Author Topic: Aspiring brewer, new to forum  (Read 1490 times)

Offline Mattp94

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #15 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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Offline BananaSlug

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #16 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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Online Robert

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #17 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.

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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.
Rob Stein
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #18 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. 

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Online Robert

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #19 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!
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Offline BananaSlug

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #20 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!

Online Robert

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #21 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.)
« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 06:25:23 AM by Robert »
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Offline BananaSlug

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #22 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.

Offline Visor

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #23 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.
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Offline Wilbur

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #24 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.

Offline BananaSlug

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #25 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.

Offline BrewBama

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Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #26 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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« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 04:16:39 PM by BrewBama »
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Offline TANSTAAFB

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #27 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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Offline charlie

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #28 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!

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Offline charlie

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Re: Aspiring brewer, new to forum
« Reply #29 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
« Last Edit: February 11, 2018, 02:05:30 AM by charlie »
Yes officer, I know that I smell like beer. I'm not drinking it, I'm wearing it!