Top things to improve brews

Help Support The HomeBrew Forum:

An Ankoù

Landlord.
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Messages
3,157
Reaction score
1,714
Location
Brittany, France
I'm a new brewer - I have already spent modest outlay on kit and don't want to invest in hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds worth of bigger, better, faster, shinier toys.
You don;t need to. As long as your equipment is at least food-grade plastic, you can brew excellent beer. If your technique and recipe and sanitation are all good then upgrading to state of the art, fully automated, jet-propelled kit won't make it any better. So if you've got some kind of insulated mash tun- say a decent picnic box with a tap and manifold, a stainless steel boiler of some kind and a couple of food grade plastic fermenters, a reliable thermometer and hydrometer and a paddle or spoon, you've got enough. If you do BiaB, you can get away with even less.
Of course there's nothing wrong with spending more, when you can, but it's not absolutely essential. I see some of the stuff people are using and think wow, that looks lovely, and then I realise that I could go to the pub and drink many hundreds of pints to spend the amount that has been laid out. But each to his own. If I had the dosh, I wouldn't buy a flash car either, but I would build a purpose-built, self contained outhouse to do my brewing in.
 

TastyMcbrewski

Active Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2019
Messages
20
Reaction score
4
As someone earlier mentioned oxidation - buying a bottling wand and not shaking/inverting my bottles when adding sugar has hugely improved my ipas (perhaps obvious but you don't know what you don't know!)
 

chthon

Landlord.
Joined
Dec 18, 2016
Messages
656
Reaction score
312
Location
Belgium
As An Ankou and Brew_DD2 said, indeed, more process and less equipment.

I kept my money for buying things I couldn't make myself: a mill, a pH meter, an immersion chiller and a 17l cooking pot. I spent less money on fermentation vessels: cheap glass ones of 5 liter. I found 10 l glass fermenters in my village from someone who had to move, and I found another one at the garage sale. I was even fortunate to get a complete starting set from someone for free. I have a fermentation bucket, a bottling bucket and a filter bucket, made from food safe buckets obtained at the fries shop for free.

I now brew for five years, and made about 50 brews, indeed rather small and fast brews. My brewdays are more brew evenings, appr. 5 hours. However, I do prepare in the days before: collecting water and adding minerals, weighing grains and milling, so that I can start on Friday evening at 17:00. I mostly end between 21:30 and 22:00.

And the main reason is the same: I wanted to do many small brews, sometimes to discover beers that are difficult or impossible to find in the shops. Like German bock beer, or big Scotch ale.
 

Drunkula

Landlord.
Joined
Nov 30, 2017
Messages
1,907
Reaction score
1,380
Biggest improvement in beers for me was....

Haribo priming.jpg


Priming with Haribo. Yeah, now all my beers are fantastic because of Tangfastics.

(That's one of the dummies from a mini packet of Tanfastics after 2 days. Look at the bloody size of it!)
 

An Ankoù

Landlord.
Joined
Feb 2, 2019
Messages
3,157
Reaction score
1,714
Location
Brittany, France
As An Ankou and Brew_DD2 said, indeed, more process and less equipment.

I kept my money for buying things I couldn't make myself: a mill, a pH meter, an immersion chiller and a 17l cooking pot. I spent less money on fermentation vessels: cheap glass ones of 5 liter. I found 10 l glass fermenters in my village from someone who had to move, and I found another one at the garage sale. I was even fortunate to get a complete starting set from someone for free. I have a fermentation bucket, a bottling bucket and a filter bucket, made from food safe buckets obtained at the fries shop for free.

I now brew for five years, and made about 50 brews, indeed rather small and fast brews. My brewdays are more brew evenings, appr. 5 hours. However, I do prepare in the days before: collecting water and adding minerals, weighing grains and milling, so that I can start on Friday evening at 17:00. I mostly end between 21:30 and 22:00.

And the main reason is the same: I wanted to do many small brews, sometimes to discover beers that are difficult or impossible to find in the shops. Like German bock beer, or big Scotch ale.
Which reflects my sentiments exactly. However, due to making so many experimental (12 L) beers, I.m running out because they're not ready and I've got the bikers coming in April. I need to get my arris in gear rather sharpish.
 

foxy

Landlord.
Joined
Nov 12, 2013
Messages
2,003
Reaction score
938
This is kinda the reason why I'm asking the question.

I'd like to go improve and continue, but (and especially since I wasn't that impressed with my first couple of brews) I don't want to blindly continue doing just the basics.

I'm a new brewer - I have already spent modest outlay on kit and don't want to invest in hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds worth of bigger, better, faster, shinier toys.

So if I can glean some information about the the things I can reasonably improve with some small, but significant changes, I can with good fortune, make some better brews.

Fortunately, no one yet has said that I need to buy three quarters of a craft brewery and a bottling line, so I hope I'm able to make decent brews with my big pot and plastic bucket!

:smallcheers:
In that case what you have to do is read, and read a lot. For new brewers How to Brew by John Palmer, after that, Home brewing Guide Dave Miller and do your own research on Google.
You don't need expensive equipment to make good beer, just knowledge and understand the science behind brewing.
 

Dr Chris Hop

New Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
14
Reaction score
6
Patience.
Definitely? My first couple of kit brews were crap due to rushing. Then I learned patience... moved onto all grain and was still patient... Then I built a keezer and got all excited and my latest two were both under fermented and under conditioned!!
 

thesteve

Active Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2019
Messages
40
Reaction score
13
Yep patience.

Made a beer in mid November to drink over Christmas and it was decent enough over the festive period but now into mid February and the few bottles I still have left taste much better and the beer just looks much clearer.

Once you've made it, it is so hard to just leave it alone but if you can then it makes a massive difference.
 

Dads_Ale

Crafty Brewer
Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2013
Messages
1,737
Reaction score
838
Location
Berkshire
For me the following couple of points have improved the consistency no end.
  • Fermentation temperature control. I never though I needed this but a hit and miss harsh alcohol issue meant I had to look into it. Once I had hooked up an internal temp probe I realised I was fermenting at way too high a temperature, so now have internal chilling coil in the FV. (can also be used to warm if needed for some yeasts)
  • Not introducing air/oxygen after the boil is finished until it is properly cooled down. I.e. when whirlpooling hops or chilling with an immersion coil (no wild stirring). I changed to an immersion chiller for a few brews and stirred a bit too vigorously to try and chill quicker. Found poor hop flavours with this and again hop flavours improved considerable once I had stopped stirring.
As other have said you do not need fancy kit to get a good beer. A friend has a Braumeister and had similar issues with quality.
 

BradleyW

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2019
Messages
156
Reaction score
35
Location
España
For me (a very new brewer) the 2 things that have helped me the most so far have been leaving it to ferment for at least 2 weeks and joining this forum (very cheesy I know!!). Learning from more experienced brewers and not being afraid to ask "daft" questions has helped me loads!! Been really pleased with my last 3 brews, whereas before I was on the cusp of giving up!
 

Oneflewover

Landlord.
Joined
Jul 10, 2016
Messages
1,326
Reaction score
642
Location
Dorsetshire
Without wanting to drag up the 'is dried yeast or liquid yeast better' debate again, I would say that the ability to work with wet yeasts, and build staters, improved my home-brewing considerably. This is down to the wider variation meaning that I can use the yeast I want to without compromise (and wet yeast is better than dried for yeast-driven beers:tongue:)
 

Dutto

Dutto
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
7,204
Reaction score
3,841
Location
East Lincolnshire
My tip is "Grow old and lose a lot of your taste buds!" athumb.. athumb..

It saves no end of worrying about how your brew will turn out! :beer1:
 

Ashman

Active Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2018
Messages
94
Reaction score
7
Biggest improvement in beers for me was....

View attachment 23039

Priming with Haribo. Yeah, now all my beers are fantastic because of Tangfastics.

(That's one of the dummies from a mini packet of Tanfastics after 2 days. Look at the bloody size of it!)
I was thinking about priming with mini marshmallows
 

strange-steve

Quantum Brewer
Joined
Apr 8, 2014
Messages
4,428
Reaction score
3,216
Location
Galle Crater, Mars
Biggest improvement in beers for me was....

View attachment 23039

Priming with Haribo. Yeah, now all my beers are fantastic because of Tangfastics.

(That's one of the dummies from a mini packet of Tanfastics after 2 days. Look at the bloody size of it!)
I feel obligated to ask as a concerned citizen... Are you OK?
 

HarryFlatters

Landlord.
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
526
Reaction score
204
I think that for me the keys in making better beers are, in no particular order...

1. Proper control of mash temperatures
2. Proper control of fermentation temperature
3. Better understanding of water chemistry
4. Prevention of oxidisation
5. Sanitation
6. Priming with Tangfastics
 
2
Top