Author Topic: Consistency  (Read 879 times)

Offline yso191

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Consistency
« on: August 06, 2014, 08:55:35 AM »
This is a topic I am curious about.  I keep hearing about and experiencing the tendency for small breweries to produce an inconsistent product.  What I never hear is why. What do small breweries not have or do which contributes to their beer being inconsistent?
Steve
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Consistency
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2014, 09:03:14 AM »
Don't know why that would be. I keep mine pretty consistent. I have changed the recipe to make adjustments from time to time and I have had to substitute hops occasionally but I think consistency is extremely important.
Keith Y.

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Re: Consistency
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2014, 09:34:16 AM »
A brewery I consult for seems unable to produce the same beer twice.  I think that's partially because he's looking for what will sell, and partially because his system is so funky that it's difficult to reproduce the beer.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Consistency
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2014, 09:54:12 AM »
I can't speak for Keith or Denny's specific breweries, but I think inconsistency is product of many variables combined in a lot of cases.  These variables may include raw ingredients selection/variability and process control variability (milling, mashing, fermentation temp control, yeast handling, etc...).  Process control variability can really make a big impact on the consistency of the end product (aroma, flavor and mouthfeel).
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Offline duboman

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Re: Consistency
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2014, 10:14:12 AM »
Knowing 3 home brewers that have gone pro over the last 2years I know that their experience is more equipment related. As they are always trying to keep up with demand, cost, efficiencies and tweaking their setups, consistency of product can suffer a bit, not to say the product goes from good to bad, just that from one batch to the next there are subtle differences due to small changes made here and there in their equipment and each learning curve associated with each change
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Consistency
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2014, 10:34:14 AM »
Knowing 3 home brewers that have gone pro over the last 2years I know that their experience is more equipment related. As they are always trying to keep up with demand, cost, efficiencies and tweaking their setups, consistency of product can suffer a bit, not to say the product goes from good to bad, just that from one batch to the next there are subtle differences due to small changes made here and there in their equipment and each learning curve associated with each change

Yeah, equipment has a lot to do with it. If you are using hobbled together equipment you will have a harder time repeating consistency.

Experience is just as much to do with it. Making the jump to commercial size operation is challenging no matter how good a homebrewer you are. It's a similar craft but different. The more you do it the better you get, just like homebrewing. I don't think my stuff got really consistent until about 2 years ago.
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Offline duboman

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Re: Consistency
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2014, 10:44:07 AM »
Most definitely, I know that 2 of the 3 were well funded and started with custom made 7 barrel systems but like anything else, even well designed things need tweaks and have learning curves, the 3rd was less funded and pieced things together so his curve was larger. As home brewers they brewed amazing beer, always consistent and many awards. As pro brewers the quality is still there but the consistency from batch to batch has been a battle but getting better
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Offline yso191

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Re: Consistency
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2014, 11:40:49 AM »
So I'm gathering that it is not a matter of having a lab and testing/adjusting variables - that it is more about knowing your system and scrupulously following a recipe.  yes?
Steve
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Re: Consistency
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2014, 11:47:06 AM »
So I'm gathering that it is not a matter of having a lab and testing/adjusting variables - that it is more about knowing your system and scrupulously following a recipe.  yes?

I think the lab could help in figuring out what part of your process is the problem, if you don't already know.  But in the case of the guy I spoke of, he knows where the issues are.  Getting the experience to know how to control those issues is his problem.
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Offline AmandaK

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Re: Consistency
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2014, 12:42:33 PM »
Yeah, equipment has a lot to do with it. If you are using hobbled together equipment you will have a harder time repeating consistency.

Experience is just as much to do with it. Making the jump to commercial size operation is challenging no matter how good a homebrewer you are. It's a similar craft but different. The more you do it the better you get, just like homebrewing. I don't think my stuff got really consistent until about 2 years ago.

I'll echo these statements based on my experience in going from the "cheap and easy" method to a Sabco BrewMagic. Suddenly, my process needed to be spot on in order to produce beer. Sure, I could cheat a bit one way or the other with the cooler mash tun and gravity. But when you add in pumps, hard plumbing, recirculating mashes, etc... your process needs to tighten down. A lot.

I've spent nearly this entire year brewing 1.050 beer, 10 gallons at a time. Not varying any part of the process (same amount of grain each time, basically the same water treatment) has allowed me to learn this new system almost completely. I can brew the exact same recipe, several months apart, and have it be the exact same beer. I get that it's exciting to produce epic one-off beers, but if you can't produce the same (or close to it) pilsner every time I visit - I may not visit again. Just my $0.02.

So I absolutely think that these are the keys to consistency:
  • Don't go the 'hobbled together' route
  • Brew the same thing on it countless times to learn the ins and outs of it
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Consistency
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2014, 12:49:58 PM »
Turnover of brewers could be a big part of it.  The exact procedure may not be well documented.

Also some systems require a fair amount of manual labor.  I was a guest apprentice brewer at one place that involved a fair amount of labor including manually stirring the mash after carrying the grain up to the dumping platform.  I could see how mashing could vary a lot between brewers  as a function of physical strength and desire and even day to day with the same brewer.  On the day I was there, the assistant brewer was probably less tired as I carried and dumped a lot of grain.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Consistency
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2014, 05:33:40 PM »
So I'm gathering that it is not a matter of having a lab and testing/adjusting variables - that it is more about knowing your system and scrupulously following a recipe.  yes?
Yes, not many breweries have a well equipped lab and the personnel to run it.
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Offline anthony

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Re: Consistency
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2014, 06:46:07 PM »
Personally, I am envisioning this lab that would have the equipment needed to numerically quantify parameters that may feed into not only the perception of consistency but the measurement of it. This would be things like VDK levels, various hopping things, abv, dextrins/gravity/calories, etc. Short of having a mass spec, which are admittedly becoming pretty cheap these days, but also having access to all of the needed test protocols and reagents AND having a gas chromatograph, I can't see how a brewery who doesn't have the coin for a more automated brewhouse which has real, measurable impact on production would spend the money on instruments that, no doubt have impact on production and sales, but definitely not the way a new brewhouse or two more fermenters would have.

Offline a10t2

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Re: Consistency
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2014, 07:18:32 PM »
I'm constantly surprised by how few breweries (small breweries in particular) harvest and pitch yeast blind. Huge variations in pitching rate based on weight/volume.

The smaller the brewery, the more likely they are to get malt from a different lot each time they brew too.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Consistency
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2014, 04:12:19 AM »
One thing I will say is that, if you have a new local brewery and they are producing decent - maybe not great, but decent - beer, cut them some slack. Maybe the clarity or carbonation is off. Maybe the consistency is different from batch to batch. Give them time to dial it in. It may take a couple years even.
Keith Y.

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