to the upper 70s) resulting in an undrinkable fusel/phenolic mess. Lesson learned.
 
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