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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: BananaSlug on February 08, 2018, 12:15:19 AM

Title: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 08, 2018, 12:15:19 AM
 Howdy folks,

    I have not as of yet brewed, but I am hoping to get started in the next month or two. I love great beer of most styles, although I have become somewhat turned off at the prevalence of crazy bitter and overhopped, mostly pale ales, that seem to be so popular in my area. Hard to beat a great pils, a fine creamy stout or porter....heck, I just like great beer :D

  I'm a craftsman in other disciplines, and I have really no interest in extract brewing, not knocking those that do, it's just not suited for my temperament being as how I like to do things from scratch as far as possible. I'd like to jump right in to all-grain brewing, whether BIAB or more conventional methods I haven't decided. One thing I'm curious about, is what beers are "easier" for a novice to brew, and what beers might be better left to a brewer with some seasoning under his belt? For the near future, I won't be kegging, but will bottle my liquid treasure when the time comes. Anyhow, glad to be here and I look forward to learning from you folks
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: coolman26 on February 08, 2018, 12:21:13 AM
I would send a sample of your water to Ward Labs. Get your water report and brew the style that matches your water profile. When I started, I tried to brew yellow and hoppy. I got not good. I brewed black and creamy and it matched my tap perfectly.
That is my $.02


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Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: coolman26 on February 08, 2018, 12:22:39 AM
I should have started with welcome to the Club, glad you stopped by.


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Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 08, 2018, 12:26:06 AM
 I've wondered about this very issue. Most of the answers I've received have been, "If your water tastes good, it'll make good beer", which kinda felt like a non-answer. Do you have a general rundown of what water types are best suited for certain beers? I keep tropical fish, and I'm pretty familiar with my local water chemistry.


I would send a sample of your water to Ward Labs. Get your water report and brew the style that matches your water profile. When I started, I tried to brew yellow and hoppy. I got not good. I brewed black and creamy and it matched my tap perfectly.
That is my $.02


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Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: Robert on February 08, 2018, 12:28:53 AM
Welcome BananaSlug!  You are in the right place.  (And hey everybody, who was worried about getting new blood in the hobby and the forum?) The main thing I would recommend is not so much a style as an approach.  Figure out what kind of equipment and process you can manage, simply, without tripping over yourself.  It doesn't have to be perfect at first. Then pick a style you really enjoy and want to stick with for a while, and find a simple recipe.  Then brew that repeatedly until it comes out the same every time. Then you will know you are able to produce predictable results in your system.  You will have some idea of how changing x affects y.  That's the time to start branching out to try new styles and consider refining your home brewery.  But whatever you do, make sure you're having fun.  Don't stress.  "Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew!"
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: Robert on February 08, 2018, 12:32:19 AM
I've wondered about this very issue. Most of the answers I've received have been, "If your water tastes good, it'll make good beer", which kinda felt like a non-answer. Do you have a general rundown of what water types are best suited for certain beers? I keep tropical fish, and I'm pretty familiar with my local water chemistry.


I would send a sample of your water to Ward Labs. Get your water report and brew the style that matches your water profile. When I started, I tried to brew yellow and hoppy. I got not good. I brewed black and creamy and it matched my tap perfectly.
That is my $.02


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For all you need to know about water go to th e Bru'n Water website. The Water Knowledge page will school you, and when you want to go more advanced there's a spreadsheet to help you adjust your Water chemistry.   But for now just learn what water does.

EDIT If you get your water from a municipal supply you can get an report from the water department that will be fairly representative.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 08, 2018, 12:59:41 AM
 Thanks! Gives me something to research. I'm familiar with our local water report, and according to my local fish store, it's pretty accurate and representative of their own tests.

I've wondered about this very issue. Most of the answers I've received have been, "If your water tastes good, it'll make good beer", which kinda felt like a non-answer. Do you have a general rundown of what water types are best suited for certain beers? I keep tropical fish, and I'm pretty familiar with my local water chemistry.


I would send a sample of your water to Ward Labs. Get your water report and brew the style that matches your water profile. When I started, I tried to brew yellow and hoppy. I got not good. I brewed black and creamy and it matched my tap perfectly.
That is my $.02


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

For all you need to know about water go to th e Bru'n Water website. The Water Knowledge page will school you, and when you want to go more advanced there's a spreadsheet to help you adjust your Water chemistry.   But for now just learn what water does.

EDIT If you get your water from a municipal supply you can get an report from the water department that will be fairly representative.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BrewBama on February 08, 2018, 01:12:56 AM
Welcome aboard.  Good advice above.  I’d simply add: whatever you decide, use a tried and true recipe out of the gate.  It doesn’t have to be complicated to produce a nice brew.


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Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 08, 2018, 02:31:05 AM
The Bru’water knowledge page. The Bru’water knowledge page. The Bru’water knowledge page.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: ynotbrusum on February 08, 2018, 02:36:42 AM
I am one who was worried about new blood - so Welcome!  Brew the beers you like.  If they require some special touch, then apply it as the members here set it out.  Usually RO or relatively soft water works best for the pale styles.  pH is something to watch, but the water gurus can dial you in readily.  As I sit here tonight, I am comparing my Helles to Wehenstephaner Original and I prefer mine.  Not bragging, just saying what you can achieve with a bit of trial and retrial.  Cheers and best of luck to you.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: lalla on February 08, 2018, 04:01:36 AM
Welcome aboard. I joined today also and it looks like I joined an hour or so earlier so I am no longer the Newbie!  ;)

I have been brewing for almost 4 years now so still a bit of a brewing newbie compared to many here so looking forward to learning more about this great hobby.

 I've done 3 vessel All Grain for most of that time and in the past year I've gone to single vessel BIAB to incorporate LODO techniques. I understand that LODO might be a bit taboo here but making my best beer ever since incorporating many of the recommended techniques.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: trubgerg on February 08, 2018, 04:15:12 AM
I'd suggest starting with all grain recipe kits from a homebrew shop... either online or local.  That's how I figured out what I could brew that tasted good with my tap water and my basic equipment.  Then when I got a recipe kit that turned out good, I'd use that as a basis to develop my own recipe.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 08, 2018, 01:07:13 PM
 Thanks for the welcome gents  8)
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: Visor on February 08, 2018, 04:34:45 PM
   I won't claim the knowledge or experience that many of the folks on this forum can, having only returned to the hobby/obsession a couple years ago, but I wouldn't let my water profile dictate my brewing choices. If your water is wholly unacceptable for one beer style or another, you can always use store bought RO water, which is only a small additional expense. If your water is unacceptable for one style though, it probably isn't really good for any other style.
   As far as sticking to only one style until you get it dialed in, for my first 10 batches I did 7 different types of beer, only 1 did I repeat. Of those 10 batches all were drinkable even though the 1st consisted mostly of 30 year old grain. The 1st 2 batches were not very good, but that was mostly a matter of developing a process that worked for me. That process has continued to adapt with experience and equipment upgrades. I do have train wrecks from time to time, I imagine that most people do.
   I brewed my 60th batch last week, probably 25 or 30 different types of beer, and not a single one even came close to matching any official style definition. And, though I do have several general recipes I repeat with some regularity, I've never tried to do an exact repeat of a previous beer. Even when I start out intending to do a copy, somewhere in the process I get a wild hare and throw in a change up.
   I personally couldn't care less about matching style guidelines, and think some folks would enjoy brewing a lot more if they were more concerned with satisfying their pallets and enjoying the brewday, than winning competitions.
   Brew what you want, in a way you enjoy. When you make mistakes, accept them as part of life, and try to learn whatever you can from them.
   
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: denny on February 08, 2018, 05:23:25 PM
The Bru’water knowledge page. The Bru’water knowledge page. The Bru’water knowledge page.

In case it wasn't clear, THIS^^^^^
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: Mattp94 on February 08, 2018, 11:57:43 PM
If your starting out then rather than worry about your water profile I would think more about the fermentation temperature control. When I started out having an accurate and stable temperature during the fermentation gave me the biggest improvement to my finished beer.

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Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 09, 2018, 01:14:15 AM
 Yeah, figured that was rather important :D I've been placing my hi-lo- digital thermometer in various place around my place trying to sort that out.

If your starting out then rather than worry about your water profile I would think more about the fermentation temperature control. When I started out having an accurate and stable temperature during the fermentation gave me the biggest improvement to my finished beer.

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Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: Robert on February 09, 2018, 01:46:38 AM
Yeah, figured that was rather important :D I've been placing my hi-lo- digital thermometer in various place around my place trying to sort that out.

If your starting out then rather than worry about your water profile I would think more about the fermentation temperature control. When I started out having an accurate and stable temperature during the fermentation gave me the biggest improvement to my finished beer.

Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk

It's all important in its way, and you'll figure out your own priorities as you go (and what to worry about is largely triage: what's the thing you can most practically control that will give the most benefit?)  But learn water at the start, and save a lot of grief later.  Not that you have to dive into changing your water, just understand the effects it's having.   Beer is 90% water, and brewing success is 90% water chemistry with a little  other chemistry, biology, physics, engineering and art rounding it out! And don't forget the fun.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: kramerog on February 09, 2018, 03:12:08 AM
Stouts and porters are good beers to start with.  The inevitable mistakes are less apparent in beers with lots of flavor to hide behind. 

Welcome aboard.

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Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: Robert on February 09, 2018, 03:20:12 AM
OTOH you could start with something like a pale ale and identify problems up front rather than go from stout to a blonde and wonder what's up? Just a thought.  I'd start with the simplest, most basic kit the shop has. If you can execute that to your satisfaction, you can take on anything!
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 09, 2018, 05:38:02 AM
 You have a point there for sure, but the word "kit" gives me vapors :D

 To give you a hint of my mindset, when I was learning to build wooden bows (archery), I grabbed a hatchet and cut my own stave from a woodlot. I literally learned from the ground up in the most fundamental way possible, and I don't regret it. The learning curve wasn't always smooth or even enjoyable,, but I wouldn't have learned what I did by going the "kit" route. 30 years later, I can say that my bows are second to no one's in terms of performance and shootability. That's why I want to jump into all-grain brewing from the start. I can live with making mistakes, so long as they are something I can learn from :D  I'd like my first brew to be my own creation, a recipe I cook up on my own which I think is perfectly doable so long as I have a grasp of the basic principles involved. Nut then again, maybe I'm delusional  :o

OTOH you could start with something like a pale ale and identify problems up front rather than go from stout to a blonde and wonder what's up? Just a thought.  I'd start with the simplest, most basic kit the shop has. If you can execute that to your satisfaction, you can take on anything!
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: Robert on February 09, 2018, 06:09:58 AM
You have a point there for sure, but the word "kit" gives me vapors :D

 To give you a hint of my mindset, when I was learning to build wooden bows (archery), I grabbed a hatchet and cut my own stave from a woodlot. I literally learned from the ground up in the most fundamental way possible, and I don't regret it. The learning curve wasn't always smooth or even enjoyable,, but I wouldn't have learned what I did by going the "kit" route. 30 years later, I can say that my bows are second to no one's in terms of performance and shootability. That's why I want to jump into all-grain brewing from the start. I can live with making mistakes, so long as they are something I can learn from :D  I'd like my first brew to be my own creation, a recipe I cook up on my own which I think is perfectly doable so long as I have a grasp of the basic principles involved. Nut then again, maybe I'm delusional  :o

OTOH you could start with something like a pale ale and identify problems up front rather than go from stout to a blonde and wonder what's up? Just a thought.  I'd start with the simplest, most basic kit the shop has. If you can execute that to your satisfaction, you can take on anything!
Well then you and I are not like some others.

 I dove straight into all grain (~30 years ago) making up my own recipes using the limited information available to me. My idea was, I wanted to learn to make beer. I knew real breweries didn't use extract, or kits, or whatever. I didn't want to be "just a homebrewer."  I wanted to learn the real thing.  "Kit" in the context I was using it here is the idea that most  brew shops will have a recipe with everything measured and packaged that might be about what you'd come up with anyway. ( No such thing back then.) You could always add a bit of this and that. But I am here to tell you, do it your way, my brother from another mother!

Assuming you will go all in on building it all from scratch, I will repeat: learn water.  Get a vague idea of how different ways of mashing  and straining out the wort might appeal to you.  A point people never emphasize enough to beginners:  chill your wort damn fast.  Use an immersion chiller (this should be your first piece of "fancy" gear.)  Precipitating out all the nasty lipids and proteins and whatever (oh my) will improve flavor, foam and keeping quality like nothing else you'll ever do. (This rapid chilling is more important in all grain brewing, because  extract has already had this done for you.) After that, while you should be aware of fermentation temperature, it's not (initially) as critical as you might think. Most available yeast strains are very temperature tolerant.  Produce a good quality wort in the first place, and it will turn into good beer.  You'll be making refinements till you quit brewing or die, and we know which comes first (you're here for good, man!)

(The preceding lecture brought to you by the school of hard knocks.)
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 09, 2018, 01:47:24 PM
 From what I have learned about water so far, and I admit it isn't a whole lot, my local water supply might be better suited to some of the darker ales, stouts, porters etc. My water is fairly hard and alkaline. If I were to brew a pils, for example, I imagine I would have to use another source, either purchased or treated with an RO unit. From what I have been reading, my water may, or may not be fine as far as mash extraction efficiency without modifications to chemistry. Seems the only way to determine that is to try. I'm somewhat comforted by the fact a renowned local brewery, Russian River, uses my city water. What they do to it after it comes from the pipe, if anything, I have no idea.

 I still don't know what particular mashing method I'll go with. BIAB appears simpler with fewer vessels to dance with, but for doing a full up 5 gallon brew means handling and moving a fairly large kettle with a considerable weight in hot water/wort unless you are set up with pumps which adds to the complexity. A chiller looks to be a pretty simple piece of gear to make, and I have some large galvie tubs to hold ice water.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: Visor on February 09, 2018, 03:42:09 PM
   An immersion chiller as you said isn't technically difficult to make, but it is time consuming and may not save you all that much money. I bought a 30' chiller, after using it a couple times I decided I need a bigger one and figured I'd make it myself. Unfortunately there was only one roll of 3/8" copper tubing left in town and I wound up paying more for it than I paid for the factory built chiller. My homebuilt does work about twice as well as the other, which now only gets used as a pre-chiller in a bucket of ice water during the summer when the tap water gets too warm to chill a batch quickly enough. If you're one of us folks who always has to DIY though, you'll probably opt to build your own. If you do build your own, designing it so you can maintain 1/4" to 1/2" separation between the coils greatly improves performance.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: Wilbur on February 09, 2018, 03:52:26 PM
From what I have learned about water so far, and I admit it isn't a whole lot, my local water supply might be better suited to some of the darker ales, stouts, porters etc. My water is fairly hard and alkaline. If I were to brew a pils, for example, I imagine I would have to use another source, either purchased or treated with an RO unit. From what I have been reading, my water may, or may not be fine as far as mash extraction efficiency without modifications to chemistry. Seems the only way to determine that is to try. I'm somewhat comforted by the fact a renowned local brewery, Russian River, uses my city water. What they do to it after it comes from the pipe, if anything, I have no idea.

 I still don't know what particular mashing method I'll go with. BIAB appears simpler with fewer vessels to dance with, but for doing a full up 5 gallon brew means handling and moving a fairly large kettle with a considerable weight in hot water/wort unless you are set up with pumps which adds to the complexity. A chiller looks to be a pretty simple piece of gear to make, and I have some large galvie tubs to hold ice water.

My recommendation is to start BIAB-you can start by getting a brew bag/voile and a nice big kettle. Any equipment you buy can be used for a 3 vessel/other setup if you decide to switch. It's super simple and easy to clean up. You can also easily adapt it for low oxygen brewing if you're into that.

In terms of styles, brew what you enjoy. If you're jumping into all grain, I'd recommend starting with kits or at least a recipe book. You can at least get an idea of where to start in terms of quantities of specialty grains or hops, even if you modify it. Definitely use BruN water, personally, using RO and modifying to match one of the profiles is the easiest way to start. Lastly: Diastatic power-measure of enzymes/power of grain to convert starches to sugars. If you don't have ~20-30/lb averaged out over your mash, you will not mash effectively.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 09, 2018, 03:58:39 PM
 Good info, thanks!

   An immersion chiller as you said isn't technically difficult to make, but it is time consuming and may not save you all that much money. I bought a 30' chiller, after using it a couple times I decided I need a bigger one and figured I'd make it myself. Unfortunately there was only one roll of 3/8" copper tubing left in town and I wound up paying more for it than I paid for the factory built chiller. My homebuilt does work about twice as well as the other, which now only gets used as a pre-chiller in a bucket of ice water during the summer when the tap water gets too warm to chill a batch quickly enough. If you're one of us folks who always has to DIY though, you'll probably opt to build your own. If you do build your own, designing it so you can maintain 1/4" to 1/2" separation between the coils greatly improves performance.
Title: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BrewBama on February 09, 2018, 03:58:42 PM
Speaking of immersion chillers: some steer clear of copper in the brewhouse so prefer a chiller made from stainless. Your call.

Speaking of water: some say it is secondary to other more important elements. I used to believe that but very recently have come to realize it is a more important primary concern. Like most other elements, it can be as complicated as you choose to make it. There are software tools to help but some are better than others. They are not all that complicated once you play around with them. But compare results: One in particular gave me undesirable results. YMMV. 

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Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: TANSTAAFB on February 10, 2018, 04:53:20 AM
Get a Jaded Hydra or King Cobra chiller. Buy once, cry once.  That goes for your kettle too. Buy a 15 or 20 gallon kettle with a clad bottom. I love my 20 gallon Kegco. I'm selling off gear to buy my Jaded chiller right now! BIAB is the way to go. I started with extract, moved quickly into Partial Mash, then into All Grain. Started with a 10gal igloo cooler, added pumps because I got tired of lifting hot, heavy kettles. Plate chiller, inline oxygenation stone, whirlpool...Got waaay outta hand. Went back to basics with BIAB and don't plan on going back! Water matters. Temp control matters but it doesn't have to be +/- 1°
My fermentation fridge died so I brew in my 65° basement, let it free rise, doesn't get higher than 72°. Pay attention to your process. Do what works for you. Clean, clean, clean. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. StarSan is your friend. Don't fear the foam. Brew what you like. Brew what your friends like. Brew what your wife (husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend...) likes! But most importantly, RDWHAHB!!!


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Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: charlie on February 11, 2018, 01:49:26 AM
One thing I'm curious about, is what beers are "easier" for a novice to brew, and what beers might be better left to a brewer with some seasoning under his belt? For the near future, I won't be kegging, but will bottle my liquid treasure when the time comes. Anyhow, glad to be here and I look forward to learning from you folks

I would go with an ale at first. Lagers require a fermentation chamber capable of 50 F or so, and take a huge amount of time to finish. You can run an ale in two weeks on your kitchen counter as long as you like it cool in the house.

Brewing beer is a huge topic. So huge that it's hard to wrap your head around the whole thing right at first. I recommend that you just jump in. Water? Yeah, it's important, but so is experience.  And so is fermentation temperature (but it's winter now, so no problem). Liquid yeast? It's something you want to do, but again, just jump in. You might not make an award winning beer right out the gate, but I bet you dollars to donuts that it will be something that you enjoy drinking. That was my experience. My first all-grain batch and I was hooked!

"Brewing beer is a lot like fighting The Hydra: You can't take it on all on at once. Attack the most threatening head first, and then the next one, and the next one. And pretty soon The Hydra doesn't have so many heads."

Charlie
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: charlie on February 11, 2018, 02:02:01 AM
From what I have learned about water so far, and I admit it isn't a whole lot, my local water supply might be better suited to some of the darker ales, stouts, porters etc. My water is fairly hard and alkaline. If I were to brew a pils, for example, I imagine I would have to use another source, either purchased or treated with an RO unit. From what I have been reading, my water may, or may not be fine as far as mash extraction efficiency without modifications to chemistry. Seems the only way to determine that is to try. I'm somewhat comforted by the fact a renowned local brewery, Russian River, uses my city water. What they do to it after it comes from the pipe, if anything, I have no idea.

Your water looks excellent! I can't seem to attach a link, but go to this and check it out. https://srcity.org/DocumentCenter/View/15807

Oh. I did attach a link. Duh. :-)

Charlie
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: Robert on February 11, 2018, 02:08:38 AM
From what I have learned about water so far, and I admit it isn't a whole lot, my local water supply might be better suited to some of the darker ales, stouts, porters etc. My water is fairly hard and alkaline. If I were to brew a pils, for example, I imagine I would have to use another source, either purchased or treated with an RO unit. From what I have been reading, my water may, or may not be fine as far as mash extraction efficiency without modifications to chemistry. Seems the only way to determine that is to try. I'm somewhat comforted by the fact a renowned local brewery, Russian River, uses my city water. What they do to it after it comes from the pipe, if anything, I have no idea.

Your water looks excellent! I can't seem to attach a link, but go to this and check it out. https://srcity.org/DocumentCenter/View/15807

Oh. I did attach a link. Duh. :-)

Charlie

Agree with Charlie, easy water!  You may need to add some calcium in pale beers, but everything else is moderate enough you can just adjust it for style if you so choose.  You can brew most anything with that water (and a little help from Bru'n Water if you like.)
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 11, 2018, 02:26:19 AM
From what I have learned about water so far, and I admit it isn't a whole lot, my local water supply might be better suited to some of the darker ales, stouts, porters etc. My water is fairly hard and alkaline. If I were to brew a pils, for example, I imagine I would have to use another source, either purchased or treated with an RO unit. From what I have been reading, my water may, or may not be fine as far as mash extraction efficiency without modifications to chemistry. Seems the only way to determine that is to try. I'm somewhat comforted by the fact a renowned local brewery, Russian River, uses my city water. What they do to it after it comes from the pipe, if anything, I have no idea.

 I still don't know what particular mashing method I'll go with. BIAB appears simpler with fewer vessels to dance with, but for doing a full up 5 gallon brew means handling and moving a fairly large kettle with a considerable weight in hot water/wort unless you are set up with pumps which adds to the complexity. A chiller looks to be a pretty simple piece of gear to make, and I have some large galvie tubs to hold ice water.

E-mail Russian River asking for advice on how to use the water for your homebrew. You just might get a reply from Vinnie. He has been very homebrewer friendly.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: TANSTAAFB on February 11, 2018, 02:35:52 AM


One thing I'm curious about, is what beers are "easier" for a novice to brew, and what beers might be better left to a brewer with some seasoning under his belt? For the near future, I won't be kegging, but will bottle my liquid treasure when the time comes. Anyhow, glad to be here and I look forward to learning from you folks

I would go with an ale at first. Lagers require a fermentation chamber capable of 50 F or so, and take a huge amount of time to finish. You can run an ale in two weeks on your kitchen counter as long as you like it cool in the house.


"Brewing beer is a lot like fighting The Hydra: You can't take it on all on at once. Attack the most threatening head first, and then the next one, and the next one. And pretty soon The Hydra doesn't have so many heads."

Charlie

I agree that I'd brew an ale first. I disagree that a lager takes 50° temps and a long time. Check out the linked thread, I've had great luck with 34/70 and ale temps.
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/index.php?threads/592169/

Love the quote!

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Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: klickitat jim on February 11, 2018, 02:38:53 AM
Pick what you think will give you the best chance for success, and just GO FOR IT! It's not a manned moon launch. Keep good notes.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: riceral on February 11, 2018, 03:09:29 AM
Stouts and porters are good beers to start with.  The inevitable mistakes are less apparent in beers with lots of flavor to hide behind. 

Welcome aboard.

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I would agree. Stouts and porters. With St. Patrick's Day coming up, maybe a nice dry stout.

Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 11, 2018, 02:52:44 PM

 It's winter here, but we have also been unseasonably warm and dry with temps in the mid-80's last week. Temp control may be an issue for my residence, and I *may* have to make a fermentation chamber from an old fridge to keep anything like consistent temps. I don't have central air in my home, and during the warm weather temps can and will swing 20 degrees in a 24 hour period.


One thing I'm curious about, is what beers are "easier" for a novice to brew, and what beers might be better left to a brewer with some seasoning under his belt? For the near future, I won't be kegging, but will bottle my liquid treasure when the time comes. Anyhow, glad to be here and I look forward to learning from you folks

I would go with an ale at first. Lagers require a fermentation chamber capable of 50 F or so, and take a huge amount of time to finish. You can run an ale in two weeks on your kitchen counter as long as you like it cool in the house.

Brewing beer is a huge topic. So huge that it's hard to wrap your head around the whole thing right at first. I recommend that you just jump in. Water? Yeah, it's important, but so is experience.  And so is fermentation temperature (but it's winter now, so no problem). Liquid yeast? It's something you want to do, but again, just jump in. You might not make an award winning beer right out the gate, but I bet you dollars to donuts that it will be something that you enjoy drinking. That was my experience. My first all-grain batch and I was hooked!

"Brewing beer is a lot like fighting The Hydra: You can't take it on all on at once. Attack the most threatening head first, and then the next one, and the next one. And pretty soon The Hydra doesn't have so many heads."

Charlie
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 11, 2018, 03:01:42 PM
 Ok, great to hear. I'll jump in and see what happens. I reckon that as far as mashing PH goes, I just need to do it, and test and see what adjustments I should make in the future? Do I have that right? I'll shoot line to RR and see what info they can provide. Thanks!



E-mail Russian River asking for advice on how to use the water for your homebrew. You just might get a reply from Vinnie. He has been very homebrewer friendly.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 11, 2018, 04:57:35 PM
It might be money well spent to get the Ward's brewing water test panel done. Our water varies a fair amount depending upon rainfall, and we went from the wettest year on record last year to potentially heading back into drought conditions this year if things don't turn around PDQ. Also, significant portions of the city's water system were damaged in October during the fires, leading to some water contamination issues and I suspect that water treatment was, and perhaps still is, being modified accordingly.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: Robert on February 11, 2018, 05:04:16 PM
It might be money well spent to get the Ward's brewing water test panel done. Our water varies a fair amount depending upon rainfall, and we went from the wettest year on record last year to potentially heading back into drought conditions this year if things don't turn around PDQ. Also, significant portions of the city's water system were damaged in October during the fires, leading to some water contamination issues and I suspect that water treatment was, and perhaps still is, being modified accordingly.
All water supplies will vary seasonally and even more frequently than that, perhaps.  Cheaper than continually sending out to Ward to keep up, you can start with any water report that gives you a general picture (Santa Rosa, Ward, whatever) and identify key parameters you want to be sure of at each brew.  You can check these yourself with test kits available at an aquarium store.  That's what I used to do.  Eventually you may find easier, as I have, to start with RO water and build your own mineral profile. This is in fact what many breweries do.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 11, 2018, 06:02:32 PM
 RO is simpler, but good RO units ain't cheap either. What sort of setup is commonly used by home brewers?

It might be money well spent to get the Ward's brewing water test panel done. Our water varies a fair amount depending upon rainfall, and we went from the wettest year on record last year to potentially heading back into drought conditions this year if things don't turn around PDQ. Also, significant portions of the city's water system were damaged in October during the fires, leading to some water contamination issues and I suspect that water treatment was, and perhaps still is, being modified accordingly.
All water supplies will vary seasonally and even more frequently than that, perhaps.  Cheaper than continually sending out to Ward to keep up, you can start with any water report that gives you a general picture (Santa Rosa, Ward, whatever) and identify key parameters you want to be sure of at each brew.  You can check these yourself with test kits available at an aquarium store.  That's what I used to do.  Eventually you may find easier, as I have, to start with RO water and build your own mineral profile. This is in fact what many breweries do.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: Robert on February 11, 2018, 06:10:28 PM
RO is simpler, but good RO units ain't cheap either. What sort of setup is commonly used by home brewers?

It might be money well spent to get the Ward's brewing water test panel done. Our water varies a fair amount depending upon rainfall, and we went from the wettest year on record last year to potentially heading back into drought conditions this year if things don't turn around PDQ. Also, significant portions of the city's water system were damaged in October during the fires, leading to some water contamination issues and I suspect that water treatment was, and perhaps still is, being modified accordingly.
All water supplies will vary seasonally and even more frequently than that, perhaps.  Cheaper than continually sending out to Ward to keep up, you can start with any water report that gives you a general picture (Santa Rosa, Ward, whatever) and identify key parameters you want to be sure of at each brew.  You can check these yourself with test kits available at an aquarium store.  That's what I used to do.  Eventually you may find easier, as I have, to start with RO water and build your own mineral profile. This is in fact what many breweries do.

I got this, and it works great. 

APEC Portable Countertop Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System, Installation-Free, fits most STANDARD FAUCET (RO-CTOP) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IB14XDU?ref=yo_pop_ma_swf

I can run 10 gal in just over 2 1/2 hours, and all I use it for is brewing water.  You can also buy RO, you just have to decide how long it will take for the unit to pay for itself.  I brew enough it made sense, and my experience so far shows you don't need to go way more expensive.  (I'm going from 250-300ppm TDS down to 5-7ppm, which is the level they say they have at the market selling it for $0.89/gal.)
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: mabrungard on February 11, 2018, 06:20:19 PM
Hey! I'm certainly a water cheerleader, but let's not forget that a novice brewer has other things to worry about. Unless your water is really unsuited, I wouldn't worry too much about water at this stage.

I'm sure there is a homebrew shop and club in Santa Rosa and accepting some basic advice from them should set you on the path toward to successful brew. I started out in Tallahassee and my homebrew shop owner set me on the right path by recommending that I brew a brown beer for my initial batch. That happened to be well-suited to the local water. That success kept me from throwing in the towel prematurely. I'm still in awe that I can make beer.

Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: ynotbrusum on February 11, 2018, 07:15:18 PM
Maybe it was said already, but if you are using chlorinated tap water, use Campden tablets to remove chlorine.  That is a simple step that will greatly improve things.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 11, 2018, 10:20:27 PM
 Yeah, thanks for that. My thought was to initially brew a beer that suits my water with little to no modification, and go from there. I'll be asking around locally.

Hey! I'm certainly a water cheerleader, but let's not forget that a novice brewer has other things to worry about. Unless your water is really unsuited, I wouldn't worry too much about water at this stage.

I'm sure there is a homebrew shop and club in Santa Rosa and accepting some basic advice from them should set you on the path toward to successful brew. I started out in Tallahassee and my homebrew shop owner set me on the right path by recommending that I brew a brown beer for my initial batch. That happened to be well-suited to the local water. That success kept me from throwing in the towel prematurely. I'm still in awe that I can make beer.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BrewBama on February 11, 2018, 10:55:06 PM
Not a bad plan. Run what you brung.


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Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 12, 2018, 12:46:13 AM
 I don't have my heart set on any particular style starting out. I like *good* beer. If my first efforts are a few steps up from Coors Light, that'll work for now :D

Not a bad plan. Run what you brung.


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Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: TANSTAAFB on February 12, 2018, 12:56:14 AM
I don't have my heart set on any particular style starting out. I like *good* beer. If my first efforts are a few steps up from Coors Light, that'll work for now :D

Not a bad plan. Run what you brung.


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What do you enjoy drinking most? Simple beers are great but there's also less to hide behind. Mastering simple beers like Blonde, Kolsch, stout, etc are actually harder than something that can hide a flaw or three!

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Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: klickitat jim on February 12, 2018, 12:58:52 AM
I think any style is very difficult to perfect.
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: Wilbur on February 12, 2018, 01:54:44 AM
I think any style is very difficult to perfect.

I concur. Evidence?

https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=31103.0 (https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=31103.0)
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: BananaSlug on February 12, 2018, 02:56:04 AM
 I like ales, stouts, pilseners, a good IPA so long as it isn't so bitter it makes my face look like a sphincter marinated in battery acid, LOL. I can't say I drink anything in particular on a regular basis, I like to switch it up as the mood grabs me.The list of what I do like is much longer than what I don't like. In fact, if it's beer and it's made right I like it :D

I don't have my heart set on any particular style starting out. I like *good* beer. If my first efforts are a few steps up from Coors Light, that'll work for now :D

Not a bad plan. Run what you brung.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
What do you enjoy drinking most? Simple beers are great but there's also less to hide behind. Mastering simple beers like Blonde, Kolsch, stout, etc are actually harder than something that can hide a flaw or three!

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
Post by: TANSTAAFB on February 12, 2018, 01:52:39 PM
I like ales, stouts, pilseners, a good IPA so long as it isn't so bitter it makes my face look like a sphincter marinated in battery acid, LOL. I can't say I drink anything in particular on a regular basis, I like to switch it up as the mood grabs me.The list of what I do like is much longer than what I don't like. In fact, if it's beer and it's made right I like it :D

I don't have my heart set on any particular style starting out. I like *good* beer. If my first efforts are a few steps up from Coors Light, that'll work for now :D

Not a bad plan. Run what you brung.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
What do you enjoy drinking most? Simple beers are great but there's also less to hide behind. Mastering simple beers like Blonde, Kolsch, stout, etc are actually harder than something that can hide a flaw or three!

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
Here's the recipe for Tony Simmons' award winning Kayaker Cream Ale from Pagosa Brewing. It was the first "craft beer" my wife ever liked so I emailed him and he sent me this! Great easy drinking beer that I have played with over the years. I didn't like it when I added flaked corn, tried flaked rice and just didn't notice any reason to continue. Without getting into the "does carapils do anything" argument I like some flaked barley for head retention and mouthfeel and I usually get closer to 20 IBU (calculated, not bitter at all) with a combination of .5oz each Saaz FWH, Hallertauer 20 min, and Styrian Golding or Celia at flameout or in a 160°F whirlpool. Oh, and I asked Tony about yeast and he said 1056/001 would be fine for a quicker beer and that the cream ale strains require more time and attention. I just use US-05 because I like to keep it simple!

Malt:  1.043 OG
90% 2-Row
7% Biscuit
3% Cara-pils
(You can also substitute a nominal % of flaked corn or corn sugar to
achieve a more light-bodied, Cream Ale-like beer.)

Hops:  German Noble - 14 IBUs

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