Top things to improve brews

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UKSkydiver

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What are the top things we can do to improve our brews?

I don’t have the answers, but I’m looking for you experienced guys to chip in please.

My ideas, but not based on fact, just what I’ve read here, so please feel free to add to or delete from the list and change the order.

1. Cleaning and sanitising
2. Changing to all grain
3. Fermentation temperature control
4. Water treatment
 
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RichardM

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I wouldn't disagree with your list but would add the following in no particular order.
Using an appropriate liquid yeast.
Not rushing, allowing plenty of time for the yeast to clean up after fermentation and the plenty of time to condition
 

samale

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I wouldn't disagree with your list but would add the following in no particular order.
Using an appropriate liquid yeast.
Not rushing, allowing plenty of time for the yeast to clean up after fermentation and the plenty of time to condition
I have just ordered a glass flask to start using liquid yeast and built starters. I plan to make a stir plate this week. Do you get much difference in quality between dried and liquid yeast. I know you get better variety
 

RichardM

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I have just ordered a glass flask to start using liquid yeast and built starters. I plan to make a stir plate this week. Do you get much difference in quality between dried and liquid yeast. I know you get better variety
I must admit that I've never done any controlled comparisons. I started off with kits, then moved on to AG with dried yeasts, then added fermentation temp control, then as @jjsh says learnt patience and at some stage changed to liquid yeasts (and after a while built a stir plate and began to make starters) and added in water treatment. Over the last five or six years my beers have improved but I couldn't say which changes have made the biggest improvement. I've made some good beers with a packet of dried yeast from Wilko, usually English bitters, stouts or porters. I don't know but I would expect that my American pale ales and lagers are better because I use an appropriate liquid yeast than they would be with Wilko dried yeast.
 

Hanglow

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Preventing oxidation
pitching enough healthy yeast


There's plenty of great beers made with dry yeast, but it's certainly true that there isn't the variety of quality ones to match the liquid ones
 

RichardM

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Preventing oxidation
pitching enough healthy yeast


There's plenty of great beers made with dry yeast, but it's certainly true that there isn't the variety of quality ones to match the liquid ones
Preventing oxidation by avoiding splashing is an easy one that people should be doing from the beginning.
 

Clint

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It's probably been asked a million times...is liquid yeast better?
I've never tried...
 

prog99

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It's probably been asked a million times...is liquid yeast better?
I've never tried...
Its more expensive so it must be.

I did a day with a local brewery and they used the big packets from fermentis and it doesn't seem to have done them any harm.
 

samale

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I am going to start using liquid yeast but I will be over building the starter to keep the cost down so I can get maybe up to 3 brews from one yeast. I think foxy does it like that.
 

terrym

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I wouldn't disagree with your list but would add the following in no particular order.
Using an appropriate liquid yeast.
Not rushing, allowing plenty of time for the yeast to clean up after fermentation and the plenty of time to condition
I must admit that I've never done any controlled comparisons. I started off with kits, then moved on to AG with dried yeasts, then added fermentation temp control, then as @jjsh says learnt patience and at some stage changed to liquid yeasts (and after a while built a stir plate and began to make starters) and added in water treatment. Over the last five or six years my beers have improved but I couldn't say which changes have made the biggest improvement. I've made some good beers with a packet of dried yeast from Wilko, usually English bitters, stouts or porters. I don't know but I would expect that my American pale ales and lagers are better because I use an appropriate liquid yeast than they would be with Wilko dried yeast.
You might well be right that liquid yeasts are better than dry yeasts, but why put it forward if you haven't done a direct comparison?
That's how homebrew myths are born and then perpetuated.
 

Sadfield

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It's probably been asked a million times...is liquid yeast better?
I've never tried...
IMHO No. Better range, so you may find a yeast that suits the recipe better, but doesn't make beer better than a dried yeast. Requires more work to get the correct pitch rate and viability, making it easier to make a bad beer with, but worth experimenting with though. There are some cracking strains available.
 

Sadfield

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+1 on Patience, pitching healthy yeast, record keeping and reducing oxidation.

I'd add, read. There's a wealth of good books and websites out there.

Also, join a local homebrew club and have other brewers taste your brews and taste theirs. You'll get a good idea of what to focus on. For example, water treatment could be first or last on the list depending on what you have coming out of your tap, a homebrew club member will likely have the info you need.

Entering competitions can help. Many give useful feedback from experienced brewers and drinkers.

The most fun way to improve your brews is to widen your beer experience beyond what the local supermarket and Wethers' stock. Taste and evaluate everything.
 
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Clint

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Yes I'd agree with taste and evaluate everything! Who'd a thought it...SOUR beer!
 
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