So, I first helped make a homebrew back in 1980 at UC Davis with a couple enology majors that had figured out they could make great beer… Brewed a fair bit in the 1990’s in Japan and Hong Kong. Brewed some more in the 2000’s in Shanghai. Stopped for about 8 years (but still have the equipment and a couple of cans of malt from about 8 years ago:eek: ).
So, finally got off my ass and started brewing again on 15 July. Got good advice from the Dope. I’m made 8 batches since then and decided that we need a homebrew thread.
So, first a few observations.
- Homebrewing used to be only about making something drinkable back in the 80’s Since there were virtually no craft brewers, it wasn’t hard to out do the majors
- Broad styles were fine. A “porter” meant that you used a fair amount of black patent malt. That was about the only criteria
- Papazian and the Joy of Homebrewing was THE bible
- No one cared about making an award winning beer until well into the 1990’s.
- Adjuncts were not very quantified. As in, I’m a cheap fucker so haven’t tried maple syrup but it should be fermentable so knock yourself out.
- I lived in Hong Kong, Japan or China, so could only get to a homebrew supply shop about 2x a year, and had to make do with whatever supplies I had picked up versus the local malts (often with adjuncts) and the odd specialty grain. Forcing one to substitute freely versus running over to the homebrew supply store because you only have Crystal 10L and not Crystal 20L in the pantry as required to meet the standards for a Czech Pilsner.
Now that I live within the radius of 2 well stocked homebrew supply shops in the US, I have observed:
- big emphasis on making an exact recipe. Honestly, why not? If you can go to a shop and get 1.5# 120L crystal, .5 dark chocolate malt, .25 pound light chocolate malt, .75 pound rye, 1.2 oz tettenanger, flameout with .06 oz Mt Hood and dry hop with .27 oz Saaz, fill in the blank specialty yeast, then why wouldn’t one shoot for an exact recipe?
- over emphasis on “I brewed an award winning beer”*
- turns out to be the “best” ward was for the best in show double bock stout with peach IPA brewed on a Thursday using English lager in a Houston summer + coconut category
- homebrew shops now have about 50 grain choices, almost as many hops and half as many yeast selections. It’s an amazing smorgasbord compared with 30 years ago.
Since I restarted homebrewing, I got some great tips from the Dope and some of my own learnings.
- Starsan and Saniclean (or their equivalents) are incredible time saving devices. I used to use bleach, and then rinse like crazy. It’s awesome to pitch yeast into a bubbly starsan rinsed fermenter and not worry about it
- Swing top 1 liter bottles. So much easier than capping, and probably kegging (although I have no experience with kegging. Huge pain point gone.
- Sanitize bottles by running them through the dishwasher without soap. Not sure who on the Dope pointed this out, but you are a saint. Huge pain point removed
- Spiedel fermenter. There look to be a bunch of good ones out there. Big mouth, holds a lot, has a spigot to fill bottles (vs a siphon). The 8.9 gallon Speidel has been very good to me. I’ve got a 4 gallon and a 5 gallon plastic carboy, both very useful, but a pain in the ass compared with the Spiedel.
- Yeast seems to be quite pricey compared with when I started. Anyhoo, I’ve tried yeast rinsing and reusing year, and it has worked well.
My focus is on small beers. I want a drinkable beer in the ~3% alcohol range. I want to drink two or three beers and still be able to legally drive. God bless if you like big beers, it’s just what I’m into at this time.
Orfy, who is prolific at www.homebrewtalk.com, is one of my brewing gods. They guy tweaks pretty amazing English beer recipes. Here is his dark brown mild recipe, and homepage is here. His recipes are traditional English milds, ESB’s, porters and generally low octane. And all of his recipes look to be battled tested and tasty. His Boddington’s is next on my list.
Anyhoo, I digress. This is a SDMB homebrewers thread open to anything. Me, I am most interested in small beers, but that is just what I’m into.
Thoughts, feedback, recipes, whatever are all welcome. I care most about “small” beers but interested in all topics. So jump in if you home brew and are on the Dope.