Author Topic: A few ideas for better beer.  (Read 2749 times)

Offline topher.bartos

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A few ideas for better beer.
« on: March 03, 2013, 05:39:10 PM »
I have a few ideas that I personally need to do for better beer. Please send me some suggestions.

1. Aeration system (aquarium pump / stone)

2. Yeast starter (using MrMalty.com or wyeast calculator)

3. Cooler fermentation temps (fridge / water tub / lowering my apartment temp, etc.)

4. Bru'n Water / 5.2 pH stabilizer (does this work) / John Palmers Nomograph

I think all these are very important but I haven't really worried about them because I was worrying more about mash efficiency more than anything else.

My question: Should I try these all at once or should I do each one one at a time?
In the works: Belgian Dark ("The Sloth"), Nugget Nectar Clone, Experimental IPA for NHC

Primary #1: Alchemy Hour Double IPA Clone

Primary #2: Mosaic IPA SMASH

Bottles: Summer Ale

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2013, 05:51:39 PM »
1. No better than shaking the carboy. O2 is better, but not always required.
2. Yes
3. yes, better to let it ramp up close to the end of fermentation.
4. yes to Brunwater, no to 5.2.

Try the ones you can, when you can.
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Offline kmccaf

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Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2013, 06:20:05 PM »
1. Yes. I use a mix-stir, and it works quite well for me. Shaking will work just fine, but it is too hard on my back.
2. Absolutely. Pitching healthy yeast will do wonders.
3. A swamp cooler has worked very well for me the last few years, but I also like my house temperature to be at 60F. I decided this year to ramp up my brewing during the winter, so as to make good use of the naturally lower temperatures, then take the summer off. My beer made during the summer just hasn't been that good, and it has been too much of a hassle to try and keep the temps steady.
4. Yes, I think getting a water report, and using bru'n water has resulted in the biggest improvement of my beer.

I think you have a great idea of were you want to go, and I would try as many as possible, as soon as possible. But there is something to be said for one step at a time. Getting the ph right for the mash, and pitching healthy yeast has resulted in a big improvement in my beer. Before I got those things right, I also brewed enough to learn my process, and figure out my equipment, which I feel to have been an important  towards working out the kinks.
So it goes.

Offline wort-h.o.g.

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Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2013, 06:54:01 PM »
I have a few ideas that I personally need to do for better beer. Please send me some suggestions.

1. Aeration system (aquarium pump / stone)

2. Yeast starter (using MrMalty.com or wyeast calculator)

3. Cooler fermentation temps (fridge / water tub / lowering my apartment temp, etc.)

4. Bru'n Water / 5.2 pH stabilizer (does this work) / John Palmers Nomograph

I think all these are very important but I haven't really worried about them because I was worrying more about mash efficiency more than anything else.

My question: Should I try these all at once or should I do each one one at a time?

1. I switched to oxygen- just realized there's no good way to get good levels of o2 without it, especially big beers and lagers. O2 cans at most hardware and depot/ lowe- $10.   O2 reg and infusion wand at http://www.williamsbrewing.com/WILLIAMS-OXYGEN-AERATION-SYSTEM-P699.aspx....$54
2.i like brewersfriend calc- more control over variables for your circumstances. http://www.brewersfriend.com/yeast-pitch-rate-and-starter-calculator/
3. Temp control can be maddening without controlled chamber(freezer or fridge with control unit). Just try to find areas of your house with the different typical temps for ales...then you can put your fermenter there.
4. Water is important. I brewed for sometime before getting report. Found out i had high alkalinity and sodium issues...mostly making ph control impossible without brewing salts and acids. Ether get a report, or use distilled or RO water, and absolutely use brunwater...it has made HUGE improvements in my beer.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2013, 10:06:08 AM by wort-h.o.g. »

Offline topher.bartos

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Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2013, 07:14:19 PM »
When I brewed my 1st batch of all-grain 100% pale malt, I got a really astringent beer. I immediately looked at my water.

I got a water report from Ward Labs and realized that my water is okay for brown, porter or stout beers. So, I know how important water is. I just need a good way of checking it based on my water report so I think Bru'n Water is definitely what I'm going to look into for next batch.

Aeration is pretty minuscule on my end. I might pour my wort into a carboy and it bubbles up, but I think I should definitely add more O2.

I've never made a yeast starter. I just throw in some yeast and let it do what it does. I just recently bought Yeast by Chris White and Jamil Zainasheff and I realize now that as a brewer I just make food for the brewer. The yeast need to be healthy.

Which brings me to temperature. If I make sure my yeast is healthy and strong with enough O2 and at a temperature that inhibits off-flavors I think my beer would be much better.

So, these things I'm going to be trying in the next couple batches to see what I can produce.

Thanks for the replies! I really appreciate it.
In the works: Belgian Dark ("The Sloth"), Nugget Nectar Clone, Experimental IPA for NHC

Primary #1: Alchemy Hour Double IPA Clone

Primary #2: Mosaic IPA SMASH

Bottles: Summer Ale

Offline hokerer

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Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2013, 08:57:39 PM »
I have a few ideas that I personally need to do for better beer. Please send me some suggestions.

1. Aeration system (aquarium pump / stone)

2. Yeast starter (using MrMalty.com or wyeast calculator)

3. Cooler fermentation temps (fridge / water tub / lowering my apartment temp, etc.)

4. Bru'n Water / 5.2 pH stabilizer (does this work) / John Palmers Nomograph

I think all these are very important but I haven't really worried about them because I was worrying more about mash efficiency more than anything else.

My question: Should I try these all at once or should I do each one one at a time?

If you're going to do them one at a time (which might be a good idea as you'd be able to tell which change or changes actually made a noticeable difference), do number 3 first, then number 2, then the others.  Fermentation temp control is probably most important followed by yeast starters (assuming you're using liquid yeast).
Joe

Offline corkybstewart

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Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2013, 09:19:30 PM »
Nothing improved the quality of my beer as much as controlling fermentation temp. 
My water sucks for drinking, but I've adapted my recipes to fit my water so I don't worry about that. 
I make a starter every time unless I'm using dry yeast.  No offense to anybody but mrmalty.com is way overrated.
I use pure O2 for every beer over 1.075 OG, otherwise I just let the wort splash against the side of the fermenter.
My advice is to start with fermentation temp and address the other things if needed.
I'd really just rather be brewing in sunny Carlsbad New Mexico

Online AmandaK

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Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2013, 06:36:02 AM »
Nothing improved the quality of my beer as much as controlling fermentation temp. 

+eleventy

Start there. (And pitch properly!) Then worry about oxygen and your water.

BTW, I picked up some Vissani wine chillers from the Home Depot over a year ago for about $150 a piece - BEST investment I've ever made in homebrewing.

I aerate with a Mix-Stir - super easy & effective.

Pitching properly should go without saying.  8)
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Offline majorvices

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A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2013, 07:52:04 AM »
Brewing is a craft. Master as many steps as you feel comfortable with. But in the mean time if you don't feel comfortable messing with starters definitely pitch multiple packs/vials or stick with dry yeast (which does not require a starter). As far as aeration goes, at least shake the fermentor. The convenience of aeration stone is you can set it and walk away but with shaking you will need to shake it off and on for 15-30 minutes to it saturated with air enough. 
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Online gmac

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Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2013, 09:05:38 AM »
I can't say much more than the rest have said.

Temp control has been my number one improvement, especially for ales which I was making too warm and too fruity when I started out.

Starters are great but I would also suggest you could make improvements by picking one or two house yeast and get a rotation going for your brewing.  I re-pitch far more than I make starters because I try to plan my brews in some sort of succession.  I use WLP007 for most beers so I usually don't need to run a starter if I'm racking a beer off good yeast.  If I only brewed once every couple months that won't work but I brew almost weekly so I will often leave a beer on the yeast for an extra week to ensure I have a good pitch ready when it comes time to brew.  You will NOT get yeast autolysis after only a couple weeks and I've had no issues at all leaving beer on yeast for 3 weeks to work around my brewing schedule. 

I just pour into my bucket or shake my carboy and I don't screw around with water.  Tap water for dark beers, 1/2 distilled and 1/2 tap for lighter.

Offline DrewG

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Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2013, 05:55:31 AM »
Quote
I make a starter every time unless I'm using dry yeast.  No offense to anybody but mrmalty.com is way overrated

How so?
"Well, the Mexicans got a saying - what cannot be remedied must be endured."

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Offline alcaponejunior

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Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2013, 03:16:33 PM »
#2 and #3

have helped me immensely

I sometimes use dry yeast tho.  Works great with straight rehydration.

for liquid yeast I make a starter, at least a 24h 1 quartH2O / 100g DME starter at the minimum.  Usually a bigger starter and longer, with refrigeration/decant.

The biggest and best thing is no doubt fermentation temperature control, with a freezer/johnson controller.  The freezer holds two fermenting buckets (one has to be an 8 gallon "short" bucket tho).  Temperature is a steady 64-66F.  I live in TX.  Result is "good beer."  It's TX, it's hot here.  Enough said.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 03:18:28 PM by alcaponejunior »

Offline topher.bartos

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Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2013, 08:57:07 AM »
I found this little gem:

http://morebeer.com/content/Controlling_Fermentation_With_Ice_Bath

I'm going to try it on my next beer for some temperature control... the last couple beer I've brewed were either phenolic-y or ester-y. I think temperature control is my number one priority, especially since I don't have a refrigerator...

Thanks for the input!
In the works: Belgian Dark ("The Sloth"), Nugget Nectar Clone, Experimental IPA for NHC

Primary #1: Alchemy Hour Double IPA Clone

Primary #2: Mosaic IPA SMASH

Bottles: Summer Ale

Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2013, 09:09:51 AM »
Brewing is a craft. Master as many steps as you feel comfortable with...

Best advice any homebrewer at any level can receive.

Improve one process, one piece of equipment, or one area of understanding at a time.

Take note of the difference it made on your beer, your brewday, or your level of enjoyment from the hobby.

Retain improvement for future brews.

Repeat.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: A few ideas for better beer.
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2013, 09:36:47 AM »
Brewing is a craft. Master as many steps as you feel comfortable with...

Best advice any homebrewer at any level can receive.

Improve one process, one piece of equipment, or one area of understanding at a time.

Take note of the difference it made on your beer, your brewday, or your level of enjoyment from the hobby.

Retain improvement for future brews.

Repeat.

I agree.

Like building a house, it all starts with a solid foundation for which the framework to be built upon. Master the basics of good sanitation, proper yeast quantity/health and fermentation temperature control first, then build upon that with sound process enhancements one step at a time.

All good things come with time.
Ron Price