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Poor palate, luck or just good beer?

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verysupple

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Hi all,
I brewed kits for about a year a few years ago and thought they were decent (better that the megaswill) and then stopped (was my housemates gear and I moved out). I started brewing again about 8 months ago and have taken it a bit more seriously and learned a lot and now do AG most of the time. I brew in an apartment and I assumed some of my techniques were less than ideal. Even in my kit days though, I never made a brew that I'd consider bad, and now I love pretty much everthing I make (except one winter warmer that I hope only needs more time...maybe it'll get tipped).

Is brewing really that easy that everything I've made is decent, or have I just been lucky? Or maybe they're not that great and my palate is just a bit poor (although I used to be pretty good with wine - don't read too much into that, I'm only 27, it's not like I'm some old wine ponce).

What are people's thoughts on the ease of brewing and the likelihood failure?
 

verysupple

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PS. (dunno why I can't edit my first post, it was like 20 sec ago) The thread "The worst beer I've ever tasted" sparked this question in my mind, I just didn't want to hijack that thread.
 

iralosavic

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Perhaps your tastes evolved in line with your brewing techniques. I used to think whatever extra dry was good beer and now I think Trappist ales brewed to ancient monasterial traditions are. Haven't enjoyed extra dry in a long time. Brew one of your old kit beer recipes and see for yourself if your taste has simply moved on.
 

Midnight Brew

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With a standard mash and boil combined with healthy pitching amounts and good aeration its pretty hard to make anything bad. In my opinion it still tastes better then most off the shelve beers, cost a shit load less and its great fun.
 

verysupple

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iralosavic said:
Perhaps your tastes evolved in line with your brewing techniques. I used to think whatever extra dry was good beer and now I think Trappist ales brewed to ancient monasterial traditions are. Haven't enjoyed extra dry in a long time. Brew one of your old kit beer recipes and see for yourself if your taste has simply moved on.
That's a good idea, but my brewing practices have advanced so much that I'm not sure it's a fair comparison. I'm a strong believer that kit beers are great if you brew them correctly, and that AG is no better if you know what you're doing with a kit.
 

verysupple

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Midnight Brew said:
With a standard mash and boil combined with healthy pitching amounts and good aeration its pretty hard to make anything bad. In my opinion it still tastes better then most off the shelve beers, cost a shit load less and its great fun.
Maybe that's where I've been going right. Ever since I first I started using liquid yeast (I did a few extract (not kit) brews, before I went AG, with liquid yeast) I've used MrMalty for my starters (except 1 ESB that I direct pitched a smack pack - poor results described here http://aussiehomebrewer.com/topic/70094-wyeast-1968-over-carbonation/) and aerated as best I could (shaking the McF*ck out of the FV for a few minutes prior to pitching).

So your response is erring on the side of 'I have decent pracitices' rather than any options I gave in the OP?
 

Midnight Brew

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Absolutely, good practise makes good beer. No doubt your taste buds have developed and along with better practises I think they make all the difference. The brewer makes the wort, the yeast makes the beer.
 

verysupple

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Midnight Brew said:
The brewer makes the wort, the yeast makes the beer.
So, you listen to TBN / read Jamil's books? :p. But seriously, that was my opinion all along. I just doubted that my practices were actually good. I know my yeast starters and fermentation are fine, it's my brewing practices that I doubt (lots of pouring from one BigW pot to an FV and back again, poor whirlpooling (or none at all) etc.).

EDIT: poor English.
 

philmud

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verysupple said:
...AG is no better if you know what you're doing with a kit.
I beg to differ for several reasons, but primarily because pre-hopped malt extract doesn't allow for nearly as much control over the finished product. You have no control over choice of malts, mash temperature, hop variety, hop additions.

Many more reasons, but I'll stop here.
 

philmud

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verysupple said:
...AG is no better if you know what you're doing with a kit.
I beg to differ for several reasons, but primarily because pre-hopped malt extract doesn't allow for nearly as much control over the finished product. You have no control over choice of malts, mash temperature, hop variety, hop additions.

Many more reasons, but I'll stop here.
 

jlm

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I'd say its still pretty easy to make something bad with the techniques described above, some ideas just don't work out the way you want them to. If I could do my AG apprenticeship over again, I'd make regularly, say one out of every 3 batches, the same beer that I liked the best (in line with what you've described above) and change one thing only per brew.
Everyones palate is different, but working with what you like and are familiar with (that you've brewed) gives you a great reference point.
And enjoy the product.
 

verysupple

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Phil Mud said:
I beg to differ for several reasons, but primarily because pre-hopped malt extract doesn't allow for nearly as much control over the finished product. You have no control over choice of malts, mash temperature, hop variety, hop additions.

Many more reasons, but I'll stop here.
Without derailing the thread, I beg to differ. Yes, you have little control. But if you trust the manufacturer and don't mess with it, you can make some fantastic beers (although in my kit days my practices were somewhat poor, I've tried other people's fantastic kit beers - assuming my palate isn't crap). By no means am I saying all kits / rewers can give you good beer, some combinations of good brewer and decent kit can give you fantastic beer.
 

verysupple

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jlm said:
I'd say its still pretty easy to make something bad with the techniques described above, some ideas just don't work out the way you want them to. If I could do my AG apprenticeship over again, I'd make regularly, say one out of every 3 batches, the same beer that I liked the best (in line with what you've described above) and change one thing only per brew.
Everyones palate is different, but working with what you like and are familiar with (that you've brewed) gives you a great reference point.
And enjoy the product.
Well that's good to hear. I'm hooked on english bitters and special/best bitters atm and am brewing one of those every 2nd/3rd brew. I'm gradually improving my brews with technique and water chemistry.
 

Midnight Brew

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verysupple said:
So, you listen to TBN / read Jamil's books? :p. But seriously, that was my opinion all along. I just doubted that my practices were actually good. I know my yeast starters and fermentation are fine, it's my brewing practices that I doubt (lots of pouring from one BigW pot to an FV and back again, poor whirlpooling (or none at all) etc.).

EDIT: poor English.
Read a book or two but yet to listen to TBN. Dont doubt your practises cause it seems everything has gone well so far.

Whirlpool sucks for me, literally. The pickup is so close to the trub clone I cant help but get one cube with shit in the bottom. An extra week in the fridge fixes it.
 

philmud

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I'm not disputing that kits/extract can produce good beer, just the notion that as a brewing method it's AS good as AG, for the reasons I mentioned :)

With regard to the topic, I'd say moreso than luck, you've approached the craft well informed and done a good job. No need to be modest, my first kit beer was pretty ornery & I've made some mistakes since, but also enough good beer to stick at it.
 

bum

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verysupple said:
But if you trust the manufacturer and don't mess with it, you can make some fantastic beers
I was doubting that palate would be the answer until this point. You know what you're saying is that K&K is better than K&B, right? That's even more ludicrous than saying kit brewing can be as good as AG.

Kit brewing is entirely valid and great beers can be made - but only with deft application of craft. Opening a kit and bunging a bag of something in will only ever make acceptable beer, at best.
 

wbosher

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bum said:
I was doubting that palate would be the answer until this point. You know what you're saying is that K&K is better than K&B, right? That's even more ludicrous than saying kit brewing can be as good as AG.

Kit brewing is entirely valid and great beers can be made - but only with deft application of craft. Opening a kit and bunging a bag of something in will only ever make acceptable beer, at best.
Not often we agree on anything bum, but spot on the mark here.
 

verysupple

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bum said:
I was doubting that palate would be the answer until this point. You know what you're saying is that K&K is better than K&B, right? That's even more ludicrous than saying kit brewing can be as good as AG.

Kit brewing is entirely valid and great beers can be made - but only with deft application of craft. Opening a kit and bunging a bag of something in will only ever make acceptable beer, at best.
Actually, I meant that too many new brewers go nuts with the 'bits' in 'kits n bits' and ruin it. Of course I'm not saying K&K is the best style of brewing. I'm just saying - again for clarity, apparently (what is it they say about people who only learn through repetition?), that it's quite possible to make good beer with a kit.

EDIT: I think we actually agree; I mustn't have been clear enough (see your second paragraph in post 16).
 

bum

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My point is that if you "don't mess with it" you can't make great beer.
 

Lord Raja Goomba I

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bum said:
My point is that if you "don't mess with it" you can't make great beer.
And when you do, it jacks up the cost over & above the same AG beer (&that's even if you pay CB or GnG prices for small lots) & once the bits are grains, it doesn't save much time either.
 

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