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LouieMacGoo

11 Mistakes Every New Home Brewer makes

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I've been doing a lot of reading lately and came across this article that I think I pretty good for new brewers to read. Some of his points I don't totally agree with like the first one about using the sanitizer that comes with the kit but most of the others are pretty spot on like #2. Starting with a recipe that is strong or unusual. Brewing a big complex beer is lots of fun, but play it safe on your first batches and brew something simple.

For those of you who have been brewing for a long time is there anything that you would add to this list?


11 Mistakes Every New Home Brewer makes

:cheers:

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Take baby steps, Split a 5 gal recipe in two LBK's and make a small change in one so you can determine the difference. Great lesson to be had there.

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Good stuff!

Regarding #4, I know water to grain ratio is important in a mash, but just how important is it in a steep? I really havent seen a whole lot on that but it is possible it went right over my head.

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There were a couple of the points I had issues with:

#4 - The author admits even he may have it wrong, but I have been squeezing the grain bag since the begining and have NEVER had a tanniy beer. I don't sqeeze the crap out of it but I do give the bag a couple of gentle sqeezes.

#5 - His issue with liquid yeast is actually a bit dated. Today's liquid yeast performs perfectly well as is with OG's up to 1.050. Anything above that either needs double pitching or a starter. I will say that I'm a believe that liquid yeast is over priced and that with the new dry yeasts coming out you really don't need to spend the extra money on those liquids. Of course if your havesting you can make it worth while after about 3 or 4 batches.

The biggest thing I would add is lack of patience. Thinking the beer is done conditioning after 2 or 3 weeks in the bottle.

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Good read. Thanks for that. Now I know why my first batch seemed over-carbonated. I used slightly more sugar per bottle than I should have because I overcompensated due to the fact my bottles were 15.2oz.

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"Da Yooper" post=334650 said:

Good stuff!

Regarding #4, I know water to grain ratio is important in a mash, but just how important is it in a steep? I really havent seen a whole lot on that but it is possible it went right over my head.

Most experts agree that the water ratio for steeping grains should be less than 1 gallon per pound of grain. The reason for this is the possibility of tannin extration due to the alkalinity of the water because there are no enzymes present and no conversion of sugars like in a mash.

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I too squeeze the grain bag, but I squeeze every last drop of goodness out of it. never a tannin issue either.

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awesome read..i've actually been pretty good at following the recipe so I haven't messed up too bad yet. I've also only made two batches so far so I definitely have some mistakes to make!

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I don't squeeze the bag. I rinse until it's clear. it doesn't take that much water. You can use your Hop Spider for that as well.

and as far as how much water per... well, I feel good with 1.5 quarts per pound.

:borg:

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"mtsoxfan" post=334669 said:

I too squeeze the grain bag, but I squeeze every last drop of goodness out of it. never a tannin issue either.

Wow, I'm glad I'm not the only one! In fact I've gone as far as using a bowl in the bottom of the bucket and pushing down on the bag, in my steamer basket, with a pot top!
Never mentioned it here because I didn't want the flame throwers aimed my way!
In fact the only tannin issue I've had was on a Mr Beer batch in which I steeped grains! Go Figure!
I also rinse the grain until I reach my boil off volume.

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"teutonic terror" post=334714 said:

"mtsoxfan" post=334669 said:

I too squeeze the grain bag, but I squeeze every last drop of goodness out of it. never a tannin issue either.

Wow, I'm glad I'm not the only one! In fact I've gone as far as using a bowl in the bottom of the bucket and pushing down on the bag, in my steamer basket, with a pot top!
Never mentioned it here because I didn't want the flame throwers aimed my way!In fact the only tannin issue I've had was on a Mr Beer batch in which I steeped grains! Go Figure!
I also rinse the grain until I reach my boil off volume.

:huh: Why would you think we'd bring out the Flame Throwers? We all try things..some work, some don't. It just adds to the data base.

Now if you were soaking full diapers in your wort because you wanted to name it Baby Brew, well, then, maybe you'd want to keep THAT information..and beer... to yourself.

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I also disagree with the last point. I always use 5 oz of table sugar to carbonate my beers. And they come out perfect.

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Carbonation, like beer styles, is a matter of taste, I think. I began to feel most of my beer was too fizzy, and so I started using Screwy's priming calculator. It's made a big difference for me. YMMV.

My primary gripe with that point in the article is that he doesn't make any recommendation other than saying, "You're using too much." Thanks, chief, howzabout a little more guidance? Five ounces too much? Then what's too little? What's just right? I'm not Goldilocks, here, I don't want to be flying blind. Certain styles call for a certain level of carbonation. I don't want my stout to be as carbonated as my pale ale.

Again, this is why finding a site, a book, or some other resource that actually makes it clear what's appropriate for a certain style is important. I've bookmarked Screwy's site, and I go to it before bottling every batch. My carbonation levels make me much happier now.

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Dave...in his defense, he did link a Priming Calculator that takes BJCP styles into account. I have been playing around with it for a few minutes and its a pretty good one. I like how you can select your style from a dropdown menu, then still adjust the Co2.

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"teutonic terror" post=334714 said:

Never mentioned it here because I didn't want the flame throwers aimed my way!


[attachment=11090]flamethrower.gif[/attachment][attachment=11090]flamethrower.gif[/attachment][attachment=11090]flamethrower.gif[/attachment][attachment=11090]flamethrower.gif[/attachment]

There ya go ya tannin lover!!

Joshin... I drain my steep grains too, I just hold bag and twist the heck our of it till it quits pee'n.

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As a new brewer looking back I'd have to go with #6-not enough aeration and #8-not using a thermometer, or caring all that much about the yeast at all. Actually #1-using slow motion One-Step instead of fast acting StarSan was another one.

As for #11-adding too much priming sugar, yep I got the conversion from tablespoon to teaspoons wrong too, I bought a digital scale since and haven't looked back. I also use the priming sugar calculator on my website, for reasons that are obvious, it's given me perfect results everytime.

[img size=500]https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-v6OhONYvXn0/T-jU2lEh9LI/AAAAAAAADjM/bdKOyqa-_X4/s912/lbi2010.jpg
Long Beach Island, New Jersey - Before Hurricane Sandy

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I am still using One Step and find it quite adequate. I have no intentions of switching.

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"Screwy Brewer" post=334802 said:

As a new brewer looking back I'd have to go with #6-not enough aeration and #8-not using a thermometer, or caring all that much about the yeast at all. Actually #1-using slow motion One-Step instead of fast acting StarSan was another one.

Never really had a problem with OneStep. It depends how you plan your brew/bottle day and the order. I actually find a relief being able to get some other things done and RDWHAHB for a breather to go over my checklists (pilot in me) and make sure I didnt forget anything especially when trying something new. But Screwy your priming calc is a godsend and danke for that!

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+1 on One Step. Sometimes I need to wait, but for me the risk of getting Starsan on a wood floor, or missing a spot on the counter top, outweighs any benefit. SWMBO has a rusty grapefruit spoon and runs fast.

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I hear ya Rick. SWMBO has the HoneyDo list on the house which includes the wood floors and redoing the kitchen. Although she may "b" at me for taking my time when "other stuff needs to be done," taking my beatings lightly more than outweighs doing what was done once more. I think I may need to show her this thread.

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The Tastybrew priming calc he lists is the one I've used since the get-go. It does a fine job.

Mad Fermentationist is one of my favorite homebrew blogs. he posts a lot of interesting articles, and I generally find him to be a good read. This article is no exception. I do find the liquid/dry yeast argument very interesting, as most alleged "experts" seem to lean the other way. I'm using One-Step a lot since I got like 20 bags of it in the contest winnings, but StarSan is so much easier, IMHO, and I've never had it ruin a surface, though I've read stories... but that's really a matter of personal preference. His discussion of temps, simplicity of recipe, priming sugar, use of hydrometer, racking, and the importance of water quality is spot on, IMHO.

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I'm glad that I posted this article link. I found it interesting and informative but the conversation here took it to a whole different level! Thanks everyone for such a great conversation and information! :charlie:

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I use both One-Step and Star-San. Interestingly, I use One-Step for LBK batches and Star-San for the fiver. I'm not sure why. Maybe because the fiver is for AG batches, and I've got a lot of other irons in the fire, so I want a quick method of sanitizing. As opposed to the LBK batches, which are MB recipes, and I've already established a rhythm with the One-Step in that case.

Even so, when bottling, I always use Star-San. But both sanitizers have never let me down. I think that guy just has a Hadron for One-Step.

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Other than my first batch I use the full one-step package in my lbk but its the first thing I do. I fill my lbk, mix in the one-step, throw all my needed utensiils in the lbk and let them soak. While they do that I get my water on to boil and run hot water from the tap on the can of HME while I wait for water to boil. Once water starts to boil, I flame out open HME and mix. While that is in the sink cooling on ice, I then shake and empty the lbk and I do give it a quick rinse. Then put cold water in wort is cool by then dump that in then top off while adjusting wort temp to desired pitch temp with the water that I add. I usually end up with a temp of about 65 - 68 so I pitch and tuck away lbk. I use star-san for bottling day.

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I also have a question about number 4. I've only steeped grains a couple times as part of an extract recipe. I constantly squeeze the bag with my tongs throughout the 30 minute steep, I'm talking like a hard couple of squeezes every 3-4 minutes. Should I just let it float in the water and squeeze at the very end?

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Also, what the heck are tannins and what do they taste like?

The extract batches that I've used the steeping methods for are still carbing/conditioning, so now I'm mildly concerned that I was doing it wrong.

Also, I was using I gallon a water for 1/2 pound of grains, whoops.

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"OUdrank12" post=335003 said:

Also, what the heck are tannins and what do they taste like?

The extract batches that I've used the steeping methods for are still carbing/conditioning, so now I'm mildly concerned that I was doing it wrong.

Also, I was using I gallon a water for 1/2 pound of grains, whoops.

I just swirl my grain sack around in the water every 10 minutes or so. The first time I steeped I actually pressed the liquid out of the bag using a spatula until no more would come out and it was fine.

The best way I can think of to describe tannins isn't really a taste but more of a mouth feel. If you have ever steeped tea too long or had coffee that had a lot of grounds in it you may have felt it. It kind of feels like you mouth is drying out. There is a bitter or sour note to it as well. It also reminds me of sucking on a popsicle stick which I do not like.

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No reason to use all of it at once. One gallon with one tablespoon(1/2 packet), shake in the LBK, add your utensils. It will go further that way.

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"RickBeer" post=335051 said:

No reason to use all of it at once. One gallon with one tablespoon(1/2 packet), shake in the LBK, add your utensils. It will go further that way.

Yeah, when I was doing only LBK batches, I'd use 1/2 packet for sanitizing on brew day and the other 1/2 for bottling day. Now, since I use Star-San on bottling day, I'm getting overloaded on One-Step packets!

"Duff" post=335053 said:

The best way I can think of to describe tannins isn't really a taste but more of a mouth feel. If you have ever steeped tea too long or had coffee that had a lot of grounds in it you may have felt it. It kind of feels like you mouth is drying out. There is a bitter or sour note to it as well. It also reminds me of sucking on a popsicle stick which I do not like.

Yeah, to me, it's kind of an astringent sensation more than an actual taste.

Ah, okay, I just looked up "tannin" in the online dictionary, and here's what I got. We're so right, it's insane.

"any of various soluble astringent complex phenolic substances of plant origin used especially in tanning leather and dyeing fabric, manufacturing ink, clarifying wine and beer, and in medicine"

And, as an extra added bonus, I looked up "astringent" and it says it shrinks the soft tissues, so there would be some drying or puckering sensation inside the mouth.

So there ya go.

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"FedoraDave" post=335054 said:

Yeah, when I was doing only LBK batches, I'd use 1/2 packet for sanitizing on brew day and the other 1/2 for bottling day. Now, since I use Star-San on bottling day, I'm getting overloaded on One-Step packets!

+1 to that. Exactly what I did. When I started doing a bottle and brew day, I use the same solution throughout the entire process, so I don't use any more, just 1 tablespoon a bottle/brew day unless I forget and stick something like a dirty hose in without washing it first.

I ended up buying One Step (actually Easy Clean) at my LHBS, buying a pound for $3.99, or the equivalent of $.39 a packet. If I refill it, they charge 10% less. Or, I can buy a 5 lb container for even less a pound (and 10% less on a refill).

I sold a bunch of my packets on Craigslist, for some reason he wanted packets, and even paid $5 to cover the shipping cost...? I bought a bunch of my refills during the clearance sale (hence no packets), and have my latest packets listed on Craigslist also.

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