Thursday, September 20, 2007

Getting Started in Homebrewing - What I Learned

Lessons learned are the most valuable part to come out of the educational process of trying something new. From this experiment of My First Homebrew Journey, let's review some of what I have considered to be the most valuable lessons learned to improve upon the results next time. They are my experiences and things that I'll change to suit my preferences, recognizing that they may not suit yours. - Don't use bleach for sanitizing - Don't drop the spoon in the boiling wort - Use steeping grains in a pre-boil stage - Buy a floating thermometer - I'd like to make my own wort chiller - Use liquid yeast and Make a yeast starter ahead of time - Plan the brewing logistics more carefully in advance


Travis said...

Here are my thoughts on your lessons learned:

- Don't use bleach for sanitizing- Get some One Step, it's worth it's weight in gold

- Don't drop the spoon in the boiling wort- Agreed

- Use steeping grains in a pre-boil stage- Yea, makes some nice flavors and is a great introduction into all-grain brewing

- Buy a floating thermometer- I don't use one. I use a long thermometer that came with my turkey fryer setup, works pretty well. I would suggest a digital thermometer before that

- I'd like to make my own wort chiller- Yes, especially useful in a full boil

- Use liquid yeast and Make a yeast starter ahead of time- Yup

- Plan the brewing logistics more carefully in advance- This is a great practice and gets easier the more you brew. Once you get comfortable with extract brewing though you can get into cruse control which is not all that good if you want to make the plunge into all grain. That requires a lot of attention and planning.

Good observations.

Nate said...

Well summarized. And each brewtime after this one, you'll have a list just as long with other issues ;)

It's a never ending learning experience, but like any education, the investment pays off like mad.

One of these days I hope our brewing masses can meet up with yours and have a big bash of homebrew.

Adam said...

Well put guys!

Congrats Bryan! I think you'll be very pleased with some specialty yeast cultures and steeping grains in the next batch. Maybe even some of our hops!

By the way, thanks for sharing your beer the other night. I think it tastes good for a first time recipe. If you want to share more I'm available ;-)


Bryan Kolesar said...

Thanks guys! I really appreciate all the feedback from experienced brewers.

Bryan Kolesar said...

From another well-traveled homebrewer, Tom F.

been using bleach for 15 years, maybe it was my time in a microlab and an HIV lab, but I'm partial to bleach, it's cheap and it works.
starters are essential imo, get your beasties going before anything else can.

made my Oktoberfest last weekend, it's in the fridge.
made my Amarillo pale ale yesterday, it's bubbling away
now Lori has to make her pumpkin stout and we're ready (beerwise) for the Halloween party.

Doug said...

One Step is nice to use and it does not stain your plastic equipment but, it is more expensive.

Steeping grains are the way to go to increase body and flavor. Partial mashes are also a way to create great flavor without spending your life next to the brew pot as in full mashes.

If you use the large liquid yeast smack packs ( 500ml I think) you really don't need to waste time on making a starter. Also, if you save the yeast that settles in the bottom of the fermenter after the batch is done, you will have a great starter for your next batch and save money as well.

I find that concentrated boils tend to make the beer darker when boiled for 1 hour. Sometimes I will use two pots. In one pot, I boil some of the malt for 10 - 15 minutes and the other pot boils for the full hour so the hops can do its thing. In that way the the malt does not carmelize as much and a golden ale stays golden.

If you are going to make high gravity beers good aeration is needed. I have used a kitchen wisk on many occasions and it works pretty well.

I recently purchased a device for removing CO2 from wine. It is a long stick like device that attached to a hand drill. You could make butter with it as it works so well.

I have been home brewing for 20 years and the best way to get ideas is to read and test them out. You seem to be well on your way.

- Cheers

Bryan Kolesar said...

Thanks Doug, I really appreciate your feedback and advice. It's so helpful to get this from more experienced homebrewers. I'm looking forward to putting the suggestions to practice.