Author Topic: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?  (Read 2505 times)

Offline my99thtry

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What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« on: December 11, 2009, 08:18:48 AM »
I am a beginner/intermediate home brewer and use basic equipment and instruction as might be found in David Miller's Home Brewing Guide. 

I use the following: Grain and Extract, standard SS brew kettle,  2 stage fermentation, bottle conditioning, no chiller, no finings/clarifiers, etc.


I was hoping some of the more experienced brewers could offer up one or two solid ideas that would have the biggest impact on smoothing out the brewing process or improving beer quality.  Perhaps some lessons-learned that you have encountered.


Thanks

Offline blatz

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2009, 08:23:04 AM »
all grain:  www.dennybrew.com?

chiller might help - my beers got a lot better once I got nice cold break.  YMMV.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2009, 08:26:19 AM »
Are you doing full boils? If not that would be a logical next step. Either way, a chiller would be a good investment too.

You might want to do a small mash, to get a feel for whether or not going all-grain is something you want to do in the near term. I'm not familiar with the Miller book, but I see from Amazon that it's pretty short; you might want to get a copy of How to Brew. I wrote a quick and dirty guide to mini-mashing that might help: http://seanterrill.com/2009/04/09/good-beer-easy-beer/
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Offline ndcube

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2009, 08:36:38 AM »
Yep.  Full boil first then all grain.

I planned on partial mashing for a while before AG but it was a pain w/o an AG setup.  It was easier just to steal the wife's picnic cooler and take the plunge.

Offline karlh

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2009, 08:38:16 AM »
A chiller is a great investment, and you should work on yeast starters everytime you brew.  If you haven't used liquid yeast cultures yet, they can open whole new worlds up, and making a good clean starter will improve your overall product.
Karl
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Offline wzl46

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2009, 08:46:20 AM »
My suggestions based on looking back at what I have done so far:
First:  Wort chiller
Second:  Fermentation temp control
Third:  Stir plate and flask
Fourth:  All grain
Fifth:  Send your old uncle Paul samples from each batch you make.

Yeast infections are only bad when they don't happen to wort.

Offline dhacker

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2009, 08:46:59 AM »
What the others said . .

 . . AND, (you may already be doing this), but make sure you have control over you fermentation temps. That's a biggie!




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Offline hamiltont

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2009, 09:09:15 AM »

I was hoping some of the more experienced brewers could offer up one or two solid ideas that would have the biggest impact on smoothing out the brewing process or improving beer quality.  Perhaps some lessons-learned that you have encountered.

Thanks

#1 - Take good notes.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2009, 09:31:47 AM »
Forst off, you don't mention if you are making yeast starters - you should be doing that now before you take another step forward (or stick to dry yeast).

My advice is go with temp control first as you next step. Temperature control will make the biggest difference in your brewing and pitching/fermenting at the proper temps is as critical to the final outcome as sanitation.

After that, full boil and chiller. Then, maybe kegging. A stir plate is  agreat idea, however, far from being necessary for making starters. But you certainly want to be making starters NOW for liquid yeast, if you are not already.

I would also look at upgrading your knowledge. Miller's book was great for its time but is somewhat outdated. I'd pick up "How to Brew". Also, you mention 2 stage fermentation. Not necessary for most beers.
Keith Y.
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Offline my99thtry

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2009, 09:32:26 AM »
There's some great feedback here, and rather quickly I might add.

- Dave Miller's book is fairly comprehensive.  He has a "hand book" as well as full book I have.  Although I will check out your other reading suggestion as well.

- Chiller was likely going to be my next equipment investment

- All Grain: I am admittedly not ready for that.  Both from a skill level and I cannot yet justify the equipment investment

- I will look into the small mash process as an option

- I will look into yeast starters as well.  I just used a liquid yeast for my current batch.

- I do take detailed notes on just about everything and I've been reading up a lot.  That is one of the reasons that sparked my post.  The number of possible implementations is very large so I want to focus on one or two at a time in logical progression.


Questions:

- I saw "full boil" mentioned a couple of times, but am not really sure what this term means.

- As far as ferm. temp. control.  How sensitive are we talking here?  I am currently making a brown ale and my fermentation temp (ambient air) has been a solid 63-68 throughout the entire fermentation process.  Are you suggesting going to closed refrigerated systems or some sort of insulating jacket around the fermentor?

Offline ndcube

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2009, 09:37:34 AM »
The ambient air is irrelevant.  Wort temp is hotter, especially in the beginning when heat is given off during a vigorous fermentation.  You need to control the wort temp.

Full boil means (for a 5 gallon batch) you start out with 5+ gallons of water and end up with 5 gallons in the fermentor (no topping up or very little).

Offline a10t2

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2009, 09:42:26 AM »
- I saw "full boil" mentioned a couple of times, but am not really sure what this term means.

As ndcube said, you start with more than 5 gal (something like 6.5 for most people) and don't use water to top up. As a practical matter at the homebrew level, it means using a propane burner.

- As far as ferm. temp. control.  How sensitive are we talking here?  I am currently making a brown ale and my fermentation temp (ambient air) has been a solid 63-68 throughout the entire fermentation process.  Are you suggesting going to closed refrigerated systems or some sort of insulating jacket around the fermentor?

If you can keep the ambient air temperatures in the 60s, then temperature control can be as simple as setting the fermenter in a bucket or cooler with 5+ gallons of water in it. The extra mass will keep the temperature very close to ambient. http://seanterrill.com/2009/05/20/regulating-fermentation-temperatures/
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Offline denny

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2009, 09:44:48 AM »
- Dave Miller's book is fairly comprehensive.  He has a "hand book" as well as full book I have.  Although I will check out your other reading suggestion as well.

It's also very dated.  A lot has changed in terms of knowledge and ingredients since it was written.  You;s do yourself a BIG favor by picking up a copy of the 3rd. edition of Palmer's "How to Brew".
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Offline majorvices

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2009, 09:58:37 AM »
Yeah, dave Miller's books are ancient comparatively speaking. Had them and Papzians books and they were great ... back in the early 90's.  ;)

As far as temp control goes, if your ambient is 68 that is far too high for most ales and, as was stated, you need to monitor beer fermentation temp - which can be 4-6+ degrees over ambient. A swamp cooler, as was described, works well. But nothing beats accurate control with a fridge/freezer and external thermostat such as a Johnson or Ranco.

Fermentation, and that includes Temp Control and Pitching enough yeast, is the single most important process of brewing. Even if all your other processes are sound, if you don't have good fermentation techniques your beer will never be as good as it could be.

And that is why I say it should be your next step.  ;)
Keith Y.
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Offline akr71

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Re: What Are the Next Steps for Beg.- Intermediate Home Brewer?
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2009, 10:01:21 AM »
- All Grain: I am admittedly not ready for that.  Both from a skill level and I cannot yet justify the equipment investment

Its really not as complicated as it sounds and the equipment investment is minimal.  A 48qt cooler and a few bucks at the hardware store (see Denny's site).  The propane burner and kettle and chiller will be a bigger expense (but well worth it).  You can pick up a 'turkey fryer' at Walmart or someplace similar for under $60 - you'll have your burner and kettle to do a full boil.

Fermentation, and that includes Temp Control and Pitching enough yeast, is the single most important process of brewing. Even if all your other processes are sound, if you don't have good fermentation techniques your beer will never be as good as it could be.

And that is why I say it should be your next step.  ;)
I know my beer improved immensely, when I took major's advice about fermentation temps.  The burner and kettle will make your job easier on brew day.  The chiller and controling fermentation temperature will help you make better beer. 8)
« Last Edit: December 11, 2009, 10:10:42 AM by akr71 »
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